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Expedition cruises: Grands Espaces is developing its fleet of polar yachts

Grands Espaces, a tour operator specializing in French-speaking polar expedition cruises, has offered, since its creation, extraordinary trips to discover the little explored lands of the Far North. Today, the tour operator is still moving upmarket and developing its cruise offer with new polar ships in its fleet. The promise of an unprecedented experience, in the confines of the Arctic.

Great Spaces: the story of 25 years of polar explorations

Grands Espaces was founded in 1998 by scientist, explorer and visionary Christian Kempf, winner of the Grand Prix for Exploration in 1977, who organized the very first Arctic expedition cruise aboard a French icebreaker in 1990. His ambition: to combine the discovery of the polar lands with the conservation of the planet, by making tourists the best ambassadors for the protection of this still virgin nature.

The first company to charter 100% French-speaking boats, Grands Espaces specializes in cruises on low-capacity ships, with groups ranging from 12 to 75 people. This allows, on the one hand, to offer maximum flexibility to passengers, but also to minimize the environmental impact of the trip.

One of the tour operator’s great strengths is its team of 70 passionate polar guides. True experts of the Far North, they share their knowledge with travelers and offer them a unique experience, closer to the ice floes, bears, penguins, Inuits…

Trained in polar expeditions that meet strict guidelines, the guides also ensure a reasoned and responsible experience, with the greatest respect for the local flora and fauna.

Grands Espaces thus offers a hundred trips, with expedition cruises in the Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, but also in the heart of the Amazon, in the Canadian Far North, in the fjords of Norway, the Galapagos, in Iceland…

©Maxime Barthelmé

The Explorer: the new polar exploration yacht in the Arctic

Grands Espaces has just added the Explorer to its fleet of small boats, which will start its first season in the Arctic this year: a polar yacht equipped with an icebreaker combining comfort, refinement and robustness.

The boat was originally built in 1994 to operate as a marker buoy operator between Copenhagen and Greenland, on behalf of the Royal Danish Navy. In 2020, the ship was completely renovated and refitted by the Norwegian company Vestland Classic and by Grands Espaces.

The result: a polar yacht equipped with the best expedition tools, which offers exceptional comfort, a modern layout, for an unparalleled experience in the extreme regions of the Arctic.

With a length of 46.5 meters and a width of 10.5 meters, the Explorer can accommodate up to 12 passengers. It has 9 cabins, ranging from 11 to 17 square meters (with designer bathroom, large storage, office, etc.), including two large suites with French windows and access to the outside.

The yacht also has a spacious 75m2 panoramic saloon, an observation lounge at bridge level and wide outdoor spaces, from where passengers can admire the polar landscapes.

Travelers will also have at their disposal a sauna, a jacuzzi and a fitness area to relax after excursions.

With this new ship, Grands Espaces is continuing to move upmarket and offering an unparalleled experience, which nevertheless remains aligned with the tour operator’s DNA: offering the trip of a lifetime, to discover the pristine lands of the Arctic, perfect communion with nature, and in compliance with safety and environmental standards.

In accordance with the company’s eco-responsible values, the Explorer has been adapted in particular to reduce its impact on the environment as much as possible: very low consumption of light fuel oil; the installation of filters and reservoirs for waste and wastewater; a zero-packaging policy on board; selective sorting of waste…

In 2023, the Nanook, a 12-seater polar yacht with a reinforced ice hull, will sail through the icebergs and ice floes of Greenland.

This boat was built in Denmark in 1968 to face the roughest seas, in the context of traffic control missions in the North Sea. In 2020 it was refitted for large polar expeditions.

53.5 meters long and 10 meters wide, the Nanook is fully equipped to navigate easily in areas covered by pack ice. It has 7 passenger cabins from 14 m2 to 17 m2 (with separate or double beds; a desk; armchairs, storage, private bathrooms, etc.). The Nanook welcomes on board a crew of 6 people, as well as two polar guides. It is also equipped with two zodiacs for excursions and all the equipment necessary for expedition cruises.

From the panoramic observation lounge, passengers can admire the pristine lands, northern lights and wildlife of Greenland.

zodiac spitzbergen
©Florian Ledoux

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