Each year, international superyacht builders—from the Netherlands to the United Arab Emirates, Italy, the United States, Greece, and the United Kingdom, to name just a few— launch and deliver new, and larger, yachts to owners around the globe. Some yards, such as the Germany-based Lürssen, complete more than their share of the largest yachts. Of the top 20 featured here, the company has built nine, and it now owns Blohm + Voss as well. The below list changes a little every year, but some of these vessels have remained in the top 20 for years. Here are the top 20 largest yachts in the world to date.
1: Azzam (180.6 metres), Lürssen Yachts
It’s not surprising that the world’s longest yacht came from a builder with nine out of the 20 top builds in the superyacht arena. Unfortunately, Lürssen could never really boast about Azzam after its launch in 2013 because of the owner’s penchant for privacy. Mubarak Saad al Ahbabi directed a team of designers and engineers who started with the bare concept, worked through the technical challenges of what might be the most complex superyacht ever, and finished with an unusually large vessel that can top the 30-knot mark. Nauta Design’s exterior features a long, sleek forward area, with well-proportioned tiers moving up to the skydeck. Lürssen describes the interior by Christophe Leoni as “sophisticated, with luxurious decor inspired by the Empire style of the early 19th century,” but is otherwise short on details. Its gas turbines connected to water jets push Azzam to more than 30 knots, giving it the ability to operate at high speed in shallow waters.
2: Eclipse (162.5 metres), Blohm + Voss
Stately Eclipse, the 162.5 metres yacht delivered to billionaire Roman Abramovich, took five years to design and build. When it left the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg in 2010, it was the world’s largest yacht. The interior has 17 staterooms and a palatial master suite, with the capacity to carry 85 crew. The Terence Disdale exterior has a proportional profile, with tiered decks that sweep upward and bend ever so slightly at the aft ends. Eclipse has a 56-metre-long owner’s deck and, at the time of its launch, the largest swimming pool on any superyacht (the bottom raises and converts to a dance floor). Other features reflecting its stature: the capacity to hold three helicopters, including one in its belowdecks hangar, a sophisticated stabilisation system, and an enormous spa, gym, and beach club. Hybrid diesel-electric engines are connected to Azipod drives that give Eclipse a top-end speed of 21 knots, with a range of 6000 nautical miles.
3: Dubai (162 metres), Platinum Yachts
This Andrew Winch design was originally commissioned for Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei as a joint project between Blohm + Voss and Lürssen, before it was halted in 1998 with just a bare hull and skeletal superstructure. The hull was sold to the government of Dubai, and, under the direction of the country’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, work on the 162-metre boat began again, though this time by Platinum Yachts. Dubai is now the sheikh’s royal yacht, with accommodations for 24 guests and quarters for 88 crew. It has an impressive 21.5-metre-wide atrium, landing pad for a Black Hawk helicopter, submarine garage, disco, and cinema. Full certification was obtained from Lloyd’s Register in October 2006.
4: Dilbar (156 metres), Lürssen
The 2016 launch of Dilbar gave Lürssen the distinction of not only building the longest yacht ever (Azzam), but also the largest in terms of volume. Espen Øino did the exterior, creating a full-bodied superstructure of long, flowing decks, along with two helicopter pads. Dilbar also has an 25-metre swimming pool that, according to Lürssen, is the world’s longest on a yacht. The interior by Winch Design is defined by its “rare and exclusive luxury materials,” says the builder, declining to go into detail. Lürssen added that the world’s largest motor yacht was one of the most complex and challenging yachts ever built, because of its dimensions and technology. Despite Dilbar’s volume, the designers did a masterful job making the yacht look relatively svelte, with no obvious bulges along the length of the hull.
5: Al Saïd (155 metres), Lürssen
Another 150-metre-plus yacht from Lürssen, the original Project Sunflower gained its official name of Al Saïd following its launch in 2016. Espen Øino’s exterior is almost like a classic cruise liner, complete with the twin exhaust stacks in the center of the superstructure. Owned by the Sultan of Oman, Al Saïd can carry 150 crew and, according to some sources, 65 guests. Lürssen says Al Saïd has a top speed of 22 knots. The London-based Redman Whiteley Dixon studio designed the interior, which includes a concert hall that can hold a 50-person orchestra.
6: Topaz (147.2 metres), Lürssen
Very little is known about Topaz, which was launched by Lürssen in 2012, other than it is the third-largest yacht ever built by the German shipyard. Tim Heywood Designs did the exterior, which features helipads on the foredeck and amidships on an upper deck. A lower aft deck includes a swimming pool. The German yard has not released any images of the Terence Disdale interior. Topaz has a top speed of 19.5 knots.
