French shipbuilder Chantiers de l'Atlantique has partnered with luxury hotel group Accor to develop a novel hybrid vessel, combining wind power and LNG, that is expected to be the world's largest sailing ship.
The new ship, the Orient Express Silenseas, aims to push ‘the limits of what is possible’ and will be built based on a concept design created by Chantiers de l'Atlantique in 2018.
“With a signed letter of intent to order two ships, Chantiers de l'Atlantique is proud to herald a new era in the shipbuilding industry with Silenseas,” Laurent Castaing, Managing Director of Chantiers de l'Atlantique, comments, calling the concept “the quintessence of our savoir-faire in the fields of naval architecture, the construction of sophisticated hulls, as well as the design of luxurious spaces.”
Taking its name from the famous Orient Express train, the new vessel is expected to hit the water in 2026 and will feature three rigid sails with a surface area of 1,500 meters each. These will be hoisted on a balestron rig, with three tilting masts reaching more than 100 meters high, able to ensure up to 100% of the propulsion in suitable weather conditions.
This wind power system will be complemented with an LNG propulsion system capable of assisting or completely powering the vessel. The designers also aim to future-proof this system by using green hydrogen “once the technology is approved for ocean passenger ships”.
“With Orient Express Silenseas, we are beginning a new chapter in our history, taking the experience and excellence of luxury travel and transposing it onto the world’s most beautiful seas,” Sébastien Bazin, CEO of Accor, said. “This exceptional sailing yacht, with roots in Orient Express’ history, will offer unparalleled service and refined design spaces, reminiscent of the golden age of mythical cruises.”
Interior layout and decor will be designed by architect Maxime d'Angeac while Nantes-based design company Stirling Design International will handle the exterior architecture.
Once complete, the ship will measure 220 metres in length, with a tonnage of 22,300 UMS. It will feature 54 Suites, two swimming pools including a lap pool, two restaurants and a speakeasy bar. Topping the extravagant accomodation will be a sprawling 1,415-square-meter Presidential Suite with a 530-square-meter private terrace.
Around 70-80% of financing for the project will come from commercial banks, with the remainder provided by Accor and a majority equity partner.