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Exploring Antarctica on board Octopus
7th April 2023
Otherworldly is the only word that can summarise a trip to Antarctica. Being able to experience this exhilarating destination to its fullest potential, however, is very much dependent on the yacht. Built for exploration, the 126.5m Octopus is available for charter in the region and provides the ultimate platform for adventure seekers and nature lovers to authentically experience one of the remotest destinations on earth.

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OCTOPUS Luxury Motor Yacht for Charter | C&N
126.20m | Lurssen | 2003 (2021)
13 Cabins | 12 Guests | 45 Crew

From: US$ 2,200,000 p/w


Exploring Antarctica on board Octopus

Even the journey to Antarctica is exceptional. The sole air link to the white continent is a BAe 146 aeroplane, with 50 flights departing annually from Punta Arenas, Chile. What the flight lacks in frills, it makes up for in views. As the jet rises above the Straits of Magellan, humpback whales breach below. Sapphire icebergs drift like ghostly cathedrals. It’s a dazzling foretaste of the most remote and most pristine destination on earth.

On arrival at Teniente Marsh Airport, during the Austral summer months of January, February and March, guests must hike one kilometre across the apron of sea ice to a waiting RIB. What follows is a rush-of-blood blast through brash ice. Keen eyed passengers will soon make out a stew waving to them from deck, with an emergency flare in one hand and glass of Glenfiddich in the other. There can be no better arrival aboard one of the world’s greatest explorer yachts.

Having chartered in Antarctica in 2022/2023, the 126.5m Lürssen Octopus will return in 2024/2025. The largest yacht in the Camper & Nicholsons charter fleet, she is capable, luxurious, spacious, and fitted to facilitate joyful exploration of remote regions where support is limited, and challenges abound.

A steel, full displacement ice class 1A hull gives Octopus free range throughout Antarctica’s icy waters. A protected interior two-level marina with concealed 36m floodable tender garage hosts a 16m tender and a 12m submersible, accompanied by a fleet of six additional tenders. A remotely operated underwater vehicle can roam the ocean floor, while relaying live images to onboard screens.

Two helicopter pads, a 13m heated freshwater swimming pool, multiple observation lounges, gym and fitness area, cinema, library, laboratory, fully equipped technical and free dive centre, hyperbaric chamber, and an extensive toy list just begin to scratch the surface of Octopus’s amenities. Guests can even spy deep ocean denizens from Octopus’s underwater glass-bottomed observation lounge, with a cocktail in hand.

Jacqui Lockhart, head of charter management at Camper & Nicholsons, and her team have already taken bookings for Octopus for the 2024 and 2025 austral summers. “Octopus was recently booked with two helicopters, plus eight extra staff including ice pilots and heli-skiing specialists,” says Lockhart. Other ice-class yachts are also available to charter through Camper & Nicholsons. The market is buoyant thanks to a selective group of people who have the seventh continent on their bucket list.

Nature remains the biggest draw. Guests are cruising through virgin waters that first welcomed boats less than 200 years ago. Wildlife appears frequently and fearlessly. In a single outing a gang of leopard seals — each one twice as long as a human — might shadow your Zodiac. The seals are chased off by a pod of mothering orcas, whose calves curiously bump your boat. Sea life is abundantly photogenic in the Lemaire Channel; a seal and cetacean superhighway squeezed between two mountain ranges, hence its nickname ‘the Kodak Gap’.

The ultimate animal Insta-moment in Antarctica, however, is leaping emperor penguins. Their trick is to shake air bubbles from their feathers to reduce drag, momentarily tripling their speed, allowing a 30kg flightless bird to torpedo skywards onto a glacier. It’s an incredible sight. The strangest sound in Antarctica is the barking rev of an alpha male elephant seal – these two-tonne thugs holler at every passing boat.

On-land activities are where an expedition agency comes in. “These incredible teams of wildlife photographers, polar experts and former military people are contracted alongside all our Antarctic charters,” explains Lockhart. “The expedition leaders are very much in charge of what you do when you go ashore.” Expert guidance is a necessity in the coldest, driest, windiest, and least explored of all the continents, where the ice sits 4km thick.

The collaboration between yacht and expedition team is what makes any Antarctic voyage once-in-a-lifetime. Like heli-skiing down a remote peak, where the swooshing tracks are yours alone. Or kayaking alongside a tabular iceberg, which can reach the humbling height of a 50-storey skyscraper. Or descending 100m in a Triton submarine to a shipwreck shivering on the seabed. The list goes on.

Ice diving in the Antarctic remains a scintillating possibility. The shadowy sea is home to translucent creatures, whose blood is laced with antifreeze. On very rare occasions, divers can watch the passage of blue whales. Guests must gear up like astronauts for this alternate atmosphere with dry suits, twin cold-water regulators, and a buoyancy compensator.

If there’s time for one last drink before heading back to civilisation, Lockhart recommends the Ukrainian polar base in the Wilhelm Archipelago, “where 12 scientists serve home-made hooch in what must be the last bar in the world”.

Octopus can accommodate 12 guests spread over four of the yacht’s eight decks. The full-beam king master suite is outfitted with a king bed, dual baths, private observation lounge, private exterior deck, and private elevator. It is the ideal place to relax following an exhilarating day spent in this enchanting land of endless white dunes and 24-hour daylight, watching cerulean ice sculptures float past your cabin window.