Superyachts are going further than ever before, and sunny climes aren’t the only destinations. With the emergence of more and more long-range expedition superyachts hitting the seas, adventurous owners and charterers are discovering some of the world’s iciest realms, where great glaciers, turquoise icebergs and weird and wonderful wildlife await. Here we take a look at some of the best cold destinations to visit by superyacht.
Alaska is a land whose wilderness tumbles down to meet the chilly ocean waters, making it the perfect superyacht destination. Sail through waters teeming with orcas and whales, where the morning mist is disturbed by a puff of air and flick of a great tail. Bald eagles soar through the skies, and friendly otters and seals come to investigate their visitors. On land, Alaska’s mountains, forests, waterfalls and imposing glaciers stop abruptly as they meet the sea, creating a landscape which is as beautiful from a yacht as it is from soaring overhead in a helicopter or trekking on foot.
Glacier Bay National Park is one of the state’s most accessible destinations by superyacht, its long coastline characterized by great bays and narrow fjords. Adventures abound, from taking a float plane to a remote fishing lake, or watching grizzly bears do their own spot of fishing. Helicopters can get you up close to crevasse-filled glaciers, or drop you off for heli-skiing adventures of a lifetime.
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This huge, icy realm is often overlooked by those seeking adventure, but Greenland is in fact one of the most accessible cold-water destinations for superyachts. Greenland is unfathomably vast, the largest island in the world with an area of 2,000,000 square kilometres – bigger than Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Italy combined. Dramatic and unspoilt, it is a fascinating world of gargantuan ice rivers, swirling northern lights and thriving arctic wildlife.
On the west coast, the 56 kilometre-long Illulissat Glacier dominates the landscape, tearing down from the Greenland Ice Cap faster than any other in the world and shedding great chunks of ice into the frigid seas of Disko Bay. Cruising through this incredible landscape is rewarded by encounters with fin, minke and occasional blue whales, while those who venture here in winter may meet the ghostly white beluga whale and the mystical-looking bowhead whale. Ilulissat is Greenland’s largest town, yet no roads lead here and it’s accessible only by plane and boat. It makes for the perfect starting point to exploring Disko Bay, the islands of Hunde and Kronprinsens Ejlands, and beyond.
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Virtually inaccessible, wonderfully wild and undeniably alluring, Antarctica is the epitome of adventure. This icy continent in the far south of the planet can be accessed only by specialist expedition yachts, whose long-ranges, specialist engineering, and self-sufficiency make them perfectly equipped to deal with the weather and long passages. Once in Antarctica an icy wonderland awaits. Gargantuan glaciers calve off great hunks of icebergs into the frigid seas inhabited by whales and seals. On land, ice and snow blanket everything in sight, colonies of penguins the only break in the white landscapes.
Those who arrive in Antarctica by superyacht will discover unbridled adventure, from skiing virgin mountains, to snow-mobiling across never-ending landscapes. While some may opt for the long voyage to Antarctica, there are quicker and more accessible ways to get to the bottom of the world. A few days cruising from Cape Horn is one option, while flying from Chile’s Punta Arenas to King George Island where you meet your yacht is a good way to skip the notoriously rough waters of Drake Passage.
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The Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard is about half way between the mainland and the North Pole, a land where polar bears outnumber humans. In the summer, the midnight sun bathes the land in a golden glow and polar bears come in from the ice pack, while winter brings with it a frosty landscape illuminated by the Northern Lights. For superyachts this is one of the best destinations to find some of the world’s most incredible Arctic wildlife, from the kings of the ice to walruses, narwhals, bowhead and white whales.
It is just 1,333 kilometres to the North Pole from Svalbard, so for those who want to experience the Arctic it provides a wonderfully accessible yet truly wild option. Spend days exploring from your yacht, watching from small dinghies as whales breach and glaciers calve huge icebergs into the seas, all the while keeping an eye out for the lumbering shape of a polar bear padding across the retreating sea ice. Longyearbyen is Svalbard’s main town and home to its airport, making this the jumping off point for cruises around the islands and craggy coastline.
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Patagonian Fjords, Chile
Chile’s Patagonia is a land of fire and frigid seas, a vast wilderness which is home to hardy wildlife. Superyachts are venturing to this staggering corner of South America in ever greater numbers, some combining it with an expedition to Antarctica. While less icy than some of the other destinations on this list, Patagonia is undoubtedly wild and frosty. In the waters seals, humpback whales, orcas and dolphins frolic, and are inquisitive visitors to moored superyachts. On land adventure abounds, from hiking to the summit of Chaitén Volcano, or walking on one of the region’s jagged glaciers.
The town of Punta Arenas is a popular starting point, and from there hundreds of islets and channels stretch all the way along the coast providing sheltered waters for cruising. Whether you want to fish for trout in the thundering rivers, ride remote trails with gaucho cowboys, or hike through the magical Torres del Paine National Park, Chile’s Patagonia can offer all that, and so much more.