7: Prince Abdulaziz (147 metres), Helsingør Værft
This custom yacht, launched by Helsingør Værft in Denmark in 1984, was most recently refitted in 2005. It is one of the royal yachts of the Saudi Royal family, its first owner being King Fahd. Designed by Maierform, the yacht was the longest and tallest in the world at the time of its launch. Prince Abdulaziz held the title for 22 years until Dubai launched in 2006. David Nightingale Hicks, known for his use of bright colours, was the interior designer. The lobby is said to be a replica of the Titanic. It is rumored to be carrying surface-to-air missiles, though that may be an urban legend.
8: El Mahrousa (145.7 metres), Samuda Brothers
El Mahrousa, which means “the protected” in Arabic, is currently Egypt’s presidential yacht, though the 145-metre boat has a separate history as that country’s royal yacht. The London-based Samuda Brothers began the build in 1863, and it was launched in 1865. It was originally built for the Ottoman governor of Egypt, Khedive Ismail, and later carried three Egyptian kings into exile. The yacht was also at the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. The world’s oldest superyacht has had multiple modifications over the years, including a lengthening by another 12 metres in 1872 and another 5 metres in 1905. During the second refit, the owners replaced its paddle-wheel engines with turbine-driven propellers. The yacht, in care of the Egyptian Navy, occasionally goes to sea for a day or two. In 2015, it was used to inaugurate the new Suez Canal.
9: A (142.8 metres), Nobiskrug
The futuristic look of sailing yacht A includes smooth, silver-metallic surfaces and windows that look nearly invisible, three composite masts that bend slightly, and a deck hidden by high bulwarks. The Philippe Starck design is a wild fantasy yacht of the future. The 142-metre sailing yacht is a technical victory for German yard Nobiskrug, which developed composite fashion plates to create the unusual shapes, without any compromises in strength or fluidity. It has the tallest freestanding composite masts on any sailing vessel. The boat also reportedly has an underwater viewing platform in the keel. “Sailing yacht A is undoubtedly one of the most visionary projects Nobiskrug has ever been involved in,” says Holger Kahl, the firm’s managing director. Starck’s interior remains a secret. The yard reports the yacht has a top speed of 21 knots.
10: Yas (141 metres), Abu Dhabi Mar
As a converted yacht, Yas is one of the most interesting vessels on this list. The dolphin-like exterior was originally a former Dutch Navy frigate that launched in 1978 and eventually sold to the navy of the United Arab Emirates, where it was renamed Al Emirat. The yacht underwent its dramatic conversion in a facility in Abu Dhabi’s main port, emerging as a gleaming superyacht in 2011, with one of the most interesting profiles on the water. It was eventually delivered four years later. The design by the Paris-based Pierrejean Vision, defined by massive glass surfaces, can accommodate 60 guests and 58 crew members. Mated to a steel hull, the superstructure is the largest composite edifice ever built. Yas is capable of a 26-knot top speed.
11: Ocean Victory (140 metres), Fincantieri
The largest motor yacht ever built in Italy, Fincantieri’s Ocean Victory was delivered to its owner in 2014. The seven-deck exterior by Espen Øino includes two helideck platforms and a hangar belowdecks, as well as exceptional outdoor social areas. Ocean Victory has accommodations for 28 guests as well as quarters for 56 crew. Ocean Victory also has six pools, a 306-square-metre spa, and an underwater observation room. The interior by Alberto Pinto remains a secret.
12: Al Salamah (139.3 metres), Lürssen
When Lürssen launched Al Salamah in 1999, it was the third-largest yacht in the world. Its ranking at number 12 shows how much has changed in the last 20 years. Code-named MIPOS, or Mission Possible, the yacht was designed by Terence Disdale. The large imposing exterior is primarily protected space, with an upper deck exposed to the elements. Al Salamah has staterooms for 40 guests, including two owner suites, 11 VIP staterooms, and eight twin cabins. The yacht can carry up to 94 crew and has a top speed of 21 knots. Al Salamah underwent a refit by Lürssen in 2007.
13: Rising Sun (138.4 metres), Lürssen
Designed by the original guru of yacht designers, Jon Bannenberg, Rising Sun was built by Lürssen for Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. The yacht was delivered in 2004 and last refitted in 2011. Defined by banks of windows across the superstructure, Rising Sun has 8000 square metres of living space in 82 rooms. It can accommodate 18 guests in nine cabins, with the capacity to carry up to 46 crew. The interior by Laura Seccombe includes a gym, cinema, and wine cellar. The rear cockpit deck was designed as a basketball court.
