Does size really matter? When it comes to superyachts, it seems the answer is most certainly “yes.”
The title for world’s biggest yacht was once held by the same vessel, El Mahrousa, for over a century.
But it’s changed hands far more frequently in the years since then as more and more supersized yachts come onto the scene.
While demand for large yachts has steadily grown over the past few decades, sales have shot up considerably since 2019 due to the increasing number of billionaires emerging, as well as the impact of the pandemic.
“The market is telling us that yards are building bigger and bigger sheds to build bigger and bigger yachts,” explains yacht designer Oliver Stirling from Stirling & Co.
“And with increasing high net worth individual wealth, the demand for large yachts is going to always increase.”
“The pandemic has also illustrated that commercial cruise ships may or may not be desirable for holidays, vacation or leisure destinations.”
Many of the largest yachts on the water were built by German shipyard Lurssen, which has eight shipyards across northern Germany
“Over the years we’ve been in the fortunate position of being able to accommodate, because of the infrastructural abilities that we have, that occasional demand that has arisen for a rather large yacht,” Michael Breman, sales director at Lurssen, tells CNN Travel
“Every large yacht that you see that comes from our shipyard is the result of a very careful and painstaking discussion with designers, owners and advisers in order to ensure that it reflects the wishes of the individual [owner].”
The current world’s biggest yacht measures 180 meters, and a 183-meter vessel is due for delivery in 2024, but a number of gigayacht concepts have been floated about over the years, with some in the very early stages of development.
While Stirling stresses that there will come a point in which superyachts “can’t grow any further,” he believes its only a matter of time before we’ll see a superyacht over 200 meters long become a reality.
“Someone’s going to want to build the first 200 meter plus motor yacht and I’m sure that that will just carry on the trend,” he adds.
From privately owned mega yachts, to those available to charter, and even vessels that are still under construction, we take a look at 10 of the biggest superyachts in the world.
It’s held the record for world’s largest privately owned superyacht since 2013, but this 180-meter vessel was originally meant to be 35 meters shorter.
Built by Lurssen with guidance from engineer Mubarak Saad al Ahbabi, Azzam, which cost an estimated $600 million to construct, grew longer and longer during the optimization process.
With room to accommodate up to 36 guests and at least 80 crew members, it’s equipped with an on board gym as well as a golf training room.
The superyacht’s exterior lines are the work of Nauta Design, and the studio’s founder Mario Pedol has previously told how onlookers often remark that it looks much smaller from a distance.
Unlike vessels of a similar size, Azzam is just as fast as it is large, hitting speeds of up to 31.5 knots.
When Eclipse was launched at the Blohm + Voss Hamburg shipyard back in 2010, it was the world’s largest private yacht.
But the 162.5-meter vessel was eclipsed by Azzam a few years later, while the delivery of the 164-meter Fulk Al Salamah in 2016 saw it fall even further down the ranking of biggest yachts.
Nonetheless, Eclipse remains one of the largest and most impressive superyachts ever to hit the waters.
Owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, Eclipse is powered by four MTU diesel engines and has a top speed of 25 knots and a cruising speed of 22 knots.
Fitted with 18 guest cabins and two helipads, the vessel can accommodate up to 36 guests and 66 crew members at a time.
Its stand out features include a 16-meter swimming pool that transforms into a dance floor and a wood-burning fire pit.
Dilbar may not be the longest yacht in the world, but it’s certainly the largest by interior volume, with a gross tonnage of just under 16,000.
Named after the late mother of the owner, Uzbekistan-born billionaire Alisher Usmanov, the 156-meter vessel was designed by naval architect Espen Oino and delivered by Lurssen in 2016.
Made with a steel hull and an aluminum superstructure, Dilbar can reach a top speed of around 22.5 knots and happens to be equipped with a 25-meter swimming pool, the largest ever installed on a superyacht.
With space for up to 24 guests and about 100 crew members, there’s also an expansive garden on board, along with two helipads.
The superyacht is fitted with an electric-diesel hybrid power, which helps to reduce its emissions while providing a top speed of 22.5 knots.
“One of the things that we have seen happening, and the clients are very sensitive to the issue, is to look for further ways of how we can improve the sustainability of the product we’re making,” says Breman.
“Not only in the process of manufacturing, and the things you use for the boat, but also in the way the boat operates.
“We are hopeful that in the next 10 to 15 years we’ll be able to deliver a yacht that will be emission free. We see that as a positive step.”
Measuring 145.72 meters, the Egyptian presidential yacht was launched in 1865 by the Samuda Brothers shipyard.
Although it lost its world’s largest yacht title to the 147-meter Prince Abdulaziz in the 1980s and has dropped further and further down the list in the years since then, El Mahrousa is still a significant vessel in the yachting world due to its rich history.
Designed by British naval architect Oliver Lang, who also devised Queen Victoria’s steam yacht Victoria & Albert II, El Mahrousa was originally built for Khedive Ismail, the Ottoman governor of Egypt.
The five-floor yacht became the first ship to cross the Suez Canal back in 1869 and would later become a naval training ship for the Egyptian government.
Powered by three Parsons steam turbines, it’s the oldest active superyacht in the world and can achieve a top speed of 16 knots.
Another Lurssen-built vessel, Flying Fox measures 136 meters and happens to be the largest charter vessel in the world.
