Famous Yachts of the World

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The word ‘yacht’ has been derived from the Dutch roots ‘jaght,’ ‘to hunt,’ and ‘schip’ meaning ‘ship.’ ‘Jaghtschip’ was applied to a private vessel for cruising. Currently, a yacht is considered a private boat or ship for recreational use only. Yachts are mainly categorized into sailing or motor driven, steam, or power boats. Although a yacht was originally supposed to be a light and fast boat to chase pirates in shallow waters, it is currently a luxurious boat mostly used by the rich for recreation. Yachts have various sizes, and those smaller than 12 meters are called cabin cruisers, and yachts over 30 meters are known as mega yachts. Yachts larger than 30 meters are designated as super yachts. Ensigns of the yachts differ from the state ensign as, unlike the Ensign of the U.S. which bears 50 stars, the U.S. yacht ensign has 13 stars.

1. Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia

Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia
Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia

HMY Britannia was built in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, U.K. and was launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, II on April 16, 1953. The yacht has 3 masts, and the upper 20 feet of the fore and main masts were hinged to allow its passage under the bridges. On her maiden voyage, she departed from Portsmouth on April 14, 1954 and arrived at Grand Harbor, Malta on April 22, 1954. She carried Prince Charles and Princess Annes to Malta to meet the Queen and Prince Philip at Tobruk. During her career, Britannia had carried the Queen, members of the royal and family, and many dignitaries including: President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President Gerald Ford, and President Ronald Regan. The Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana, were aboard the Britannia on their honeymoon trip.

2. Her Danish Majesty’s Yacht Dannebrog; A540

Her Danish Majesty's Yacht Dannebrog; A540
Her Danish Majesty’s Yacht Dannebrog

The royal yacht Dannebrog was built in 1931 at the naval dockyard in Copenhagen. It was named after the flag of Denmark and was launched by Queen Alexandrine in Copenhagen in 1931. Serving primarily as the royal yacht during peacetime, she was designed to serve as a naval hospital in wartime. Currently it serves as the private residence of Queen Margrethe, II of Denmark and the Prince Consort. She also serves the same purpose for other members of the royal family when they are on an official visit or recreational cruise in the Danish waters. It has royal accommodations, studies for the Queen and the Prince Escort, a lounge, and a  bedroom and furniture from the former 1879 vessel. The Dannebrog has an independent command comprised of the chief of the Queen’s naval household. The crew is comprised of 9 officers, 7 sergeants,  2 able-seamen, and 34 other crew members.

3. Eclipse


The super luxury yacht, Eclipse, was built by Blohm and Voss in Hamburg, Germany. Being 163.5 meters, it is the largest yacht in the world. It is also the most expensive yacht in the world. Mr. Roman Abramovich bought this yacht for more than £700 million. The yacht is provided with unique security features. It is covered with armor plating and is provided with bullet-proof windows. An advanced missile detection system is in place, and a submarine is provided at the bottom to escape in case of an emergency. The Eclipse has its own helicopters and has three helipads. It has a 5,000 square foot master suite. It is also provided with two swimming pools, a private theater, and a wellness center.

4.  Project Azzam

Project Azzam
Project Azzam

Project Azzam is the name given to the mega yacht under construction at Luressen Yachts in Bremen-Vegesack, Germany. It is being built for the Saudi royal family and is intended to surpass the Eclipse, the current largest yacht in the world. Although its length is not known exactly currently, yet it is estimated to be more than 180 meters and may reach 220 meters after the bow is attached. Project Azzam is going to be about 50 meters longer than the Eclipse. Its exterior has been designed by Nauta Yachts. The details of its interior design are being kept secret, but it is assumed to be equipped with ultra-modern safety equipment. It can be presumed quite easily that the yacht shall be provided with the amenities befitting for the royal occupants. It is being built at the exorbitant cost of $622 million.

