The world’s largest yachts (aka superyachts or megayachts, see the difference below) represent more than just opulence, luxury and riches; although it takes a heavy helping of all three to breathe life into these massive top yachts. These vessels are feats of design and engineering, which is why there are only a handful of shipyards, naval architects and designers around the world that are up to the challenge.
Pushing the boundaries of possibilities when it comes to how these amazing superyachts are put together designers, shipbuilders and yacht owners are starting to look at the bigger picture. No longer just about lavishness and comfort for the rich and famous, the latest generation of the world’s largest yachts are also being built with the environment in mind.
We’ll start with the current top power mega yachts in the world and then take a look at the top sailing superyachts (or jump to the full comparison chart below).
LARGEST MOTOR YACHTS IN THE WORLD
- REV – 600 FT. (182.9M)
- Azzam – 590 FT. (180M)
- Eclipse – 534 FT. (163M)
- Dubai – 531 FT. (162M)
- Dilbar – 512 FT. (156M)
- Al Said – 509 FT. (155M)
- Topaz – 484 FT. (148M)
- Prince Abdul Aziz – 482 FT. (147M)
- El Mahroussa – 478 FT. (146M)
First, let’s take a look at the new king – now the largest motor yacht in the world:
1. REV – 600 FT. (182.9M)
Launched in August 2019 this new giga yacht has upped the ante. Not only is REV now the world’s largest yacht, eking out the competition by just 2.9 meters, it is also cutting edge when it comes to design and specifications. A collaboration of Espen Øino and the projects Norwegian owner Kjell Inge Røkke REV adheres to the highest standards for fuel efficiency, pollution and environmental impact. With a heat recovery system, high tech incinerators, sound and vibration reduction, diesel electric engines and a ballast water treatment system the yacht plans to comply with the IMO Polar Code, which requires vessels to be able to operate autonomously for 114 days in Artic/Antarctic conditions. Designed as both a research ship and luxury expedition vessel it has an amazing 21,120 nautical mile range when cruising at a comfortable 11kts. Although REV was launched from the VARD shipyard in Romania there is still an estimated 8 months to be carried out in their facilities in Norway before the vessel is ready for passengers.
2. Azzam – 597 FT. (182M)
Launched in 2013 by Lürssen Yachts in Holland, Azzam was the reigning queen in the giga yacht game until recently. Built for the Sheikh of the United Arab Emirates this privately-owned vessel has been closely guarded. Few details about the interior are known for sure other than it was the creation of French designer Christophe Leoni. Rumoured to cost in excess of $600 million it took only four years from start to finish. Described as “one of the most challenging yachts ever built,” this sleek and well-proportioned vessel has recorded top speeds of 31.5kts, thanks to the gas turbine engines that pump out 94,000 horsepower.
3. Eclipse – 534 FT. (163M)
Built in Hamburg, Germany by Blohm & Voss shipyards Eclipse was splashed in 2010 and delivered to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. There are 17 staterooms onboard as well as a spa, gym and beach club, not to mention state-of-art electronics and a crew of 70 to tend to every wish and demand. Seemingly designed to incorporate as much luxury and amenities as possible this yacht can carry three helicopters and has a 2 huge swimming pools, one of which can convert into a dance floor. With a top speed of 21kts and a range of 6,000 nautical miles guests have plenty of options when it comes to where they would like to explore.
4. Dubai – 531 FT. (162M)
Well-traveled before it was even ready to accommodate guests Dubai started off as a joint build between the two leading boatyards in the giga yacht game; Blohm + Voss and Lürssen. When the project was abandoned in 1998 there was little but a bare hull and the bones of the super structure in place. The unfinished hull was bought by the government of Dubai and relocated. Several years later it was finally launched by Platinum Yachts. Owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, the yacht is based in the Middle East and used by the Royal family. With a helipad, a submarine garage, a disco and a movie theatre there is a little something for all of the 24 guests to enjoy.
5. Dilbar – 512 FT. (156M)
Although slightly shorter than the competition the yacht Dilbar takes the title of the World’s Biggest Yacht if you are measuring displacement, or the total volume of the vessel. Launched in 2016 by Lürssen the exterior was designed by Espen Øino (of the REV project) who has been highly praised for making this mammoth yacht look elegant and svelte. The interior was done by Winch Designs, although little has been disclosed beyond the design being decadent and luxurious, but what else would you expect from the estimated $600 million price tag? With an 82-foot swimming pool, rumoured to be the longest pool ever put on a yacht at the time, it is obvious that little expense was spared. Commissioned for the Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov she was reportedly built because he found his 110M yacht a bit too small.
