Billionaires embrace ‘icebreaker’ yachts to escape

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The skipper of a five-story megayacht steers the luxury icebreaker named Ulysses from away from the sound of Cristal Champagne corks firing along the Monaco coast.

“This is not a marina ship,” he says of the 196-foot, 49 million euro ($66.9 million) expedition vessel that can tackle polar waters as easily as lay anchor for months along the uppermost reaches of the Amazon River. “Ulysses is a luxury yacht designed to avoid what’s happening on land.”

It has been three years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered the worst fiscal crisis following the Great Depression and a gust of fear among the armada of giga-yachtsmen who each September sail into the Monaco Yacht Show to preen and prance their monstrous vessels for sale. Time and Europe’s multibillion-dollar credit calamity have not been kind to them.
Everything anchored in Monaco was on fire sale.

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