Seeing Double: Two Polar Megayachts in 2018

Crystal Endeavor
Crystal Endeavor

By Wendy Laursen 2016-03-16 21:46:31

Crystal Cruises has announced what it calls the world’s first purpose-built polar class megayacht, Crystal Endeavor. Measuring 600 feet (183 meters) long, the 25,000 gross ton newbuild will be built to Polar Class 6 standards by the Lloyd Werft Group.

The design of the vessel is reminiscent of that of the Scenic Eclipse announced in January this year by Australian river cruise ship operator Scenic. The company announced its foray into Arctic and Antarctic cruising with a 540-foot (165 meter) long vessel also to be built to Polar Class 6 standards.

Like the Scenic Eclipse, Crystal Endeavor will be fitted with dynamic positioning so that it can float above coral reefs without using anchors.

The ships are both aimed at the luxury expedition cruise market and are also being launched in the same month – August 2018.

Scenic Eclipse

Crystal Endeavor will cruise in the Arctic; then follow the route of migrating whales along the coast of the Americas and Europe to Antarctica during the winter. Along the way, she will visit remote islands in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, which cruise ships seldom call or cannot access.  

With a ROV, expedition cruises will also be organized to see sunken galleons, warships and passenger ships, such as the Titanic at 12,500 feet, and with dynamic positioning, she will just hover over deep sunken attractions without using anchors.

The 200-guest capacity Crystal Endeavor will also have two helicopters and two landing pads for flightseeing expeditions, as well as two, seven-person submarines, eight electric amphibious zodiacs, jet skis, wave runners, kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling and scuba equipment, recompression chamber, dive support tender, a multi-person all-terrain vehicle and SEABOBs – the world’s most technically advanced and powerful underwater scooter.

The Scenic Eclipse is being built at Uljanik Shipyard in Croatia. It will have a 200-passenger capacity limit of for Arctic and Antarctica cruises and boasts Zodiac, kayak, snorkeling, scuba diving, helicopter and submarine excursions. A second vessel is planned for delivery in 2019.

Growing Competition

The vessels are part of a growing fleet of polar cruise vessels. Earlier this week, Norwegian offshore shipbuilders Vard announced a deal with French luxury cruise company Ponant for the construction of four luxury expedition cruise vessels, for delivery in 2018 and 2019.

The new vessels will be expedition cruise ships, designed for voyages to remote ports only accessible to smaller vessels. The series will be ice-classed, of about 10,000 gt and 400 feet (128 meter) in length, with accommodations for 180 passengers and a complement of 110 crew.

Silversea Cruises announced last year that it is moving Silver Cloud to its expedition fleet from November 2017. The ship will mostly sail Arctic and Antarctic seas, with passenger numbers restricted to 200.

Silver Cloud will be converted into an ice-class vessel, and it will house 18 Zodiacs for shore excursions led by geologists, marine biologists, historians and other experts.

Quark Expeditions has added a small-boat itinerary to the Antarctic Peninsula with a 19-day 
"Unchartered Antarctic" cruise. The 12-passenger ship Hans Hansson is small enough to take passengers on flexible shore visits to small harbors and remote bays.

Later this year, Crystal Cruises will be the first luxury cruise line to offer a cruise through 900 miles of the Northwest Passage. Beginning August 16, 2016 in Anchorage Alaska, Crystal Serenity will sail for 32 days from the Pacific to New York on the Atlantic Ocean with over 1,000 passengers on board.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.