There is a saying: how do you make a small fortune in the boating business? Start with a large fortune. This is not just a barstool witticism, it’s actually very true: when it comes to superyachts, only those with money to burn need apply.
Once you factor in dozens of crew members, you could find that running a superyacht is more expensive than a private jet mile-for-mile, and at least the jet is probably getting you somewhere for a specific reason.
So just how much are superyachts? It’s probably best you sit down. Annemarie Gathercole, director of yacht charter at Yachting Partners International, says as a very rough guide a 25 metre yacht (technically a super yacht is a yacht that is 24 metres or above) will be in the $1-2m price bracket. A 100 metre mega yacht with a top speed of 25 knots and 50 crew members will cost in the region of $260m. But then things get really expensive.
According to Gathercole, when it comes to running the yacht, costs depend on the yacht’s size, the number of crew, its condition, whether the owner makes it available for charter, where and how often they use it and where it is registered. As a very general indicator, it usually costs between eight to 12 per cent of the purchase price per annum to operate and maintain. Which means the world’s largest yacht, Azzam, with a sticker price of $660m could cost $70m a year just to run.
When it comes to spec on superyachts, different people prioritize different things. “Luxury is subjective,” explains Gathercole. “For some clients bigger is better, and the sheer size of the yacht and the number of guests they are able to accommodate is their primary focus. For others, it is more about the design, speed or facilities onboard. This could include steam and sauna rooms, a gym, helipad, mini-submarine, cinema, masseurs, conference facilities, or an infinity pool. For others, luxury relates to the activities you can do on the yacht – whether it be having an on-board hairdresser, or a Waverunner or seabobs to take out.”
If biggest is best, then look no further than Azzam. Created by family-run German boatbuilder Lurssen, this is the largest Superyacht in the world at 180 metres. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the proud owner of this vessel, which cost a cool $660m.
Power comes from a mix of two gas turbines and two diesel engines churning out 94,000hp and giving Azzam a top speed of around 32 knots – not bad when you consider some Sunseekers hit just over 40 knots. The interior design is the work of Christophe Leoni and, while little is known about the inside, it is open-plan, includes a salon and has around 50 suites. Rivaling some smaller cruise ships, it also only took three years to build.
Eclipse was once the world’s largest yacht until it was eclipsed (sorry) by Azzam, but that doesn’t mean this yacht is any less impressive. Featuring its own submarine, missile defense system, two helipads, two swimming pools, a cinema and an armor-plated master suite, this is the kind of ship that will make Bond villains jealous.
Eclipse is owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, a person who buys a Premiership football club in the same way we might invest in a Subbuteo set. Arguably even sleeker than Azzam, this 164m vessel has 70 crew members and can accommodate 36 guests in 18 cabins. One of the swimming pools, stretching 16m, has an adjustable depth so it can be converted into a dance floor at the touch of a button.
Sailing Yacht A
Not content with having the kind of money to fly around space (Space Shuttle launches were $450m a mission), billionaires are engaged in a constant game of one-upmanship. If the rumors are true, Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko named his vessel “Sailing Yacht A” just so he can be listed at the top of shipping registers.
The boat itself is high enough as it is: at 142m long, its masts are almost 90m high. With a delicate part-battleship, part-yacht aesthetic, it is unsurprisingly the largest sailing boat on earth, reaching a top speed of around 18 knots. The interior was created by renowned French designer Philippe Starck. Just make sure to watch your heeling, or the helicopter may fall off the roof.
If you ever wondered what a Vegas Casino would look like if you turned it into a boat, the Dubai will put you on the right lines – well from the outside at least. With its white hull, arrow-like design and de rigeur helicopter on top, it is all pretty standard superyacht stuff from the outside; inside the 162m yacht it is as downplayed as a Kim Kardashian photo shoot, featuring a retina shattering colour scheme of reds, greens, purples and wood.
On Dubai’s deck you’ll find a variety of pools and hot tubs, although much of the deck is enclosed and cooled by ice cold A/C to combat the Dubai weather.
