Posted on February 07, 2014
Travelers thinking of heading to the sea this month for a sail might consider another way to enjoy the water: Going underneath it. A handful of companies sell small luxury submarines (or “submersibles”) that can explore the ocean’s depths, and thanks to new innovations, they can now go deeper and faster, while being far more comfortable than any U-boat you’ve seen in movies.
Whether an aspiring Captain Nemo looking to go where none have gone before (according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, less than 5 percent of the ocean floor has been explored), or a yachter out to give friends and family a memorable experience, here are a few of the latest subaquatic contraptions.
Designed with a huge spherical window at the front and an access hatch in a separate compartment at back, the Aurora offers a wide field of view. Explorers will feel they are part of the underwater world, not just watching it, and a 360-degree HD video camera lets users record any notable moments for an unusual souvenir. Available in three- four- and five-person designs (with maximum depths ranging from 985 to 3,300 feet), the vehicle includes adjustable passenger seats, air conditioning and temperature control, meaning comfy trips whether ice diving or spotting tropical fish. www.seamagine.com
This model can submerge 36,000 feet in about two hours—not bad considering the deepest point in the ocean is 35,800 feet. Built with a sphere of high-strength specialty glass and no metal, the material actually gets stronger as water pressure increases, making the 170,000 tons of hydrostatic force at the bottom of the ocean nothing to fear. A manipulator arm at the front allows passengers to interact with the world outside. For larger groups, Triton offers four-, six-, and eight-person versions as well. www.tritonsubs.com
DeepFlight’s Super Falcon
This two- and three-person model is also able to dive to as deep as the ocean goes. But designed with wings and special engineering from Hawkes Ocean Technologies (the same can be found in James Cameron’s customized Deepsea Challenger), it glides through the water more like an airplane than a sinking hot-air balloon. This allows passengers to do barrel rolls with dolphins and or more thoroughly explore shipwrecks. www.deepflight.com
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