6. Al Said – 509 FT. (155M)
Yet another mega build from the Lürssen yard, Al Said was launched in 2007. Originally commissioned under the moniker “Sunflower” this vessel is also an Espen Øino design, although it has more classic lines than the similarly sized Dilbar. Owned by one of the richest men in the world, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said of Oman, this boat is just one his collection. Al Said can reach speeds up to 22kts and is said to have a concert hall onboard that can seat a 50-person orchestra. Details vary about the number of guests that Al Said can sleep, although according to some sources it could be as many as 70. However, with a compliment of 150 crew you can rest assured that everyone is well cared for.
7. Topaz – 484 FT. (148M)
Typical of the world’s largest yachts, Topaz, which measures in at a whopping 484 feet, is fairly private. However, rumors circulated a few years ago that actor Leonardo di Caprio was permitted to charter her in Brazil for the World Cup.
8. Prince Abdul Aziz – 482 FT. (147M)
As astounding as it is to see 400-foot-plus yachts today, imagine what it was like in 1984. That’s when Prince Abdul Aziz was delivered. All 482 feet of her. The late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia commissioned her, cruising regularly over the years, too. Upon his death in 2005, his son Abdul Aziz bin Fahd took possession.
9. El Mahroussa – 478 FT. (146M)
El Mahroussa holds the distinction of being the oldest yacht on this list. Measuring 478 feet, she was built in 1865 for the Egyptian ruler. Back then, paddle wheels and coal powered her. She serves the Egyptian president today for state affairs. In fact, she marked the reopening of the Suez Canal in 2015.
LARGEST SAILING YACHTS IN THE WORLD
- Sailing Yacht A – 469 FT. (142.8M)
- Black Pearl – 106M
- EOS – 93M
- Athena- 90M
- Maltese Falcon – 88M
- M5 – 76M
Let’s start with the biggest sailing yacht in the world:
1. Sailing Yacht A – 469 FT. (142.8M)
Technically classified as a “sail-assisted motor yacht” it is not hard to see why this vessel is considered both innovative and controversial. Built by Nobiskrug in Keil, Germany and designed by Philippe Starck Sailing Yacht A was launched in 2017. Her large, monochromatic hull, unbroken by the usual slash of black windows, is much more motor yacht than sailing ship, but then there are the three unmistakable 100-meter unstayed carbon fibre masts. It is this radical hull design that has people loving or hating the look of A. Weighing in at over 12,000 GT this schooner has a draught of 8 meters, garages for four tenders, a submarine and a touch-and-go helipad on the bow. Five times larger than the next yacht in the sailing category this unusual boat is sure to keeping turning heads in the anchorage.
2. Black Pearl – 106M
Black Pearl is widely considered to be the real winner when talking World’s Largest Sailing Yacht. Designed to navigate under sail power alone, she is one of the most advanced sail boats in the world. Built by Oceanco shipyards in Holland, and delivered in 2018, she has a steel hull, an aluminum super structure and carbon fibre masts. She carries over 31,000 square feet of sail, which can be unfurled in under 7 minutes at the touch of a button. Although her max speed is listed as 17.5kts it is rumoured that she has reached speeds of nearly 30kts under sail. This privately-owned yacht has 6 staterooms which can accommodate 12 guests.
3. EOS – 93M
Launched in 2006 by the boatyard that features heavy in the power super yacht category, Lürssen, EOS is a 3-masted, Bermuda rigged schooner. Weighing in at 1500GT she has a beam of 13.5 meters and a draught of 5.5 meters. This graceful all aluminum vessel was designed by Langton Design Associates, while the interior was completed by the designer Françios Catroux. Offering accommodation for 16 guests and carrying a compliment of up to 21 crew few details about this vessel have been released over the years. However, it is rumoured to have been owned by clothing designer Diana von Fürstenburg and her husband Barry Diller.
4. Athena- 90M
Named after the Greek goddess of wisdom and war this record-breaking beauty is the flagship of Royal Husiman, Holland. With clean lines and a classic design, she reminiscent of large sailing ships of the early 20th century. Designed by Pieter Beeldsnijder Design in conjunction with naval architecture by Dykstra & Partners Athena is as elegant at anchor as she is underway. No slouch when it comes to speed, this 3-masted schooner carries 26, 909 square meters of sail and can reach 19kts underway. Nimble and sleek her sails can be set at the press of a button and her extensive hydraulic rigging allows for quick tacking. The interior includes rich mahogany finishes that echo the classic exterior design. With 5 guest cabins she comfortably sleeps 10 and she regularly runs with 18 crew onboard.
