This most extraordinary yacht, built for the Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, had an unusual conception in that its designer, Philippe Starck, drew what he considered to be a ‘cool shape’ – taking a full three and a half hours for the job. Unlike the design progression of most yachts, the naval architecture of A was made to work subsequently under the control of the technical designer, Martin Francis, who used models and towing tanks to confirm the hull lines.
Deck spaces are minimal – a tiny sun deck with splash pool; a shaded fore deck area with rectangular pool; and the main deck aft with a curved pool. The interior features the owner’s open-plan ‘loft apartment’ ringed by windows and a wide balcony aft, while the main saloon, equally open, features a ‘romper sofa’ with space for at least 10 people.
A was featured in the 2011 edition of The Superyachts book
Builder: Blohm + Voss Naval
Exterior styling / interior design: Philippe Starck
This yacht was built by Flender Werft in Lübeck, Germany, in 1966 as the passenger vessel Regina Maris for the Lübeck Line. After several changes of ownership, she was converted to a yacht for the late John S Latsis, the Greek shipping tycoon, and renamed Alexander. Extensively refitted in 1985 and again in 1998, she is available for charter, offering well-appointed accommodation for up to 60 guests. She carries a very wide range of tenders and water sports gear and can accept helicopters on her fully certified landing pad.
Onboard facilities include a swimming pool, spa pool, gymnasium, full-size disco bar, a 27-seat cinema, children’s playroom, a beauty salon and a mini-hospital. The yacht remains in the ownership of the Latsis family, now headed by the second richest man in Greece, Spiros Latsis, who holds one of Europe’s biggest fortunes with stakes in oil refining, real estate, financial services and high-class travel.
Builder & naval architecture: Flender-Werft
Golden Odyssey was launched in March 2015 under project name Tatiana, when she became the 18th largest superyacht in the world. Golden Odyssey is believed to have been commissioned by Saudi Arabian Prince Khaled bin Sultan.
Built in secrecy by Lürssen, little is known about this yacht. Her steel hull and aluminium superstructure give Golden Odyssey a displacement of 7,600 tonnes and her mostly covered decks suggest a desire for privacy. The interior is the work of the late Alberto Pinto.
Builder / Naval Architecture: Lürssen
Exterior Styling: Martin Francis
Interior design: Alberto Pinto
Named after a black African swan, Savarona was built for the American heiress Emily Roebling Cadwalader, whose family business constructed both the Brooklyn and Golden Gate bridges. In 1937 the yacht was purchased by the Turkish state as the presidential yacht of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey. Following his death, Savarona was renamed Gunes Dil (Sun Language) and used as a Turkish Navy training ship. Her condition deteriorated.
In 1989, Kahraman Sadikoglu bought a 50-year lease and, with other investors, spent $35 million on her refurbishment. Subsequently, Sadikoglu has acquired 100% of the lease. The original steam turbines were replaced with two Caterpillar diesels, the weight of the former being compensated for by 300 tonnes of marble, mostly used for a Turkish bath spanning the full 16 metre beam. Recently, her shafts, propellers and rudders were replaced in a $3m refit that also refurbished her interior.
Savarona is featured in Volume 6 of The Superyachts and charters out of Istanbul.
Builders: Blohm + Voss (1931) / Kahraman Sadikoglu (1992)
Naval architecture: Cox & Stevens (1931)
Interior design: Donald Starkey (1992)
Known as Project Crystal by her builder, this 124 metre yacht’s name was unveiled as Katara upon her launch. Katara, hull number 13656, was built by the Lürssen shipyard in Bremen and spent her first full season in the Caribbean. It is speculated that her interior is by the late Alberto Pinto. She has one helipad and carries both her tenders and her SOLAS rescue boats in davits port and starboard. She flies a Qatari flag and her home port is Doha, which means her name is more likely a translation of the word for “celebration” than a reference to the female waterbender in the film, Avatar, although that works, too. She likely belongs to the new young emir.
