Space has long been touted as the next frontier of the tourism industry, but the depths of the oceans remain as mysterious and alluring as anything well-heeled tourists might find in orbit. Better yet, the oceans are conveniently located right here on planet earth. While space tourism remains very much a work in progress, trips to some of the darker recesses of earth’s oceans are well underway, helping to pump much-needed funds into deep-water research.
It was filmmaker James Cameron who truly heralded the dawn of the deep-sea age in 2012 when he became the first solo diver to pilot a submersible to Mariana Trench (the deepest point in Earth’s oceans). His record-breaking journey nearly 7 miles below gave deep-sea submersibles a dash of star power — something ocean exploration had been lacking amidst a parallel space effort financed by the Bransons and Bezos of the world. But you don’t have to be a millionaire to ride in a submersible. Got a taste for the unknown and some money to spare? Here are six companies ready and waiting to take you where few humans have been before.