5. Maltese Falcon – 88M
Launched in 2006, The Maltese Falcon is no longer the world’s largest sailing yacht but she is still one of the most recognizable sail boats on the water. Best known for the iconic automated “DynaRig” square rigging design that she pioneered, her profile is certainly unique. Her three free-standing carbon fibre masts not only hold over 25,000 square feet of sail but can rotate, giving her exceptional handling and manoeuvring, allowing her to reach speeds of 25kts. Built by Perini Navi, the famous Italian shipyard, she has a steel hull and a sleek aluminum superstructure. She has 6 guest staterooms that can sleep 12 in luxurious comfort and employs 17 crew. The Maltese Falcon is often photographed taking part in super yacht sailing regattas around the world and has won several design and achievement awards over the years. She also charters regularly so you too can experience the height of comfort, innovation and luxury while sailing.
6. M5 – 76M (World’s Largest Sloop)
Although at the back of the pack of mega sailing yachts this boat has the distinction of being the worlds largest sloop. With only one mast this yacht looks like a regular sailboat on steroids. Built by Vosper Thornycraft Shipbuilder in England to a Ron Holland design she was launched in 2003 as Mirabella V. A decade later an extensive refit not only gave her a few cosmetic touch ups but extended the stern section by 3 meters. Rechristened as M5 she has a hefty maximum draught of 10.2 meters to counteract the single mast that soars to a dizzyingly 86 meters. Although she is classed as a sailing yacht there is some controversy about how well she sails and how easily she handles. Nevertheless, this huge triple spreader, single-masted boat is quite a remarkable sight whether under sail or simply swinging on the hook.
Shipyards are choosing to use more sustainable materials and practices. Designers are incorporating low-impact technologies like diesel/electric engines, heat recovery from generators to provide hot water, emission controls on exhaust and onboard waste management systems to eliminate dumping garbage in foreign ports. And mostly importantly, owners are beginning to allow their vessels to be used not just for pleasure, but also for marine research and data collection.
Superyacht. Megayacht. Gigayacht.
When it comes to the world’s largest yachts there seems to be some confusion as to what they are called. Often used interchangeably the terms superyacht, megayacht and gigayacht are actually a way to classify these luxury vessels according to length. Traditionally a “superyacht” was a vessel over 80 feet, although with so many larger vessels afloat today, they are now considered to be vessels over 100 feet. “Megayacht” is generally considered any vessel over 200 feet. Up until about a decade ago we could have stopped there. However, with shipyards pushing the boundaries when it comes to boat design and size the term “gigayacht” was coined to describe the latest generation of yachts that measure over 300 feet in length. Still, to the average boat owner, whether it is super, mega or giga these yachts are just plain HUGE!
Motor Yachts vs. Sailing Yachts
Comparing power yachts and sailing yachts is a bit like comparing cars and motorcycles. Sure, they are both motorized vehicles but that’s kind of where the similarities stop. A car is bigger, more stable on four wheels and allows the passenger to enjoy the ride without being submitted to the elements. A motorcycle, on the other hand, must consider how the wind will affect the handling of the bike, they might be more nimble but leave the rider exposed to the weather. If a luxury power boat is like a high-end SUV, then a sailing yacht is the sporty motorcycle.
One of the obvious differences between the world’s largest power yacht and the world’s largest sailing yacht is overall length. The latest power yacht launched in September 2019 is a whopping 182 meters, while the biggest sailing yacht rings in at a fraction of the length at 102 meters. However, that 182-meter power yacht can float in only 4 or 5 meters of water. The sailing yacht, on the other hand, requires at least 10 meters to avoid bouncing her lead keel along the bottom.
Although there are no restrictions, other than draught and height, between power yachts and sailing yachts both can run into the same problem when it comes to finding a place to berth. There are few marinas in the world that are able to accommodate such large vessels. This means these extravagant boats spend much of their time at anchor. In fact, other than stopping at a commercial port to refuel, it is not unusual for the world’s largest yachts to spend years away from the docks.
Whether it is a power yacht or a sailing yacht, or a little bit of both, all of these impressive vessels require highly trained and experienced crew. From the Captain, Engineers and Deck staff who take care of the exterior, to the Chefs, Purser and the Stewardess who oversee the interior, each vessel employs a small army to keep them running safe and efficiently.
Want to read about more amazing yachts? Also check out:
- The 10 Most Expensive Superyachts on YachtWorld
- The Biggest, Smallest, and Most Unusual Yachts on YachtWorld
- The Five Coolest Custom Yachts Available on YachtWorld
- Top 5 YachtWorld Incredible Interiors
- Dream Symphony: The World’s Largest Sailing Yacht
- Most Powerful Outboard Engine Ever: Seven Marine 627
* Diane M. Byrne (founder of Megacyacht News) contributed to an earlier version of this article.
** This article was last updated on January 29, 2020.