Builder / naval architecture: Lürssen
Exterior styling: Espen Øino
Launched in 1991 by the Szczecinska yard in Poland, this former Russian research vessel was entirely rebuilt during five years by Elefsis Shipyards in Greece. Re-designed by H2 Yacht Design of London, UK, Maryah is constructed to full SOLAS regulations. A modern exterior styling blends with a contemporary interior décor, and she accommodates a whopping 54 passengers.
Exterior / Interior Design: H2 Yacht Design
Octopus is the most recently built yacht of Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft, who also owns the 92.38 metre Tatoosh and the 60.6 metre Méduse.
Octopus features a helicopter pad and garage aft and can also accept a second helicopter on the bows. A novel facility of her design is her internal dock, which, opening from her transom, runs forward through the yacht, allowing a 20 metre submarine and a tender of similar size to float into their storage positions. Once secured, the water is pumped out, leaving them resting on chocks.
The yacht has a permanent berth in the International Yacht Club Marina in Antibes, where her owner acquired the largest dock by buying the 55.78 metre superyacht Hanse together with its berth – he kept the berth and immediately sold Hanse, which has now been renamed Insignia.
Octopus is currently the largest explorer yacht in the world.
Builder / naval architecture: Lürssen
Exterior styling: Espen Oeino
Interior design: Jonathan Quinn Barnett / Sam Sorgiovanni
Diesel-electric powered yacht Al Mirqab was at one time better known as Project May, a name that cloaked her identity during a build that was carried out in strict secrecy under the supervision of Kusch Yachts in the Peterswerft Shipyard in Wewelsfleth, Germany. She is propelled by five 2,800kW generators that power two electric motors driving conventional shafts and a centrally positioned azimuthing electric pod drive located beneath the hull.
She is reported to have a top speed of 20 knots and a cruising speed of 18 knots. The yacht accommodates 36 guests and is run by 45 crew. The central feature of the accommodation is a grand staircase that floats through four floors, with three of its sides made from hand-cut crystal panels. The centre of the well is occupied by a suspended glass artwork commissioned from the Seattle-based artist Dale Chihuly.
Al Mirqab won the coveted Motor Yacht of the Year award at the World Superyacht Awards in 2009 and Best Interior Design in the motor yacht category for her Andrew Winch-designed interior. She belongs to Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.
Builder:Kusch Yachts Naval architecture: SDC / Kusch Yachts
Exterior styling: Tim Heywood
Interior design: Andrew Winch
Built for a Russian owner under an extreme blanket of secrecy, Serene, the first yacht from Fincantieri, the large Italian commercial shipyard in Muggiano, Italy, was launched in September 2010 with completion, blue hull paint and sea trials in 2011.
She is the largest yacht ever launched in Italy and features more than 4,000 square meters of interior space among seven decks, plus two helipads and a hangar. She reportedly carries a 100-metre submersible. Her builder’s next project is the 140 metre Victory.
She is featured in Volume 26 of The Superyachts.
Naval architecture / exterior styling: Espen Oeino
Interior design: Reymond Langton
This vessel’s Japanese-style name is sufficient clue that she was built for Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle. In 2006 he sold half ownership to media mogul David Geffen who bought the remaining half in 2010.
Reported to have originally cost of more than $290 million, rumour has it that Rising Sun’s length was extended by some 18 metres during construction (her project name was LE120, rather indicating an original length of 120 metres) to ensure she was larger than the 126.2 metre Octopus belonging to Microsoft’s co-founder, Paul Allen.
Rising Sun was built in Germany and launched in the autumn of 2004. She made her first appearance in the Mediterranean in the summer of 2005. Her five decks, which contain 8,000 square metres of living space, include a gym, a cinema, an extensive wine cellar and basketball court, plus accommodations for 16 in the owner’s party. One of her tenders is a catamaran whose main function is to carry the yacht’s 4×4 vehicle ashore.
Naval architecture: Jon Bannenberg
Interior design: Laura Seccombe
Built by a consortium of Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (HDW) in Kiel and the Lürssen shipyard in Bremen, Germany, Al Salamah is often referred to as Mipos, the code name used during the construction of this most secret of yachts. Mipos was short for ‘Mission Possible’, a statement proved correct by her delivery in 1999.