5. ‘A’ Super Yacht

'A' Super Yacht
‘A’ Super Yacht

The letter A of the yacht M/Y A is taken from ‘A’ for ‘Alexandrine,’ the wife of the owner of the huge, luxury motor yacht. It was designed by Martin Francis and Phillipe Starck and was built at the HDW shipyard in Kiel, Germany. Its cost is estimated to be around $300 million. It was delivered to the owner, the Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, in 2008. It is 119 meters long with a displacement of 6,000 tons and is considered to be one of the largest motor yachts in the world. The A yacht has a helipad and its own helicopter. It has an eighty-foot-long, private top deck. The shape of the yacht is designed in view of cutting an iceberg if the need arises.

6. Rising Sun

Rising Sun
Rising Sun

With a length of 138 meters, the Rising Sun is one of the top ten largest yachts in the world. It was originally commissioned by the CEO of Oracle Larry Ellison. Currently it is owned by David Geffen. It was designed by John Bannenberg and built by the German Company Luressen, which is also building the world’s largest yatch under the name of Azzam Project. The yacht has 82 luxurious rooms on 5 stories. In addition to a helipad, it is provided with an extensive wine cellar, a gymnasium, an ultra-luxurious master bedroom and a private cinema.

7. Dubai Yacht

Dubai Yacht
Dubai Yacht

Next only to the Eclipse, the super luxury Dubai is the largest yacht in world. It is 162 meters long and was built by the most renowned German shipbuilding companies, Blomm & Voss and Luressen. It was built for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoumthe, the ruler of the Emirate of Dubai. Its air-conditioning system was originally designed on the basis for Mediterranean conditions, but it was redesigned in 2008 to suit the conditions of the Middle East.

8. MV Savarona

MV Savarona
MV Savarona

At the time of its launching in 1931, the 136-meter-long MV Savarona was the largest yacht in the world. It was originally built for American heiress Emily Roebling Cadwallader the granddaughter of the Brooklyn Bridge engineer John A. Roebling. Gibbs & Cox designed it while Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, Germany built this yacht in 1931 at the cost exceeding $4 million which is considered equivalent to $57 million in 2010 dollars. The Turkish Government bought it in 1938 for the ailing Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who spent 6 weeks aboard the MV Savarona just a few weeks before his death. She is currently owned by the Republic of Turkey which has given it to Kahraman Sadikoglu on a 49-year lease until 2038.

9. El Horria

El Horria
El Horria

El Horria was a royal yach, built in 1865 for the Khedive, the ruler of Egypt Ismail Pasha. The Samuda Brothers built it on the River Thames and designed it like HMV Victoria and  Albert II. Her original length was 128.5 meters but was increased to about 140 meters in 1872 and once again to the ultimate length of 145.72 meters in 1905. El Horria, originally called Mahroussa, is famous for being the first ship to pass through the newly built Suez Canal in 1869. After the abdication of King Farouk, the Egyptian took over the yacht and put it to military use. It is presently in the custody of the Egyptian Navy and goes to sea twice or thrice in a year for a day or two only.

10. SMY Hohenzollern

SMY Hohenzollern
SMY Hohenzollern

SMY Hohenzollern II was one of the many German royal yachts used by the German Emperors from 1878 to 1918. She was named after the House of Hohenzollern. SMY Hohenzollern II was built by AG Vulcan Stettin. She was 120 meters long and mostly remained in the use of Emperor Wilhelm II who spent almost four entire years aboard this yacht. She was put out of service in Kiel at the end of July, 1914. In 1918 she was owned by the Weimar Republic and was scrapped in Wilhelmshaven in 1923. A picture of the Imperial yacht SMY Hohenzollern II  appeared on the commemorative yacht issue of the German postal stamps.


Depending upon their usage, yachts vary in their sizes, designs, and amenities. A day cruiser yacht has no cabin and meager amenities; weekend yachts have one or two cabins with some basic paraphernalia, and sport fishing yachts are purposefully made. The imperial yachts are no less than a part of royal palaces. The sinking of the prize-winning 60-meter Camper and Nicholson’s boat, a super luxury yacht, has raised concerns about the safety of yachts suggesting that even the most luxurious yachts may not be necessarily the safest yachts too.

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