A new entry this year is Dilbar, a quaint little boat of 156m with a steel hull and aluminum superstructure that was delivered to its new Russian owner Alisher Usmanov on June 24. This is cutting edge superyacht design and another product of the Lurssen boatyard. While fourth in terms of exterior scale, Dilbar is in fact the largest yacht in the world when it comes to interior space.
This 15,917 ton hunk of weekend throwaway money has 3,800 sqm of interior space – that’s around 90 average Berlin one room flats. The interior is shrouded with secrecy – what we do know is there is a small sitting area and a swimming platform at the back, and the emphasis is clearly on what’s inside rather than that. The tonnage eclipses that of even Assam, the world’s largest yacht, so don’t expect the inside to be pared-back minimalism. Helipad count is two for Dilbar.
Prince Abdulaziz Yacht
The Air Max 1 of superyachts, the Prince Abdulaziz has been around since the mid-eighties but has a classic silhouette that has a classy flex compared to the modern competition. That said she is tech-y underneath – this custom yacht is equipped with an ultra-modern stabilization system which reduces roll motion effect and results in a smoother cruising experience. Prince Abdulaziz is capable of 22.00 knots flat out, and can accommodate 64 guests in palatial comfort, along with a faintly comical 65 staff – well you can’t have the guests outnumbering the staff right?
Prince Abdulaziz is one of the Royal Yachts of the Saudi Royal family and the sumptuous interior is the work of David Hicks. Unconfirmed rumours suggest that her on-board security include surface-to-air missiles and an underwater surveillance system.
Motor Yacht Yas
While it may only be the tenth largest yacht, Yas is probably one of the most significant superyachts of recent times. The 141m superyacht has a distinctive narrow profile inspired by a dolphin and was built on the steel hull of a former Royal Dutch Navy Frigate built in 1978.
The Thunderbirds-style superstructure has futuristic wraparound glass and is built from lightweight composite materials. This helps Yas reach a heady 26 knots from a modern diesel engine and variable pitch propellors, all with an unspecified low fuel economy. The interiors are the work of Pierrejean Design Studio and Yas’ master stateroom sits under the uniquely expansive glass design, which floods the room with unparalleled natural light.
Life does imitate art in the world of superyachts. In 2014 Leonardo DiCaprio went some way to replicating the famous yacht scene from Wolf of Wall Street when he borrowed Topaz from owner Man City owner Sheikh Mansour to watch the World Cup with 20 mates. It wasn’t the first time Leo had used the yacht either, reportedly grabbing it for an eighties themed party where he wore a velour pantsuit.
Topaz is a 147.25m yacht, custom built in 2012 by Lurssen. The yacht’s interior is the work of Terence Disdale and it has exterior styling by Tim Heywood Design.
Built by – you guessed it – Lurssen in 2008, Al Said was designed by Espen Oeino, with the interior work by Redman Whitely Dixon. She is no slouch, with a top speed of 25 knots, and can carry 70 guests and 155 staff in her 155m.
Interior features include huge entertaining spaces, with classically panelled wood walls, and a cavernous concert hall designed to hold a 50-piece orchestra. This yacht is also fitted with ‘zero speed stabilizers’ which come into play at anchor, ensuring stability, particularly in rough waters, so no drinks will get spilled.
The Streets of Monaco
For many people, having a yacht modelled on the place you live would mean dumpsters, a liquor store and a Subway filled with bored-looking teenagers. But chances are that the owner of this yacht will feel right at home. The entire deck has been designed as a micro replica of the streets of Monaco, complete with go-kart track on a miniature version of the F1 circuit.
It is, in short, ridiculous. But nobody said money buys taste, and with a price-tag when and if it is ever completed of $1bn, that’s a lot of naff for a lot of cash. The boat is the brainchild of UK-based Yacht Island Design, and you get the Monte Carlo Casino, Hotel de Paris, Cafe de Paris, La Rascasse, the Loews Hotel, numerous swimming pools and tennis courts all thrown in.
Back on land: check out 10 of the best super saloons.
- Words: Oliver Stallwood
- Lead image: eBaum's World