Yacht owners and the industry are buzzing about long-range expeditions. It’s because owners are no longer content with spending winters in the Caribbean and summers in the Med. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I started my yachting journalism career in 1993. I simply never understood the “milk run” attitude, especially considering so many extraordinary places exist around the rest of the world. Few places are as extraordinary as the Northwest Passage—just ask the team at EYOS Expeditions, which made history there this summer. Actually, it made history twice. First, it became the first company to manage three vessels completing the entire ocean-to-ocean passage in one season. Second, one of those vessels is only the 300th of any kind to ever transit this infamous waterway.
The Northwest Passage connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and about 1,200 miles from the North Pole. As you can imagine, at times it’s virtually impassable due to ice. In addition, it’s comprised of difficult channels and shoals. This is why vessels bring on well-experienced guides like those of EYOS Expeditions. The company specializes in creating tailored superyacht expeditions, several of which have been ground-breaking. It’s even in the Guinness Book of World Records, twice, for the farthest south that any vessel has ever ventured.
This pioneering spirit leads us to the history-making Northwest Passage trips this summer. While four yachts tapped EYOS’ expertise to cruise the route, two wanted to complete the entire Passage. So did the residential cruise ship The World. Therefore, EYOS provided each with ice pilots, as well as expedition guide teams, which planned itineraries, ensured safe shore landings and activities, and more. Interestingly, this was The World’s second Northwest Passage transit, and second time with EYOS doing so. It’s now the largest ship to complete a double transit (making the full crossing in both directions). And, by best estimates, it’s the 300th ship in history to make a transit.
As interesting as that is, it’s even more interesting to hear the EYOS team describe the travels. Remarkably, EYOS is responsible for 10 percent of all Passage crossings, more than any other organization. It never gets old for them, either. In fact, Ben Lyons, the company CEO, says that the challenges that come with passages or bays being frozen solid makes for once-in-a-lifetime experiences:
That allows us to take advantage of spontaneous and opportunistic occurrences, like encountering polar bears or bowhead whales, or the chance to kayak to a lost island in 90 minutes of bright sunshine. Guests will get to sail through grand fjords surrounded by towering mountain barriers; marveling at the icebergs that dot the way. On vessels with helicopters, they get to soar over mountain peaks for a hike (or a glass of champagne) amidst awe-inspiring scenery. They will also land at rarely visited Inuit communities and come to better understand, first-hand, their way of life.
From understanding and respecting the unpredictable conditions to building relationships between visiting yachts and the local communities, EYOS is opening up the world in ways we could only once imagine. Check out what it can do for you at eyos-expeditions.com.