Why choose jet skis when you can explore the deep sea in style? The ultra-wealthy, the top 0.01 percent, are certainly drawn to this idea. What was once considered a massive 40-meter yacht a few decades ago is now considered midsize. Average is no longer acceptable; expectations have risen, and so has the desire for extravagant features and a fleet of toys on yachts exceeding 100 meters in length. The latest must-have toy is a submersible, and megayacht and superyacht owners are investing millions in these underwater wonders.
According to Ofer Ketter, co-founder of SubMerge, a company that organizes private submersible adventures, “If you have a megayacht or a superyacht, a submersible has become the next big thing to have.” These wealthy individuals spare no expense when it comes to their pleasure crafts. With budgets as vast as their vessels, they readily add submarines to their collection of marine toys, exploring the deep sea with friends thanks to their financial freedom. “Yacht owners are typically people who have a strong interest in the ocean,” explained Patrick Lahey, founder of Triton Submersibles. “They like to explore new places and experience new things, and there’s nothing quite like seeing the ocean from a submersible’s perspective.”
Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s $400 million superyacht Serene is equipped with a submarine for underwater exploration. The 450-foot-long Flying Fox takes luxury to new heights with a helipad and a mini-submarine station for those seeking a more discreet getaway. Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s $600 million superyacht features secret passages for him to escape via an onboard submarine. The $500 million megayacht Nord boasts one of the world’s finest Triton personal submarines.
Submersibles typically cost between $4 million and $7 million and can carry two to seven passengers, with over 12,000 trouble-free dives, as reported by The Washington Post. The Aurora-100 Series includes submersibles in the 9,600 kg to 13,700 kg weight range, offering spacious seating for 6 to 7 people and the ability to dive to depths of 2300 meters with three occupants. “Even after a thousand dives, it never stops being exciting,” shared Charles Kohnen, co-founder of SEAmagine.
Billionaires like Jeff Bezos, who host the elite of the business and entertainment worlds aboard his $500 million yacht Koru, may find exploring marine life in a submersible more appealing than riding a jet ski. They even have luxurious support vessels, such as the $75 million Abeona in Koru’s case, trailing behind the mothership with an array of toys and tenders. These multi-million-dollar support vessels could be aptly called gigantic floating toy chests of the super-rich.
The tragic incident involving the Titan, which claimed five lives, may have cast a shadow on deep-sea tourism, but it has not diminished its allure. In 2023, submersible tourism has become even more prevalent, with cruise lines and yacht operators using personal submersibles to explore pristine coastlines, Arctic regions, and coral reefs, according to Bloomberg. These operations are cautious, rarely descending deeper than 3,280 feet. Unfortunately, the Titan sub was designed to go four times as deep.
For adventurous billionaires with deep pockets, U-boat Worx’s 125-foot yacht submarine Nautilus is the next status symbol. The Nautilus is a fully functional submarine with a depth rating of 656 feet and a surface and underwater speed of 10 knots, covering up to 3,200 nautical miles.
The Nautilus can remain submerged for up to 18 hours with room for ten guests and can traverse thousands of miles in ultimate luxury. Charles Kohnen, co-founder of SEAmagine Hydrospace Corp, pointed out that submersibles were once primarily used for research and by governments. However, the idea of deep-sea exploration has captured the imagination of wealthy individuals. Today, there are 200 submersibles worldwide that are not for military use, with 25 to 30 of them found on private yachts. It seems that luxury travelers are willing to overlook the occasional mishap to dive into the deep sea as deep as their wallets allow.