Top 10 design features of the world's largest yachts

Private owner's deck

The private, shaded owner’'s deck of CRN superyacht _Chopi Chopi_

While the waters of the world are dotted with custom yachts, fully bespoke from bridge deck to bilge, the old saying about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery comes into play too. That’'s because many of these yachts, including ones in our register of the top 200 largest yachts in the world, have features that the owners first saw on another yacht.

This isn'’t to say that clients are facing a copycat problem. On the contrary, the way that superyacht owners, designers and builders put special spins on the features makes it all the more interesting. What follows is a top 10 list of must-have superyacht amenities found on many of the largest yachts in the world.

1. Private owner's deck

Gone are the days of simply having a large stateroom forward on the main or upper deck. Today’'s large yachts require a whole apartment on a private deck to satiate superyacht owners.

Witness Blohm & Voss-built superyacht Eclipse, currently the second largest yacht in the world at 162.5 metres, with an owner’'s deck measuring about 56 metres in length. Then there’'s the 119 metre Blohm & Voss Motor Yacht A, with a loft-like owner'’s suite that also includes an aft-facing balcony. The 82 metre Graceful, also from the Blohm & Voss shipyard, has a similar setup.

Some owners want more than a mere balcony, though, which is why motor yachts like the 114.5 metre Lürssen Pelorus include a private al fresco area off the owner'’s suite.

The 80 metre CRN superyacht Chopi Chopi, pictured above, has an expansive private outside space on the owner’'s deck too. Part of it is shaded, with furnishings suitable for taking in an anchorage or enjoying morning coffee. The part that'’s not shaded doubles as a helipad. The owner'’s deck additionally features a pool and a TV lounge.

Helicopter deck

_Quattroelle's_ striking EC135

Sure, the best limo tenders allow you to arrive in style, but it’'s hard to compare the experience with being whisked from the airport straight to the deck of your yacht.

The list of superyachts with helipads is long, but some of the top 200 largest boats are taking the concept up a notch, such as the 85.5 metre Oceanco Sunrays, whose whirlybird has a matching colour scheme, and the 88 metre Lürssen Quattroelle, whose popular EC 135 Eurocopter has an unmistakeable paint job.

If you don'’t like your chopper being left out in the open, borrow a page from the owner of the 99 metre award-winning Feadship Madame Gu. That yacht’'s helicopter tucks away in a belowdecks hangar, as do those on some of the world's biggest explorer yachts such as  Luna and Octopus.

Drive-in tender bay

_Octopus'_ huge internal dock

When imagination and technology meet they make for fantastic features like innovative tender garages, including floodable garages, where guests can board comfortably from within the yacht.

Tenders and toys can float right in, and once they’'re securely in place, the water gets pumped out, taking mere minutes. When the 78.6 metre Royal Denship Pegasus VIII was delivered (as Princess Mariana) in 2003, she took yacht watchers by storm with her aft arrangement for two boats.

She wasn'’t the only yacht to debut that year with this novel feature. The 126.19 metre Lürssen Octopus was handed over in 2003, too, though kept most of her features unknown until she started cruising in the public eye.

Not until photographers started getting good photos of Octopus did most people learn her tender bay allowed two craft to manoeuvre in. Each is impressively in the 19 metre range; one is a custom Vikal named Man-of-War, and the other, even more impressive, is a mini-submarine.

The 58 metre superyacht J'ade is one of the more recently launched yachts to feature one of these drive-in tender bays.

Photo courtesy of Barry Peters / Flickr

Exact-replica tenders

96 metre _Palladium_ has a matching tender

Limo tenders are understandably popular, as they are able to shuttle owners and guests to and from shore while offering protection from wind and water. Yachts like the 95 metre Blohm & Voss Palladium and the 85.6 metre Derecktor superyacht Aquila (ex-Cakewalk) take the concept up a notch as their owners commissioned tenders to complement and exactly match the mothership’'s styling.

Palladium has two 10 metre tenders (capable of 40 knots, no less) built by Cougar Marine to specifications by Michael Leach Design, who also styled the yacht.

