By Angela Green, Content Executive, H&C News: Orient Express to set sail in 2026.
The Orient Express legend continues with the unveiling of the world’s largest sailing ship, Orient Express Silenseas, 140 years after the launch of its first luxury trains. This revolution in maritime history is an ambitious undertaking that pushes the limits of what is possible.
The result of a unique French partnership between world leader in hospitality Accor and Chantiers de l’Atlantique, a globally leading shipbuilding company, this extraordinary sailing yacht of the future with spectacular interiors will set sail in 2026.
Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO, Accor said of the partnership: “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. 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. Innovation is at the heart of this ultra-modern ship that will revolutionize the maritime world with new technology to meet today’s sustainability challenges. It is a boat designed to make dreams a reality, a showcase for the best of French savoir-faire.”
Laurent Castaing, Managing Director, Chantiers de l’Atlantique added: “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. This concept, born in our design offices in 2018, is 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. In addition, the installation of three SolidSail rigs, a revolutionary 1,500-square-meter unit wind propulsion system, for which we have developed and tested a first prototype, will contribute significantly to the propulsion of the ship. Combined with a hybrid propulsion system running on liquefied natural gas (LNG), Silenseas will thus become the ship of reference in terms of environmentally-friendly operation and design.”
In 1867, Georges Nagelmackers boarded the transatlantic ships connecting Europe to America and set off on a journey of discovery to the United States. Fascinated by the grandeur of these huge boats, the founder of Orient Express trains explored the luxurious travellers’ suites, with their rich and sumptuous decor, adorned with exceptional marquetry. He experienced the social scene in the restaurants and the unique ambiance of the lounges, libraries and entertainment venues. This sea travel experience would later inspire the 1883 launch of his now legendary train: the Orient Express.
Inspired by the Golden Age of the French Riviera, Orient Express Silenseas will echo the glorious era when writers, artists, painters, princesses and movie stars spent time between Monte-Carlo, the beaches of Saint-Tropez, Cap d’Antibes, Cannes and its famous Croisette and discovered a refinement tinged with exquisite insouciance and joie de vivre, inviting them to extreme escapades.
A 220-meter-long ocean treasure with a tonnage of 22,300 UMS, Orient Express Silenseas will feature 54 Suites measuring on average 70-square-meters, including a monumental 1,415-square-meter Presidential Suite (including a 530-square-meter private terrace), two swimming pools including a lap pool, two restaurants and a speakeasy bar. The singular cruise ship will celebrate the Art of Travel à la Orient Express: the quintessence of luxury, absolute comfort and dreams.
A tribute to artists and culture, Orient Express Silenseas will invite guests to experience incredible shows in its Amphitheatre-Cabaret and a private recording studio will give a voice to the most beautiful melodies. This unique travel experience, guided by the winds, will feature spa treatments, meditation sessions and stopover explorations to discover cultural treasures that allow guests to completely unplug from reality and stop time.
Capitalising on the experience of these experts in ocean racing, Orient Express Silenseas will sail with a revolutionary technological design known as ‘SolidSail’: three rigid sails with a surface area of 1,500 meters each 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 hybrid propulsion formula will combine wind power with a state-of-the-art engine running on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and plans to use green hydrogen once the technology is approved for ocean passenger ships, launching a new, more environmentally friendly vision of sea travel.
The latest feat from the Chantiers de l’Atlantique is a true sailing yacht of the future combining the finest French talents. Renowned architect Maxime d’Angeac will design the interior layout and decor and Nantes-based design company Stirling Design International will handle the exterior architecture. Hetland Maritime also assisted Accor in creating the project and in the ongoing discussions with Chantiers de l’Atlantique. The entire project will be financed up to 70-80% by commercial banks, with the remainder provided by a consortium of equity partners in which Accor will have a minority stake.