14: Crescent (135.5 metres), Lürssen
Espen Øino’s dark hull and tiered superstructure was one of the most exciting launches of 2018. Project Thunder, as it was called internally at Lürssen, features cutouts along the hull sides that allow full ocean views from the saloon on the primary deck, as part of Crescent’s distinctive curved superstructure. Its most noteworthy feature is the jaw-dropping bank of three-deck-high windows in the center of the yacht. This architectural feature serves as the centerpiece of a very compelling design. The yacht has accommodations for 18 guests in nine staterooms. Little is known about the interior, though if it lives up to Crescent’s brash exterior, the complete yacht promises to be an entirely groundbreaking design.
15: Serene (134 metres), Fincantieri
Serene was Fincantieri’s launch into the superyacht segment, and what a debut it was. The largest yacht ever launched in Italy when it was delivered in 2011 (surpassed three years later by Ocean Victory), the Espen Øino design features a long, sleek blue hull, crowned by a white superstructure on three upper decks. The somewhat racy curves serve as a nice counterpart to the more serious-looking sections of the yacht, which include cutouts along the main and upper decks to allow strong visibility from the saloon and staterooms. The curved balconies on three levels are a nice touch that work aesthetically—and practically for better views. The open stern area has a winter garden (enclosed glass house) that allows dining in all seasons. Serene also has two helipads and a hangar, a big swimming pool, and a tender garage large enough for a submarine. Pascale Reymond of Reymond Langton Design did the interior for the Russian owner, though its details have remained closely guarded.
16: Al Mirqab (133.2 metres), Kusch Yachts
Launched in 2008, Al Mirqab was built for Qatar’s former prime minister under the supervision of Kusch Yachts in the Peters Werft shipyard in Wewelsfleth, Germany. The Tim Heywood exterior includes a long, navy-blue hull with a white superstructure. The yacht’s diesel-electric propulsion involves an azimuth pod drive and gives the 133-metre boat a top end of 21 knots. Its interior by Andrew Winch won several awards, with images showing Arabic-influenced motifs on the marble floors of large social areas. The yacht’s centerpiece is a stunning, complicated floating staircase encircled by custom-made glass panels. Al Mirqab has staterooms for 36, and crew quarters for 45.
17: Octopus (126.2 metres), Lürssen
Originally built by Lürssen for Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, Octopus is the world’s largest expedition yacht. Allen kept all the luxurious features of a superyacht, but wanted Octopus to be able to set anchor at the ends of the earth for exploration. The Lürssen, delivered in 2003, has two helicopter pads and an internal dock that extends through the hull, holding two submarines and a 18-metre tender. The yacht has been involved in multiple exploration discoveries, including a Japanese battleship and the bell from HMS Hood, a World War II battlecruiser. Espen Øino drew the exterior, while Jonathan Quinn Barnett did the interior. The yacht underwent a refit in 2008. It reaches a top end of 20 knots.
18: Maryah (125 metres), Neorion
This former Russian research vessel was originally launched by the Szczecinska yard in Poland. In 2010, it underwent a five-year rebuild at the Elefsis yard in Greece. The stodgy research vessel that went in came out as a thoroughly modern superyacht. The UK-based H2 Yacht Design did both the interior and exterior, incorporating all the luxuries one would expect in a yacht its size. The swimming pool, spa, contemporary decor (including custom furniture, signature joinery, and bespoke details like fixtures and lighting), and generous interior space turned the ugly duckling into a swan. Maryah, which reaches a top end of 18 knots, has accommodations for 54 guests.
19: Katara (124.4 metres), Lürssen
Launched in 2010, Katara has an exterior by Espen Øino and features a large helipad on the stern area and an open foredeck area. The other decks offer some exposure to the sun, but most are protected. There are few details about the interior by the late Alberto Pinto. The yacht’s owner is reported to be the Emir of Qatar.
20: Savarona (124.3 metres), Blohm + Voss
Launched in 1931, Savarona was built for American heiress Emily Roebling Cadwallader. The yacht was eventually acquired by Turkey to be the presidential yacht of Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey. Jane’s Fighting Ships described the yacht in 1949 as “probably the most sumptuously fitted yacht afloat.” Savaronawas later converted to a training ship for the Turkish Navy and, in 1978, destroyed by fire. The yacht laid in tatters for 10 years. A Turkish businessman spent about £34.6 million refurbishing Savarona, commissioning Donald Starkey for the interior and replacing the original steam-turbine engines with modern Caterpillar diesels. The yacht’s interior was refitted again in 2013, once again becoming the official presidential yacht in 2014. Savarona features a swimming pool, Turkish bath, 85-metre grand staircase, a movie theater, and a library dedicated to Atatürk.
Top photo: Lürssen Azzam docked at Lürssen’s Bremen Aumund Shipyard.