You might imagine that drinking cocktails in the Jacuzzi on your superyacht while watching the sun set over yet another beautiful tropical island is a lifestyle of which no one could become tired.
But it seems that the views from their floating palaces are becoming a little samey for the fabulously wealthy.
Forget the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. This month their yearning to be pampered ever further afield saw the launch of La Datcha — a 253ft yacht which can cosset 12 passengers in the luxury you’d expect of a vessel which cost £79.5 million to build, and yet is the nautical equivalent of an iron fist in a velvet glove.
Her glamorous looks belie the fact that she is also the world’s first private ice-breaker — the brute strength of her steel hull smashing through frozen oceans to take the super-rich further than they have ever been able to sail before — and she’s yours to charter for only £665,000 a week.
For that, you could get a top-of-the-range Lamborghini and still have change for a Ferrari. But what price the thrilling experiences advertised in La Datcha’s beguiling brochure?
Promising to keep going where other vessels have to turn back, La Datcha will voyage as far south and north as a vessel can possibly go, with opportunities to ‘ram into the pack ice and walk right out onto the frozen sea’.
A lifeboat doubling as a VIP tender can be deployed within minutes so that passengers don’t miss ‘chance encounters with a humpback whale’ — and all the while enjoying seven-star mod cons which the early polar explorers like Scott and Shackleton could only have dreamed about.
Who could resist ‘a stimulating trek among the penguins, followed by the comfort of a warm hammam or sauna’? Or a chance to see polar bears, then ‘under the Arctic’s midnight sun, celebrate the day’s discoveries with a dip in the Jacuzzi’.
Among the many ‘toys’ on board are two snow-scooters, four jet-skis, a diving centre with its own decompression chamber and two helicopters in a below-deck hangar.
There’s also a Triton 1650/3 LP submersible — a smaller and lighter version of the mini-submarine used for filming the Blue Planet II series. Designed to fit into superyacht garages, this three-person craft can descend to 500 metres for up to 12 hours .
None are gadgets which the boat’s owner, Russian oligarch Oleg Tinkov, will be enjoying any time soon. Currently fighting extradition to the U.S. on charges of tax evasion, the 52-year-old billionaire banker is on £20 million bail at his home in London and he’s not allowed to travel outside the M25, let alone to the Arctic Circle.
All of which must come hard to the self-made entrepreneur who founded Tinkoff, an online bank with 9 million customers, but describes himself as an ‘adventurer’ who has no time for the traditional pursuits of ‘rich and fat people’.
‘For me, it’s boring to buy another white boat, to sit on the sundeck and drink champagne,’ he has said. ‘There is so much more to the world than the Med or the British Virgin Islands. This is just five per cent of the world’s coastline and . . . I’m eager to explore the rest.’
It’s easy to see why he was attracted to La Datcha — described by Boat International magazine as ‘an adventurer’s dream’.
One of the new ‘SeaXplorers’ built by Dutch shipyard Damen, it was developed with advice from Eyos Expeditions, a company which boasts of helping yachting clients go ‘where few venture’.
‘We spend a lot of time taking yachts of all capabilities to very remote places, and we are always having to make compromises based on the parameters of the yacht’s design,’ says Eyos co-founder Rob McCallum.
‘What the SeaXplorer allows us to do is to start afresh and design a vessel where there are no compromises.’ The SeaXplorers are specially strengthened with extra steel frames in the hull, forming an ‘ice-belt’ capable of withstanding the pressure of the pack ice which can rapidly shift and trap a yacht.
And if it does become surrounded by pack ice, it can be turned around so that the stern leads the way, rising up and crashing down on the ice to clear a path. This makes the SeaXplorer effective against ice up to a metre thick.
La Datcha will reach regions previously accessible only when summer has melted the ice. But even if Oleg Tinkov were able to make those trips himself, he says that he only ever intended La Datcha to be a charter yacht.
It shares its name — Russian for holiday home — with the other breathtakingly opulent rentals within his La Datcha Tinkoff Collection.
These include a chalet in the French ski resort of Val Thorens, available for £50,000 a week, and a Tuscan palace for £90,000. With the charter market in mind, La Datcha has two equally imposing en-suite master bedrooms — unlike many yachts on which the ‘owner’s deck’ outshines all other accommodation on board.
According to Stefano Feltrin, MD of the La Datcha Tinkoff Collection, this makes it attractive to friends who want to split the cost.
‘Two families can share the expenses equally and have the same level of accommodation without arguing about who has the owner’s deck,’ he explains.
There are another four guest cabins — each featuring a dressing room, lavatory and either a shower or bathtub.
And those who charter her might want to think carefully who they invite along, given that La Datcha can spend 40 days at sea.
Not that it’s difficult to get away from each other, whether in the fully equipped gym or in the main saloon and the observation lounge above it — both featuring full-length windows offering panoramic views of ‘dolphins leaping on the bow wave or ice floes breaking away’.
The yacht also has its own hospital, a professional galley for your personal chef, accommodation for 25 crew — and a staff gym.
La Datcha’s website lists the regions the yacht will be visiting over the next 18 months and, following spells in warmer climes, such as the Seychelles and the Maldives, she will be available for charter in Antarctica during December 2021 and January 2022.
This is a place which, it might be argued, should be left to scientists and other bona fide explorers.
But each SeaXplorer takes four years to build and with the next not due for delivery for another two years, the polar wilderness will remain untroubled by rich rubber-neckers for some time yet.