Sylvia Earle

132 (avg)
year built
crew members
341 feet
60 feet
17 feet
cruising speed
10-12 knots
ice class
1A, PC6

The Sylvia Earle is an adventure-ready polar expedition ship and sister ship to the Greg Mortimer. This new ship honors the highly accomplished marine biologist, oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle. Sylvia Earle was first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and named by Time Magazine as its first Hero for the Planet in 1998. The ship plays tribute to her longstanding conservation efforts for marine protected areas and ocean wildlife by boasting one of the lowest-polluting marine engines in the world due to low energy consumption, high fuel-efficiency and a streamlined design. She is at the cutting edge of nautical technology: robust, powerful and designed for rugged, remote areas. Pair this with her interior comforts and extensive menu of active off-ship excursions and you have the perfect package for an expedition experience.

Why Sail Aboard Sylvia Earle

Choose the Sylvia Earle for her spirit of exploration, commitment to responsible travel and focus on active excursions. Stemming from 25 years of polar expertise, her design enables unique vantages, well-thought spaces to prepare for outings, efficient means of on- and off-boarding guests for outdoor adventures, and increased comfort and efficiency. The Sylvia Earle offers the ideal base camp for adventures at the outer limits of human exploration.

Read our dedicated Sylvia Earle Ship Review, written by our founder and president. Or consult this page further for a detailed description of the Sylvia Earle ship, including ship specs, deck plan, cabin images and a photo gallery. We can help compare the Sylvia Earle ship with others offering Northern Europe small ship cruises, Chile cruises, Patagonia cruises, Arctic cruises, Iceland cruises, Greenland cruises, Canada cruises, Antarctica cruises and Antarctica air cruise itineraries. Find an Antarctica ship or other expedition ships with our expertise.

Design, Sustainability & Accessibility Aboard Sylvia Earle

Designed and built by the Norwegian ship builders Ulstein Group, Sylvia Earle is the second in her fleet to sail with the patented ULSTEIN X-BOW®, whose inverted bow design, in combination with Rolls Royce dynamic stabilizers offers unrivaled stability and comfort on ocean crossings. The Ulstein X-BOW® cuts through the swell, minimizing vibrations and disturbances, and makes quicker transits through waves. With this state-of-the-art design, Sylvia Earle offers more comfortable cruising in rough seas while also moving among landing sites more efficiently and lessening the ship’s environmental impact thanks to reduced fuel consumption by up to 80% compared to older ships. This bow design also creates space for windows close to the water, enabling guests to view straight ahead and down into the ocean from a vantage point not possible with older ships that feature a traditional bulbous bow.

Combine the bow design with her unique two-level glass atrium lounge, multiple observation decks and observation wings that extend out from her side, and Sylvia Earle is a top choice for onboard viewing of the surrounding polar environment. The ship also features virtual anchoring to hold its position using a combination of GPS, steering technology, propellers and thrusters, thus protecting the sea floor and minimizing the damage caused by conventional anchors. On-board desalination plants convert seawater to fresh water that is safe to drink so the ship can carry less fresh water on sea crossings, further reducing fuel consumption. Finally, Sylvia Earle offers accessibility via an elevator serving all six guest decks, as well as select cabins that feature a wheelchair-accessible configuration.

Common Areas Aboard Sylvia Earle

Communal meeting areas play a major role in fostering the warm camaraderie on board Sylvia Earle. They are the heart of the expedition, where guests meet to share tales from the day, swap photos, keep an eye out for wildlife and watch the sun go down. Unique to this ship, each public deck bears the name of a pioneering female conservationist, including: Dr. Carden Wallace AM (coral conservationist), Joanna Ruxton (plastic-free pioneer), Sharon Kwok (future generation educator), Bernadette Demientieff (arctic wildlife guardian) and Dr. Sylvia Earle herself.