Aquila has an 11 metre Vikal limo tender styled by Tim Heywood, who also designed Aquila herself. Then there'’s Blohm & Voss Motor Yacht A, with three distinctly different tenders, one being an 11 metre craft with lines penned by Philippe Starck to match his equally different vision for A.

Picture courtesy of Bugsy Gedlek

Bold paint jobs

Superyacht paint jobs don'’t need to be just one or two colours,– note the creative paint scheme on Feadship yacht _Tango_

White hulls and superstructures don'’t suit everybody, and even dark-blue or green hulls are too conservative for others. Maybe that was the thinking behind Feadship’'s 77.7 metre Tango, which makes clever use of metallic greys and blues. The greys wind their way across the superstructure, aft to front, in shapes akin to waves.

Sports courts

Feadship superyacht _Musashi_ has a permanently mounted basketball hoop on the aft deck

Who needs to watch Wimbledon on a large-screen TV when there'’s an al fresco deck area suitable for sports? Feadship superyachts Madame Gu, Musashi and Hampshire II each have terrific setups.

The 87.78 metre Musashi has a permanently mounted basketball hoop on her aft deck, modelled after the one on Rising Sun. (Both were commissioned by Larry Ellison, so it makes sense.) Not to be left out, also at 87.78 metres Fountainhead, has an al fresco basketball court, as do superyachts Tatoosh and Octopus.

The 78.5 metre Feadship Hampshire II’'s guests can play basketball, too, but also badminton, tennis and even football on the expansive foredeck, once the crew ring the area with specially designed nets to prevent balls from going overboard. It also has a zipline and a squash court.

Indoor gardens

_Stella Maris_ has an on board indoor garden

Fresh flowers are ordered by many owners once in port, but the 72.1 metre VSY superyacht Stella Maris offers her owner and guests visions of greenery at all times thanks to glass-enclosed, vertical gardens that rise from the main deck to the level above.

The goal was to treat the owner and guests to green landscapes while at sea regardless of season; no need to venture to the Caribbean or other warm climes come wintertime. Even smaller yachts are incorporating gardens of all types; the 55 metre Zen-inspired Benetti superyacht Ocean Paradise, has a Zen garden in the main-deck foyer that changes every day.


Ultimate relaxation can be found on board superyachts in spas, such as on board _J’'ade_

What better way to relax on board a superyacht than to have massage rooms and saunas/hammams at your disposal. The 99.14 metre Christina O’'s Turkish bath, outfitted with 60 tons of marble, delights the eyes as much as the spirit, but that’'s just one area in the multi-room onboard spa. It further includes two massage rooms and a hairdressing salon.

The 70 metre Rossinavi High Power III (ex-Numptia) has a spa that includes a sauna, steam room and gym. Even many of the yachts ‘too small’ to rank on the top 200 largest yachts in the world have these features. For instance, bright-green mosaic tiles used in the Turkish bath aboard the 60 metre CRN J’'ade leave no doubt as to how she got her name.

Infinity pools

_Alfa Nero's_ infinity pool ranks among the best

Ever since the day she was delivered in 2007, the 81.27 metre iconic Oceanco yacht Alfa Nero has turned heads as much for her aft-deck infinity pool as she has for her overall looks. Alfa Nero's pool still ranks as one of the best superyacht pools.

The 86 metre Oceanco Seven Seas and the 72.5 metre Dunya Yachts superyacht Axioma (launched as Red Square) have infinity pools, too. When Axioma is at anchor, lounge chairs can be set up on her swim platform, directly beneath the pool’'s front, for a striking effect.

Floor-to-ceiling glass

The 78 metre _Venus_ has an extensive amount of glass

When the 70.7 metre Lürssen superyacht Skat was delivered in 2002, even those who didn'’t like her styling had to admit the expanses of glass made the largest traditional yacht windows look tiny. The idea caught on, and now there are a whole host of yachts of all sizes that have made the most of glass.

As with many of these top 10 must-have superyacht design features, they may first have debuted on a yacht where size posed few limits to one'’s imagination, but these features proved too good not to integrate into the rest of the fleet. This is perhaps most recently seen on the groundbreaking 78 metre Feadship superyacht Venus, built for none other than innovator Steve Jobs.

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