She has a length of 139.29 metres, a massive beam of 23.50 metres, and is reported to have a top speed of 21.5 knots. Both the interior design and the exterior styling are by the London-based Terence Disdale Design. Al Salamah was owned by Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, son of the late King Fahd, Governor of Riyadh. He is Saudi Arabia’s Defence Minister and the nation’s Crown Prince. Al Salamah was refitted by Lürssen in 2007.
Builders: Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft / Lürssen Naval architecture: Lürssen
Exterior styling / interior design: Terence Disdale
Ocean Victory (hull F.6218) was built Fincantieri’s Muggiano yard in Italy. This seven-deck yacht is based on a design by Espen Oeino, with an interior by Alberto Pinto and Laura Sessa. It includes internal sea water dockage for a 14 metre tender and six pools of up to eight meters in length. Her first steel plate was cut in September 2010. Little is known about this top-secret project, which is kept much under wraps and away from prying eyes.
Exterior Styling: Espen Oeino
Interior Design: Alberto Pinto / Laura Sessa
Launched in November 2011 by Abu Dhabi MAR, the 141 metre Yas, previously known under the project name Swift 141, is being built in a new facility in Abu Dhabi’s port area, using the steel hull of a 1978 Dutch-built navy frigate, which has been completely modified. New machinery, systems, outfit and luxury interior are being created and installed by sub-contractors to specifications by Abu Dhabi MAR. She is expected to have accommodation for 60 guests and 56 crew. The superstructure, built in advanced composites and glass, and the interior styling are by Pierrejean Design Studio of Paris who says the inspiration was the shape of a dolphin. Powered by twin MTU diesels, Yas will have a top speed of 26 knots.
Builder: De Schelde (1977) / Abu Dhabi MAR (rebuild) Naval Architecture: Royal Dutch Navy
Exterior / Interior Design: Pierrejean Design Studio
Originally built for the Ottoman governor of Egypt, Khedive Ismail, this historic yacht was present at the opening ceremony of the Suez Canal in 1869, when she was used to receive visiting dignitaries. She was lengthened by 12.1 metres in 1872, when her paddle wheels were removed, and by a further 5.2 metres in 1905. Her last major rebuild was in 1950.
In 1976, El Horriya was the Egyptian representative at the Bicentennial Fleet Review in New York harbour, after which she slipped into disrepair while being used as a museum ship. In 1992 a major effort was put into making her seaworthy enough to travel to Italy for the Christopher Columbus Fleet Review.
She now serves as the Presidential Yacht but is seldom seen in public. She is usually berthed in Alexandria, where she is cared for by the Egyptian Navy, which lists her as a training ship. Powered by three Parsons steam turbines, she has achieved a top speed of 16 knots, although today this is perhaps too optimistic.
El Horriya is the largest classic yacht in the world right now.
Builder: Samuda Brothers
Former names: Mahroussa
Commissioned in 1984, the 5,200-tonne Abdulaziz serves as the Royal Yacht for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who inherited her from the late King Fahd. She was built in 1984 by the Danish yard Helsingor Vaerft to a design by Maierform at a reported cost of $184m, an enormous sum at the time. Her interior, designed by the late David Hicks, who was renowned for his dramatically colourful work, blended ancient and modern. She was fitted out in Southampton, England.
One notable interior feature is the large lobby on her main deck which is said to be designed to mimic that of the Titanic. Her home port is Jeddah, where she is berthed beside the King’s palace. Latterly renamed Prince Abdulaziz, her accommodation includes a fully equipped hospital, a mosque and a cinema. The yacht is manned by a crew of approximately 65. Rumours that her onboard systems include surface-to-air missiles and an underwater surveillance system are unconfirmed.
Now showing her age, she is likely to be replaced in the near future. The yacht was refitted in 1987, 1996 and 2005.
Builder: Helsingør Værft
Naval architecture: Maierform
Interior design: David Hicks
Former names: Abdulaziz
Topaz was technically launched mid May 2012 when she emerged from her floating shed at the Lürssen yard and conducted sea trials in August. Very little is known about the motor yacht although she is the third largest yacht to be launched by the German yard and also belongs to a member of the UAE elite, although she flies a Cayman flag. Her exterior design is by Tim Heywood, who uniquely has his signature illuminated on her superstructure.
