Orient Express Cruises sets sail on the world’s largest superyacht

Orient Express Cruises sets sail on the world's largest superyacht
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By Lebawit Lily Girma

(Bloomberg) –If you’re riding the original, reimagined Orient Express train in 2025 and staying at an Orient Express hotel that’s at the top of your bucket list, make room: The Orient Express Silenseasan opulent 722-foot (220-meter-long) ship with three masts towering over 300 feet is said to be the tallest in the world Sailing yacht – and superyacht, period – and will be sailing Mediterranean and Caribbean routes from Spring 2026. It will offer 54 suites with space for 120 passengers. Reservations begin as early as 2024.

The Orient Express Silenseas is the first entry into the cruise industry by global hotel giant Accor SA in partnership with French shipbuilder Chantiers de l’Atlantique. AccorHotels shared details about its future cruises with Bloomberg before it was publicly announced on Wednesday. Two yachts will be built, with the second delivery scheduled for the first quarter of 2027.

“We are trying to go back to the best shipbuilding years of all time, between 1934 and 1938, which were extremely innovative at the time,” says Sébastien Bazin, AccorHotels Chief Executive Officer. Bazin recalls the scenes of the Côte d’Azur, St Tropez and Cannes – a time of music, philosophy and art, he says. It will mean “going back in history but with a modern design”.

The project will be financed 70-80% by commercial banks, with the rest by a consortium of equity partners in which Accor will hold a minority stake. Accor declined to share the cost of building this vessel, but for reference, Jeff Bezos’ nearly half-size, 416-foot luxury sailing yacht, also with three masts, is estimated at more than $500 million estimated; Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s confiscated 512-foot superyacht has been valued at $600-$750 million

Aside from its design and craftsmanship, which are entirely made in France, Bazin says his goals for the Orient Express Silenseas are two things: to offer the best in terms of luxury, experience and design and to travel with sustainability and environmental protection in mind. The cruise industry is the travel sector least known for its environmental or climate sensitivity and lags badly in efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Also Read: Superyacht Owners Have Opportunity to Take Action on Climate Change If They Choose

A greener cruise

The Orient Express Silenseas will be diesel-free and will use a hybrid propulsion system with wind as the main power source, weather permitting. The ship’s name suggests you’ll glide silently across the seas thanks to three rigid glass-polyester panel sails and a 16,145-square-foot wind propulsion system, all designed by Chantiers de l’Atlantique. “We might not stop when we’re supposed to because the wind is too strong, and that’s how I want it,” says Bazin.

However, since it is a cruise line with scheduled routes that Bazin says is expected to depart from the Mediterranean, the ship will also be fitted with an engine that runs on liquefied natural gas (LNG), which would reduce carbon emissions by 20% compared to the Use of diesel, the company said. (Note that there is currently no zero-emission ocean cruising and LNG is a type of fossil fuel, albeit less polluting).

The Orient Express Silenseas will also be built ready to use green hydrogen if legislation allows in the future, which Bazin says may happen by the time the ship launches. Other greening ambitions include the use of Shore power, allowing the ship to be plugged into power once docked instead of leaving its engine running, and a sonar system to detect marine mammals on its route to avoid collisions.

building a new experience

Sailing the seas on the Orient Express undoubtedly means offering the mystical and luxurious comfort the brand is known for. Renowned French architect Maxime d’Angeac, whose projects include the future Orient Express trainthe Guerlain store on the Champs-Elysées and the Orient Express Hotel in Rome lead the interior design, which is meant to evoke the French Riviera.

“The onboard experience is very similar to the experience we offer at Raffles in Singapore inside and outside of the hotel,” says Bazin. “As a luxury brand, Orient Express isn’t a product, it’s a feeling.”

Then, he says, expect it to be far more luxurious than the Ritz-Carlton’s superyacht. It will also be twice as expensive, Bazin continues, noting that the latter ship, despite being nearly as long, can hold twice as many passengers. Fares on the 623 foot Evryma, which can accommodate nearly 300 people, ranges from about $7,000 to $25,000 per person for seven-night cruises.

One of the luxe amenities the ultra-rich are looking for in the wake of the pandemic is space, says Bazin.Hence suites, which average a spacious 750 square feet, which is roughly the size of an average New York one-bedroom apartment. Six suites on the upper deck can be combined into a 15,230 square meter presidential suite with a private 5,700 square meter terrace.

guests on board Orient Express Silenseas You will also find two swimming pools including a lap pool, two restaurants, an oyster bar, a speakeasy bar, a spa, an amphitheater cabaret and a private recording studio for people ready to get creative at sea. Shore excursions are based on cultural and natural experiences.

Another distinguishing feature of the Orient Express Silenseas: It is designed to be chartered by private companies and for events, about a third of the time. The boat can be used for the Festival de Cannes, for the Parisian fashion house shows on board, for the Grand Prix in places like Dubai or Monaco or for private anniversary celebrations where you invite your 50 best friends.

As the first cruise begins, Orient Express’ original muse comes full circle: the sea. Belgian civil engineer Georges Nagelmackers’ 1867 luxury transatlantic ship voyage from Europe to America inspired him to launch the world-famous train in 1883.

“The only thing we still don’t know is whether we should have black tie on board,” says Bazin.

© 2023 Bloomberg LP

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