What Exactly is a Luxury Yacht?

The true luxury yacht is a wonder to behold. In addition to its sheer size, it usually often comes with a swimming pool, assortment of water "toys" such as scuba gear and jet skis, and it may accommodate as many as 30 or 40 guests and 60 crew members. These elegant beauties glide through the oceans of the world carrying the rich or famous people who own them. It’s easy for the rest of us to be amazed and impressed- the average luxury yacht costs millions of dollars to purchase and could cost another few million each year just to maintain. Their crew members are seafaring pros – being paid by the month to visit some of the most unique places on this earth. Not a bad way to earn a living.

So what are mega yachts, luxury yachts, or superyachts? And what are they like, inside and out? Here are the details about what luxury yachts are, who builds them, how they typically operate, and the typical accoutrements that you can expect.

The Definition

In general, yachts that are at least 80 feet in length or larger can be considered luxury yachts. To qualify as a superyacht or megayacht, many yachting professionals say the yacht must be at least 148 feet in length, and that can still be considered small. Another key quality of luxury yachts is, of course, the element of luxury. The ship must meet specific criteria and have spacious cabins, dining room, and state room, usually equipped with state of the art sound and media systems, complete well-equipped galley, and similar features.

In short, the two factors that must be in place in order for a yacht to be classified as a luxury yacht are the right size, and the right amenities and interior features.

Top Yacht Builders

When you’re considering a job on a luxury yacht, one sure way to know whether it is a quality yacht is to find out what company built it. If one of the top five builders in the world constructed it, you can be sure it is well built, meets all safety requirements, and will cruise smoothly and efficiently wherever it is required to go. The top five builders have been in business for many years and are well known in the yachting industry. Here is more information about the builders (in no specific order).

  • Feadship Royal Dutch Shipyards: In business since 1949, this luxury yacht builder located in Holland has become known as the premier yacht builder in the world. In fact, Feadship puts so much thought and quality into its yachts it only builds five of them each year.
  • Blohm and Voss Shipyards: This company is based in Germany and has built some of the world’s largest luxury and superyachts, such as the Dubai and Eclipse. The company has been building ships since 1877.
  • Christensen Shipyards: One of the few top yacht builders located in the United States (Vancouver, Washington), Christensen has built yachts for the rich and famous, including Tiger Woods.
  • Lurssen: Lurssen, headquartered in Germany and founded as early as 1875, builds custom luxury yachts for its clientele. Over the years it has built some of the largest yachts or superyachts on the seas, including the Octopus (see the Owners and Operators section below) and the Al Said.
  • Oceanco: Oceanco is a new company by yachting standards, having been founded in 1990. It is based in Holland and offers its clients the opportunity to be part of the process from start to finish. Well-known yachts Oceanco has built include the Indian Empress and the Anastasia.

Owners and Operators

Owners of these million or multi-million dollar vessels may frequent their yacht often, while some seldom see their prized yacht more than a few times a year. Take the multi-billionaire, Paul Allen, for example. His superyacht, The Octopus, was once the largest luxury yacht in the world measuring 416 feet in length. The Octopus cost $200 million to purchase and continues to cost $20 million a year to maintain. Allen’s full time crew travels sans owner to different ports in the world to make ready when the famous "accidental billionaire" does arrive. In the meantime, the crew is forced to hang out on the basketball court, helicopters, multiple bars, spa, and submarine all on their own. Talk about a rough life!

There are three typical operation models of luxury yachts. First, the owner may be like Paul Allen, a wealthy person who keeps his yacht to himself, using it for his own personal traveling and hiring crew members to keep it staffed, maintained, and ready to travel at a moment’s notice. On the opposite extreme, there are the captains or entrepreneurs who purchase or build a yacht solely for commercial purposes. They hope to charter it, keeping it full of guests throughout the year in order to make a profit and earn a good income.

The third model is a blend of the two: owners who only sail three or four times a year or less and then make the yacht available for charter when he or she isn’t using it. Usually this owner contracts with a yacht management or charter company to arrange the charters. No matter which model is in use, it is not unusual for crew to work all year round, often with different passengers onboard each trip.

Typical Features of Luxury Yachts

This page has already mentioned some of the typical features you’ll find on a luxury yacht. From jet skis to helicopter pads and Jacuzzis, they truly live up to the word "luxury." Here is a list of some of the other standard features on many luxury or superyachts.

  • Ten to twelve cabins
  • Three decks or more above the water line, one to two decks below
  • Sauna and steam rooms
  • Beauty salon
  • Private theater
  • Medical room or clinic
  • Private sitting rooms
  • Conference room
  • Dinghies or small motor boats
  • Scuba and snorkeling gear
  • Helicopter landing pads
  • Mini submarines
  • Satellite TV
  • Gymnasium or exercise room
  • Massage room

As you can see, since luxury yachts are custom built, there can be quite a big difference in size, amenities, and equipment. This page gives you a good idea of what you can expect when searching for a job on a luxury yacht.

The next page of this yachting section provides you with all the information you need to know about working on chartered yachts – many of which are also considered luxury yachts.


Chartered Yacht Jobs