Exterior design: Tim Heywood
Interior layout: Terence Disdale
Shrouded in a veil of secrecy, this huge, beige-painted yacht was formerly codenamed Sunflower by her builder, Lürssen Yachts. Named Al Saïd at her launch from Lürssen’s Vegesack yard, this Germanischer Lloyd-classed, 15,850GT vessel was delivered to her new owner, the Sultan Qaboos bin Sa‘id Al Saïd of Oman, in March 2008. She sails under the Omani flag and her home port is Muscat, Oman.
Al Saïd has a top speed of around 25 knots and she is reported to have a crew complement of 150. Her concert hall can accommodate a 50-strong orchestra and her majestic, classically panelled interior offers huge entertaining spaces and accommodations for 65 guests. Otherwise, the yacht features six decks and is equipped with a helipad and a cinema.
Builder / naval architecture: Lürssen
Exterior styling: Espen Øino
Interior design: Jonathan Quinn Barnett
This vast 162 metre yacht was originally commissioned by Prince Jefri of Brunei with exterior styling and interior design by Andrew Winch. The project was suspended in 1998 with just the bare hull and partially complete superstructure. It was eventually sold to the Dubai government, and responsibility passed to Kostis Antonopoulos of Platinum Yachts, which prepared a new in-house interior design.
Now complete, Dubai is the royal yacht of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai. The accommodation is designed for 24 guests and comprises an owner’s suite, five VIP suites and six guest suites, all with open balconies. One special feature is the 21.3m-wide atrium. Other facilities include a swimming pool, barbecue area, cinema, disco, a landing platform for a Blackhawk helicopter, a gymnasium, a garage for the yacht’s submarine and a vast array of water toys. Full certification was obtained from Lloyds Register of Shipping in October 2006 and she has since made several voyages.
Dubai was featured in volume 23 of The Superyachts book
Builders: Blohm + Voss / Lürssen (2003) / Platinum Yachts (2006)
Naval architecture: Blohm + Voss / Lürssen
Exterior styling: Andrew Winch
Interior design: Nakheel Interiors
After five years of intensive design, development and construction, Eclipseleft the Blohm + Voss yard in Hamburg on the 9th December 2010, to formally take her place as the largest superyacht in the world. Managed by Blue Ocean Yacht Management, Eclipse features a diesel-electric propulsion system with generators powering rotating Azipod drives, dramatic exterior styling and a stunning interior design by London-based Terence Disdale Design, which has been responsible for all aspects of aesthetic design and layout, including the superstructure design, deck layouts, interior design and construction supervision.
Her accommodation includes an owner’s deck of 56 metres in length and facilities for up to 92 crew and owner’s personal staff. Her interior boasts hundreds of custom finishes exclusively developed for this project, while her deck areas include a 16 metre swimming pool, the largest on any yacht, whose base can be raised to transform the area into a dance floor. The yacht can also accommodate three helicopters, one on each of the two helipads and the third in a storage hangar below the fore deck.
Eclipse was voted Motor Yacht of the Year at the World Superyacht Awards in 2011.
Builder / naval architecture: Blohm + Voss
Exterior styling / interior design: Terence Disdale
Azzam is another feather in the cap for Lürssen Yachts, which has been involved in the building of six out of the top 10 largest yachts. Not much is known about this behemoth of a yacht other than the specs and that her interior is in a relaxed French Empire style, but it is rumoured to have been built for a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates. The technical engineering was directed by Mubarak Saad al Ahbabi for the owner. She has an impressive speed due to her innovative water-jet propulsion system (two fixed jets, two directional), which catapults this 180-metre yacht at a staggering speed of 31.5+ knots. At 17.5 metres longer than Roman Abramovich’s Eclipse, this boat takes the prestigious title of the world’s largest yacht.
Exterior Styling: Nauta Yacht Design
Interior Styling: Christophe Leoni