While that means you don’t have to be invited by the owner to experience what it’s like on board, those keen to hire the luxurious superyacht for the week have to stump up at a minimum of €3 million ($3.5 million) for the privilege.
However, the price tag doesn’t seem to be putting off any of its admirers.
In fact, a spokesperson for Imperial Yachts, the yacht brokerage who manage Flying Fox and also oversaw the build, tells CNN Travel that interest has intensified in the last year, which has seen the minimum charter period extended beyond seven days.
Made up of six decks, Flying Fox can accommodate up to 36 day and 25 overnight guests who’ll be able to take advantage of its state of the art diving center, as well as its 400-square-meter spa, which is fitted with a cryotherapy sauna.
“Over the last 10 to 15 years we’ve seen development in areas like spas and fitness that have carried over from domestic or urban lifestyle into the boat lifestyle,” says Breman. “Some of the spas we have put on boats have been exceptional.”
Celebrity couple Beyonce and Jay Z were spotted on board the superyacht, which has a top speed of 20 knots and a cruising speed of 15 knots, earlier this year.
Sailing Yacht A
Sailing Yacht A is one of a number of significant superyachts by prolific designer Philippe Starck and is said to have cost over $400 million to construct.
Delivered by Germany’s Nobiskrug yard, the 143-meter sail-assisted motor yacht is powered by two engines, providing a maximum speed of 21 knots.
Comprising eight decks, the futuristic vessel can accommodate up to 14 guests and 37 crew members.
While details regarding its amenities have largely been kept under wraps, Sailing Yacht A is rumored to be equipped with a glass observation pod, as well as a helipad and a submarine.
“Born from the desire of the owner to ‘push the boundaries of engineering and challenge the status quo of the industry’, Sailing Yacht A is undoubtedly one of the most visionary projects Nobiskrug has ever been involved in,” Holger Kahl, then managing director of Nobiskrug, said at the time of its launch in 2017.
The largest yacht in the world by volume at the time it was built, Dubai was originally commissioned by Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei.
However, the ambitious project, which has a gross tonnage of 12,488, would go on to be passed around during the build process before being taken on by current owner Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai.
The 162-meter superyacht designed by Andrew Winch of Winch Design was built by Platinum Yachts in Dubai (where else?) at an estimated cost of $400 million.
On board, Dubai holds everything from a disco, to a cinema, along with a submarine and a lobster tank across its eight decks and is powered by four MTU-20V diesel engines that can deliver maximum speeds of at least 25 knots.
Delivered by Lurssen in 2021, Nord is one of the newest, and biggest, superyachts on the water.
Formerly known as Project Opus, the 142-meter superyacht, which has a steel hull and aluminum superstructure, was devised by Italian design studio Nuvolari Lenard.
“Nord was designed with one idea in mind: she must cause strong emotions in every observer, not only through her sheer size, but with the design itself. No one should be left indifferent,” Dan Lennard from Nuvolari-Lenard said in a statement, before describing the vessel as “a warship wearing a tuxedo.”
“Whether you like the design or not, it must strike you. Nord is a serious ship first and foremost, but she also transcends the traditional language of yacht design.”
Powered by four engines, Nord has a maximum speed of around 20 knots and a volume of 10,154 gross tonnage.
It covers six decks and can accommodate up to 36 guests in its 20 cabins, with amenities such as a beach club, as well as a spa and two helipads on board.
Developed by REV (Research Expedition Vessel) Ocean, a not-for-profit organization established by Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Rokke, REV is an entirely different kind of superyacht.
The 183-meter expedition vessel currently under construction at Norwegian shipyard VARD is scheduled for delivery in 2024.
Designed by naval architect Espen Oino, REV is to be powered by ultra-quiet hybrid propulsion and will have a top speed of 17 knots.
Once launched, it will technically take over from Azzam as the world’s largest superyacht.
However, there’s been much debate over whether REV can be classed as a superyacht given that its primary purpose is to study the oceans of the world, although it will be available for charter for recreational purposes and expeditions.
With space for 28 guests in its 18 cabins, the vessel is built with a steel hull and aluminum superstructure and has a gross tonnage of 17,440.
Unlike many of the other superyachts featured, Project Y910 is still under construction.
But the 120-meter conversion project, which is currently up for auction, could join the ranks as one of the biggest superyachts in the world within the next two years if it finds a buyer soon.
Originally built by Polish shipyard Stocznia Gdynia, it was launched as a 90-meter passenger ship named Vladimir Chivilikhin in 1990, serving as a commercial vessel for nearly a decade before it was refitted and expanded.
However, the project was later put on hold and remains unfinished.
Project Y910 was listed for sale as a conversion project earlier this year, with a €25 million asking price, and is now being auctioned online via Concierge Auctions, in partnership with Boathouse Auctions.
Although yachts of this size tend to take around five years to build, Project Y910 is already partially complete, which means the process will likely be far shorter.
“She’s an amazing vessel in terms of what she could offer a potential owner,” Stirling, who has been involved with the design for the project for over 20 years, tells CNN Travel.
“It’s designed to be an explorer type yacht. It can go anywhere, whether it’s polar regions, the Pacific or the Mediterranean. As many adventurous locations as you want to go to.
The vessel has been receiving a lot of interest from bidders during the auction, which ends on November 23, and with no reserve set, it’s set to become the biggest yacht ever sold under the hammer.
“It would be fantastic to see her complete,” adds Stirling.