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Al Salamah: The ultimate yacht

The Al Salamah is more of an ocean liner than a yacht



(CNN) -- There are yachts, there are luxury yachts, there are super-luxury yachts, and then there is the Al Salamah, a vessel beside which most similar boats look like little more than glorified pedalos.

Owned by Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi Defence Minister and son of the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, the Al Salamah is not a yacht in the true sense of the word.

She has no mast, no sails, no complicated bits of rope that you have to pull to make her move or turn.

Rather, she is the most exclusive member of an exclusive club of so-called mega-yachts, giant motorized vessels that have more in common with ocean liners than with traditional yachts.

Even by the rarified standards of this multi-million dollar world, the Al Salamah still stands out for its extraordinary opulence and high-spec engineering.

Powered by two 8770 hp MTU diesel engines, and with a top speed of 21.5 knots (39.8 kms/hour), she boasts, according to Xavier Penez of specialist Web site, eight decks, 82 rooms, 8,000 square meters of living space, 3,300 square meters of teak decking and an estimated crew of 96.

As well as all the expected mega-yacht accessories such a helipad, Jacuzzis, cinema, motor-launches and interior design by a famous stylist -- in this case Britain's Terence Disdale -- she also possesses a number of unique extras, notably an indoor swimming pool covered by a glass roof.

She was designed and built -- under conditions of utmost secrecy -- by famed German shipyards HDW and Luerssen, and launched in 1999 (her original name, used during construction, was Mipos, short for "Mission Possible" -- an optimistic reference to the fact that her owners wanted her delivered so quickly and to such high specifications.)

Despite her impressive dimensions, she is not officially the largest motor yacht in the world, a record held by the 160-meter (525ft) Dubai.

Whereas the latter is a state owned vessel, however (it belongs to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai), the Al Salamah is in private hands, and although she is smaller -- a mere 140 meters (457ft) long and 23.5 meters (77ft) wide -- she remains the largest, and most luxuriously appointed non-state vessel currently cruising the high seas.

Details of her precise value are hard to determine -- "She is a pretty secretive yacht," admits Richard Thiel, Editor-in-Chief of Power and Motoryacht Magazine.

Based on the value of the world's second largest private yacht, however -- the 138-meter (452ft) Rising Sun, owned by Oracle's Larry Ellison -- she is worth at least $200 million, and probably more.

The Annaliesse can be hired for $800,000 per week

Sadly -- or perhaps fortunately given the amount of money it would probably cost -- the Al-Salamah is strictly a private vessel and is not available for public hire.

For those who fancy a taste of the nautical high-life, however, there are plenty of other hyper-luxurious alternatives, of which the cream of the crop are probably the 85.3 meter (280ft) Annaliesse and her identical sister ship the Alysia.

Owned and run by Monaco-based Liveras Yachts, the ships can accommodate up to 36 guests at a time, and offer, among other facilities, a cinema, a library, a business center, a fully-equipped on-board hospital, two full-time beauticians, a gymnasium and a giant spa including marble-faced Roman bath.

The rental cost per week: $800,000.

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