The bars and lounges on board Sylvia Earle are refined yet inviting places to gather, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering stunning views, and of course friendly bartenders to shoot the breeze with. A highlight of the ship is her unique two-level glass atrium lounge stretching from the floor of Deck 5 to the ceiling of Deck 6, and offer stunning panoramic view from the bow on both the port and starboard sides. In polar regions this means that passengers will be able to appreciate the majesty of an iceberg immediately as it appears on the horizon. The fore of Decks 7 and 8 features a teak, wraparound observation deck, extending onto outdoor walkways along both sides of Deck 8. Walk inside at the front of Deck 8 to enjoy an enclosed observation lounge with bars, panoramic windows, wildlife guides, books, binoculars and a set up that encourages passengers to relax and share the day’s highlights with newfound friends. The back of Deck 7 offers a large sun deck with a heated saltwater open-air swimming pool and two Jacuzzis and plunge pools for a refreshing experience between activities. Finally, enjoy satellite WiFi throughout the ship and a fully-stocked medical clinic, ready to help with ailments during each voyage.

Dining Aboard Sylvia Earle

Whatever adventures the day holds, guests are fueled-up with hearty meals and delicious morning and afternoon teas prepared by onboard chefs. Sylvia Earle features a main dining room on Deck 5 and a top deck restaurant on Deck 8 where guests are treated to an array of food options. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, while dinner is a sumptuous three-course meal. The elegant-yet-casual dining room features tables of various sizes and configurations, to accommodate groups of varying sizes. All guests may be seated at the same time, in an open arrangement that encourages new connections with each meal. Viewing windows keep the polar environment in sight while guests dine. Tea, coffee and snacks are available 24 hours a day. The menu changes for each meal, along with a variety of house wine, beers and soft drinks.

Activities Aboard Sylvia Earle

Activities play a major part in the Sylvia Earle experience and her thoughtful design encourages a true sense of exploration. Offering a large selection of optional activities to make the most of the adventure, the ship lets guests choose from expert-led kayak expeditions, polar ski and snowboard touring, mountaineering, snowshoeing, polar snorkeling and diving, hiking and exploration by Zodiac. The specially-designed mudroom provides each guest with an open locker storage area for boots, jacket, personal flotation device and other outerwear, removing the need to store these wet items in one’s cabin. Rapid drying areas for dry suits and wetsuits provide the best opportunity for gear to dry out between outings. The mudroom also features biosecurity clearance zones for washing and cleaning boots or outerwear as required, to ensure the polar surroundings remain pristine. Activity preparation areas and four dedicated, sea-level Zodiac loading platforms along both sides as well as the rear of the ship enable efficient ship-to-shore operations for the 15 Zodiacs carried on board.

Located at the heart of the ship and featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, the library is a peaceful sanctuary stocked with polar literature about pioneering explorers, wildlife and more to inspire and inform. The library also features space to organize photos and board games to engage with other guests over. The gym enables guests to maintain fitness routines with weight machines, spin bikes and treadmills. Relaxing treatments in the Wellness Center spa encourage one to unwind after a day in the polar elements, as does the wooden sauna with a floor-length viewing window. The ship’s shop provides memorable gifts to bring back home and also supplies crucial forgotten items. The lecture theater and lounge is a large indoor theater used regularly to provide the full complement of guests with educational talks and informative briefings on topics including history, wildlife, climate and daily activities.

Crew & Guides Aboard Sylvia Earle

The 14-19 expedition guides aboard each departure help create a focus on immersion into the polar wilds in which the ship sails. In keeping with Sylvia’s own vision and achievements, the Sylvia Earle expedition ship also has a large focus on marine education and conservation with marine researchers, scientists and conservationists also aboard the voyage. Join the team in the lecture theater for educational and entertaining topics on history and culture, biology and climate. Naturalists and local specialists aim to deepen passengers’ understanding of the region in which they’re traveling. Each departure’s 71-80 well-trained, international crew members are ready to make polar dreams come true, with an eye for detail and a passion for fun.

Cabins & Deck Plan Aboard Sylvia Earle

All 71 cabins are comfortable, with neutral tones, pops of nautical blue and earthy touches of wood and stone. A generous 80% of Sylvia Earle’s cabins will include a private balcony, 60% can accommodate a third guest and the ship will feature over 20 interconnecting balcony staterooms. Each stateroom or suite offers the option of one king-size bed or two twin beds, private ensuite bathroom, room-controlled thermostat, safe, 42-inch flat-screen TV, desk area, closet space, one mug and drink bottle per guest, and electrical outlets serving 220 volts, 60 hertz AC via a universal plug.