The biggest, sexiest, most opulent yachts in the world stretch hundreds of feet long, and they keep getting longer as the world’s wealthiest men engage in maritime one-upmanship. This is what happens when high rollers take to the high seas.
Say hello to the new top sea dog. When a team of tugboats pulled this 590-foot long monster out of its shipyard in July 2013, it assumed the title of longest mega-yacht in the world. The Azzam took three years to build and cost $605 million. Who could afford such extravagance? Khalifa Al Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates. With a family fortune in the neighborhood of $150 billion, the Azzam qualifies as a reasonable expense.
Azzam can travel 30 knots thanks to 94,000 horsepower pushing this beast. According to superyachtfan.com, “She is rumored to feature a bulletproof master suite and a missile defense system.” So don’t even think about it.
When the Azzam took the title of world’s longest yacht, it eclipsed the Eclipse. The previous record-holder was this 553-foot yacht, the property of Russian oil magnate Roman Abramovich, best known to Westerners as the owner of the Chelsea Football Club in England. Eclipse has a movie theater, a discotheque, a couple of swimming pools—oh, and a mini-submarine that can dive to 150 feet below sea level.
White and serene on the exterior, the Dubai has an interior that is a glitzy, color-soaked wall of “wow.” The yacht’s aesthetic heart is its magnificent circular staircase made of glass, with steps that change color. Circular too is the flaming red couch that anchors the social area. The third-largest yacht in the world, Dubai has seven decks and carries two tenders (the smaller ships used for transporting people off the yacht). Dubai also features seven decks of sunbathing areas, so even if the yacht is carrying its maximum capacity of people, there’s no worry about some shirtless guy invading your personal space.
The coolest thing about this speedy, glass-covered yacht: It’s built on the bones of the old Royal Dutch Navy frigate HNLMS Piet Hein, initially constructed in 1978 and then sold to the United Arab Emirates Navy. Because of its narrow, military design, the 463-foot luxury machine can make a cracking top speed of 26 knots. It’s owner is Hamdan bin Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, another member of the United Arab Emirates ruling class. Coolest feature: The sweeping curved wall of glass around the front of the upper decks, which darkens for privacy when an electrical current runs through it.
One of the 10 longest yachts in the world up until this year, Rising Sun is lathered in luxury. It’s got Jacuzzis, a wine cellar, a gym with spa and sauna, chromium-lined hawseholes (small holes in the side of the ship), and a basketball court that can double as a helipad. We hope no helos land during your game of H.O.R.S.E with entertainment magnate David Geffen, the owner of this yacht.
SAIL YACHT SEA CLOUD
Most of the mightiest yachts in the world are hulking feats of high technology. How dull. Get a taste of history and class by booking your around-the-world voyage aboard the Sea Cloud, a sprawling windjammer right out of 1931. With teak wood benches, marble fireplaces, and golden taps, the Sea Cloud goes all out to retain the charm of a long-gone era. If you’re the kind who wants to get married on the water, this is the yacht you want.
Outfitted with a disco, a gazebo reception area, its own hospital, a dozen staterooms, and watery toys including water skis and powerboats, the Alexander has been the property of the well-to-do Latsis family of Greece. But the Alexander is now up for sale, according to Superyachts.com. So this could be yours for the low, low price of don’t even bother asking ($47 million, give or take a few thousand.)
MOTOR YACHT A
Its moniker is boring. Its look is anything but. Named for its original owners, Russian businessman Andrey Melnichenko and his wife Aleksandra, Motor Yacht A looks like a stealth fighter on the high seas. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Numerous companies involved in its construction went bankrupt, done in by the novelty of the project and the level of customization required.”
Such as? A has a bomb-proof master suite accessible by a spiral staircase featuring a $60,000 banister. Some rooms feature floor-to-ceiling mirrors; others have their walls lined with the hide of white sting ray or with calf leather. And designer Philippe Starck reportedly outfitted the yacht with a “nookie room” for when the Melnichenkos want a little private time.
Marilyn Monroe. John F. Kennedy. Frank Sinatra. John Wayne. Princess Grace. The royalty of the 1950s all lived the high life aboard Aristotle Onassis’ luxury yacht, which began its life as a surplus WWII Canadian frigate and is named for his daughter. Onassis even married Jacqueline Kennedy onboard. Soaked in luxurious history, the Christina O still sails, and remains in the top 30 longest yachts in the world. With the means, you could charter one of the most important society vessels of the 20th century.
At 459 feet long, the Italian-built Victory will become the newest entrant on the mega-yacht top 10 list (at number 9) when it sets sail later this year. While not much is known about the yacht at present—including who owns it—Victory is rumored to have six (!) pools and seven decks. Don’t forget your swim trunks when the mysterious billionaire owner inevitably invites you to his birthday party.
Andrew Moseman is the Online Editor of Popular Mechanics. His work has appeared in Esquire, Discover, The Awl, Mental_Floss, and the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine.