From Germany to the Netherlands, Italy, and the United States, the superyacht industry employs highly skilled craftsmen and women at shipyards around the globe. The handcrafted vessels can be seen in bodies of water from the Mediterranean to the Bahamas, providing enjoyment—and jobs—for those on board. Here we highlight the top 20 superyacht shipyards in the world.
The German name tops the list, having built 11 out of 20 of the world’s largest superyachts in the last two decades. The 145-year-old family shipyard’s largest yacht, Azzam, spans 592 feet, 6 inches. Imagine six football fields laid end to end, with dozens of staterooms and saloons filled with beautiful woodwork, custom furniture, and art, all inside a high-tech hull. That 2013 launch was followed by others like 512-foot Dilbar and this year’s 364-foot Project Tis.
Still owned and managed by the Lürssen family, the company’s ability to consistently produce so many floating masterpieces is directly proportional to its skilled workforce and vast facilities. After recent acquisitions, including the famed Blohm & Voss yard, Lürssen owns eight shipyards across Germany. Its staff, some of the most experienced of any superyacht builder, include 400 designers, 600 engineers, 1,600 skilled workers, and 200 apprentices.
After launching the company in 1875, Friedrich Lürssen declared: “My firm shall be known as a leader in both quality and performance.”
With his name attached to the world’s largest yachts, Friedrich’s words have taken on a greater significance than he could ever have imagined.
Abeking & Rasmussen
Located across the river from Lürssen’s Lemwerder yard, Abeking & Rasmussen has created advanced running surfaces, like its Swath hull that skips over turbulent ocean waves rather than pounding across. The name is known for commercial and military vessels as well as custom yachts.
Its award winners include the 237-foot Cloudbreak, which set new design standards for expedition yachts, and the 244-foot Elandess, featuring its “Nemo Lounge” with a window below the waterline. Abeking’s flagship, the 321-foot Aviva, is unique among yachts its size with an unmatched interior volume that includes a regulation-sized paddle-tennis court.
The 112-year-old yard is typically ahead of the latest trends. It is developing a hybrid fuel cell powered by methanol that emits only clean steam. The system could well be the first hydrocarbon-emissions-free propulsion in the yachting world.
Formed as a group in 1949, Feadship is probably the most famous name among the Dutch builders. Feadship is comprised of the De Vries and Van Lent family yards, with locations in Aalsmeer, Makkum, Kaag, and Amsterdam. The group also includes De Voogt Naval Architects.
Feadship, credited with dozens of custom launches over the last seven decades, has grown into Holland’s superyacht powerhouse. In the 2015, it launched 333-foot Symphony, the first Feadship to cross the 100-meter mark. Faith, a stunning 312-footer launched two years later, has a streamlined profile and helicopter pad with hangar on the foredeck and swimming pool with glass floor (forming the ceiling of the beach club below) on the aft deck.
Last year, Feadship launched a half-dozen other yachts, including 241-foot Sherpa. Its expedition-yacht exterior, including two industrial-looking exhaust stacks on the aft cockpit, shows Feadship’s design capabilities. Its Project 814, with its vertical bow and long, lean forefoot, will be an example of an entirely new look, when launched later this year.
Specializing in made-to-measure, custom-built superyachts, award-winning builder Nobiskrug produces its vessels out of three different facilities in northern Germany: Rendsburg, Kiel-Gaarden, and Kiel-Friedrichsort. The yard was established in Rendsburg in 1905, shortly after the Kiel Canal opened in 1895. Today Nobiskrug employs more than 1,000 highly skilled craftsmen and women across the three shipyards. In-house production includes hull construction, steel cutting, mechanical work, fitting, pipe fitting, paint, electrical, and carpentry, with these workshops organized under one roof.
Shown above is the brand’s Best of the Best winner A, designed by Philippe Starck and built by Nobiskrug, the yacht is a 470-foot sail-assisted motor yacht that was delivered in 2017.
Nobiskrug’s 241-foot Mogambo won Robb Report‘s Best of the Best award in 2013. Featuring both interiors and exteriors by UK-based Reymond Langton Design, Mogambo is a great example of Nobiskrug’s past projects.
Representing the future of the company, Nobiskrug’s hybrid superyacht Artefact (ex-project 790) was revealed last fall in Monaco and is scheduled for a 2019 delivery. With an exterior by Canada’s Gregory Marshall Studio and interior by Reymond Langton Design, the yacht features numerous eco-friendly characteristics, such as lower emissions and a quieter ride. It also utilizes a Dynamic Positioning System to hold its position for longer, delaying the need for sea-bed-damaging anchors.
Amels celebrated its centennial in 2018, but the superyacht builder has modern facilities and one of the industry’s smartest business plans. It was acquired by the Damen Group in 1991, which gave it the financial resources and vision to become one of the most respected custom yacht builders. Ten years ago, it launched a Limited Editions range. Built on proven hull platforms from 180 to 272 feet, owners have a choice of customizing both the interior and exteriors. Close to 40 yachts have been delivered since, proving that the disruptive concept has a place in yacht-building.
The Amels’ yard in Vlissingen has two climate-controlled bays, one 475 feet and the other 670 feet, for multiple new builds or refits. Its second yard in Vlissingen East has a climate-controlled bay, measuring 705 feet.
Used for military and commercial vessels, it has the facilities and skilled workers to handle the world’s largest custom, steel-hulled yachts. Noteworthy launches last year include 243-foot Universe, 205-foot Sea & US, and 189-foot Volpini 2.
Oceanco is a relative newcomer, but it has created some of the world’s most beautiful custom superyachts. Names like the recently launched 295-foot DAR are great examples, but the yard has also built technically advanced vessels like the 350-foot sailing superyacht, Black Pearl, with some of the most advanced sails ever designed. Its other award winners like Jubilee, Aquijo, and Infinity, retain their own unique DNA. The yard has worked with the most sought-after yacht designers, including Terence Disdale, Nuvolari-Lenard, Espen Øino, Sam Sorgiovanni, Igor Lobanov, Tim Heywood, and Andrew Winch.
The Alblasserdam yard is working on 357-foot Project Bravo, the first Oceanco with its proprietary LIFE design (lengthened, innovative, fuel-efficient, and eco-friendly). Bravo will combine hybrid propulsion, weight savings, and extra interior space in a package that could be a game-changer for yachting. “Our approach with Bravo was to maintain a stunningly sleek profile without sacrificing interior space,” says designer Dan Lenard. “The new exterior style concept is bound to create a new design stream.”
Among the Dutch builders, Heesen has seen the greatest expansion of its model line, which is available in aluminum and steel. Its recent launches range from the 164-foot futuristic hybrid, Home, to more conventional designs like the 180-foot Laurentia. The yard really started its upward trajectory in 2011 with the simultaneous launches of Quinta Essentia and Satori, two very different yachts that captivated the superyacht world.
Two years later, Galactica Star, the first fast-displacement yacht, showed that Heesen lived in a world where design and technology intersect. Its largest-ever build, 230-foot Galactica Super Nova, was a sign that Heesen can move into larger categories. The yard has drawings of an ultra-modern 83-meter custom Maximus concept, complete with an entirely open cockpit and swimming pool with waterfall, waiting for the right owner.
Benetti is not only the world’s largest superyacht builder, it is also one of the oldest. Started in 1875, the Italian builder always has a parade of custom and semicustom builds. The Azimut Benetti Group now has 97 yachts under build over 78 feet. In the last year, Benetti has launched a range of yachts, including Ironman, its sixth Fast 140, 207-foot custom Metis and 226-foot Spectre.
Benetti also recently launched its largest-ever build, 351-foot FB277, one of three gigayachts currently being built in its Livorno yard. The other two are due to launch this year. The world’s largest superyacht builder continues to push the boundaries in design and technology, as it moves into gigayacht territory that the yards in Northern Europe have dominated for years.
The 262-foot Chopi Chopi was a landmark yacht for CRN when it launched in 2013, showing that the Italian yard could go toe-to-toe with the yards in Northern Europe. Chopi Chopi is still CRN’s largest build to date, but the Ancona facility has launched a succession of custom yachts that have established CRN’s place as the crown jewel of the Ferretti Group. The military exterior of 180-foot Atlante, sleek hull of 239-foot Yalla, or stunning, high-tech interior of its most recent launch, Cloud 9, show the range of the custom builder.
CRN’s current builds include a 260-foot tri-deck motor yacht, a pair of 203-footers with low superstructures and vertical bows, and a 164-foot Superconero, a modern version of the 1970s SuperConero that defined CRN. Ferretti has invested about $10 million to upgrade the Ancona yard, with plans to invest another $15 million.
Baglietto is one of Italy’s most revered yacht names, having started in 1840 when Pieto Baglietto built small wooden fishing boats in his backyard. The company built boats for kings and popes, and put the first combustion engine into an 80-foot yacht in 1906. After being rescued from bankruptcy by the Gavio Group, a multinational corporation owned by a yacht-loving family, Baglietto has experienced a renaissance. Both its production facility, which gained a $25 million facelift, and model line, ranging from 43 to 230 feet, are now state of the art.
Francesco Paszkowski, Italy’s most revered yacht designer, does the lion’s share of design for Baglietto, but the builder recently unveiled other concepts by Milan-based Hot Lab and Santa Maria Magnolfi for its midrange superyachts. Baglietto is offering these very different designs on five proven hull platforms. Its 230-foot flagship is from Mulder Design in the Netherlands.
Rossinavi’s recent launches are some of the most inspired designs in the superyacht world. The 2017 launches, 160-foot Endeavour II and 161-foot Aurora, are as different in design as chalk and cheese. The yard worked with Achille Salvagni on both interiors. Salvagni, known for his stylized residential interiors and whimsical decor, brought a fresh sensibility to both yachts that gave them very distinct personalities.
Last year, the yard launched two more inimitable yachts, 206-foot Utopia IV and 161-foot Flying Dagger. Utopia IV is unique among superyachts because of its top end of 33 knots, with transatlantic range. Always on the lookout for new ideas, Rossinavi has unveiled concepts with Pininfarina, designer of many Ferrari models, and the Phantom 62, a sleek, futuristic design by Enrico Gobbi.
With headquarters in Ameglia and other yards in Viareggio, Massa, and La Spezia, Sanlorenzo is ranked among the top three builders of yachts over 80 feet. In the last two years it has introduced a 118-foot planing yacht, a 210-foot 64Steel (due out this year), the 171-foot custom Seven Sins—not to mention the flagship of its explorer line, the 164-foot 500EXP Ocean Dreamwalker III, which it launched at the last Monaco Yacht Show. The light-blue steel hull shows the style that Sanlorenzo gives to each new launch.
The recently introduced SL102 employs an asymmetric exterior design, with an outer walkway on just one side of the boat to increase interior volume.
The Perini name extends across a succession of groundbreaking yachts from 289-foot Maltese Falcon, which had a DynaRig sail plan that was designed from a theory, to the ultimate blue-water cruiser, the 229-foot Sybaris, through to the flagship of Monaco’s 2017 show, the 197-foot Seven.
Since a management restructuring in 2017, Perini Navi has introduced multiple new lines, including its E-volution sailing yacht series and three styles of motor yachts—Argonaut, Heritage, and Voyager. With two yards in Italy and a third in Turkey, Perini now has three sailing yachts under construction, including two 138-foot E-volutions. Its three motor achts under build include two Philippe Briand–designed 53 and 56 Voyagers, as well as its 82-foot hybrid-powered Eco-tender. The brand’s new energy promises a bright future.
When John and Robert Braithwaite started their fledgling boat business in 1969, the two brothers had no idea it would become one of the UK’s most important shipyards. Sunseeker is different from most yards on this list because it builds only in composites up to 155 feet.
Prompted by owner demand, Sunseeker is now venturing into aluminum with its new 161 Yacht. Easily recognized by Sunseeker’s exterior design cues, the 161 will be built by Icon Yachts in Holland. “We are combining the metal build expertise of ICON with our design DNA, technical expertise, and market know-how,” says Sean Robertson, president of Sunseeker USA, adding the new yacht will “absolutely” be a Sunseeker. The 161 will be launched in 2021.
Princess Yachts is the other British builder that continues to evolve in interesting, new ways. Established in Plymouth in 1965, Princess has grown into multiple modern production sites measuring more than 1.1 million square feet. Situated in a port with maritime ties that date back centuries, Princess’s South Yard, where the M Class superyachts are built, is a former 17th-century naval yard.
The Princess flagship, the 131-foot 40M Imperial Princess, seems like a larger superyacht, with large interior volume and unusual natural light. The yard also makes a 30M (98 foot LOA) and 35M (115 foot LOA).
Its most exciting launch was the R35, a 35-footer designed by Pininfarina, with a foil system that reduces drag by 30 percent. Princess plans to add the foil design to its larger yachts, an innovation that could revolutionize yachting.
Established in 1884, Royal Huisman is one of the oldest shipyards in Holland but one of its most modern. Its waterside facility in Vollenhove totals about 350,000 square feet, with four heated bays to accommodate yachts up to 266 feet. It has another facility in Amsterdam and a third in Emden, with facilities for yachts up to 394 feet. Its fleet of famous sailing superyachts include Gliss, Antares, Hyperiod, Hanuman, Elfie, and Arcadia. Its recent launches include the 190-foot Ngoni, which has one of the most eclectic interiors ever, and the more classic 184-foot Aquarius. Though best known for custom sailboats, the yard is currently working on Project Phi, a 180-foot motor yacht designed by Van Ooosannen Naval Architects.
Finnish builder Nautor’s Swan, founded in 1966 by Pekka Koskenkyla, has always had its sights on building high-performance sailing yachts with beautiful wood interiors. Koskenkyla enlisted Sparkman & Stephens, designer for many winning America’s Cup yachts, to create its first fiberglass boat. The new boats saw instant racing success.
The builder eventually partnered with German Frers Design. The Frers team, working with 30 Swan designers, is responsible for many innovative designs, including the first Swan 115 S introduced in 2015 at the Monaco show. The 115 was the flagship of the its Maxi division, which includes the Swan 98, and eventually became the Swan 120.
Nautor’s Swan expanded beyond its historical plant in Kallby in 2002, when it opened a new high-tech facility in Pietarsaari for yachts from 60 to 115 feet. Its Kronoby facility produces its famous wood interiors. The most noteworthy yard in Finland has produced 2,000 Swans since it launched operations.
Westport Yachts has been North America’s most prolific superyacht builder since it began building boats in 1969. Its facilities in Westport and Port Angeles, Washington, include enclosed spaces of 170,000 and 100,00 square feet, respectively, with a separate 80,000-square-foot cabinet shop and 4,100-square-foot upholstery shop. Westport has launched more than 140 yachts.
Westport’s success lies in its disciplined approach to yacht building, which involves a production mentality that keeps each build on time and on budget. The builder uses leading-edge machinery, proven coring materials, and components like MTU and Caterpillar engines, Northern Lights generators, and Furuno electronics that bring quality and consistency to the build process.
Its line of the W112, W125, W130 and W164 are contemporary but not ostentatious, with high levels of fit and finish across the yacht. That type of production mentality, which allows for a certain degree of customization, means the yachts are built to the same high standards.
Westport clients appreciate that level of reliability, not to mention resale value, when it comes to yacht ownership.
Delta Marine is not given much to self-promotion, but the Seattle yard shares the same type of pedigree as many of the top European builders.
Its production quality, skilled labor, and proven ability to turn intricate, complex designs into beautiful, custom superyachts has earned it a place among the world’s top builders. The yard comprises a 25-acre complex in Seattle, with 300,000 square feet of manufacturing space in its state-of-the-art facility. With Boeing headquarters just down the road, and Seattle being a leading tech center, the trickle-down influence on the shipyard is noteworthy. Its collection of custom yachts includes 216-foot Invictus, 164-foot Arianna, and 240-foot Laurel. Recently, an unnamed 204-foot launch was seen on sea trials near the yard.
The Overmarine Group’s Mangusta brand has been known for speed during its 34-year-history. The Balducci family defined their niche, though the range has expanded to maxi open yachts and long-range yachts. The line extends from 94 to 215 feet LOA, with 300 yachts produced over the years. Its Mangusta Maxi Open series, ranging from 94 to 215 feet, offers speed as well as quietness and stability, in a stylish package. Its 50M (164-footer) is considered an industry icon. The Mangusta Oceano are long-range yachts with ranges up to 5,000 miles.
The Mangusta GranSports are a combination of the two lines, fast-displacement yachts capable of covering long distances. The group has 10 production facilities in Tuscany and Viareggio, Massa, and Pisa that total around two million square feet of indoor and exterior space. It has two wharfs in Viareggio where it does the final work on its yachts. Overmarine is vertically integrated, from the initial design to making the molds, to installing the electronics. The company celebrated a milestone in December: Its Gransport El Leon (shown above) crossed the Atlantic, the first Mangusta to ever accomplish that feat.
This 25-year-old builder has design offices in Italy and a modern yard in Johannesburg, South Africa, where it builds advanced composite sailing yachts from 82 to 115 feet in length. Over the years, it has worked with renowned sailing yacht designers, Farr Yacht, Reichel/Pugh, and Nauta Design. Most launches are semi-custom projects built on proven running surfaces, giving the owner the choice to customize interior and exterior. Southern Wind’s most recent launch is SW105 Kiboko Tres, the second of its performance cruiser series. Designed for offshore sailing but with the comforts of a superyacht, Kiboko Tres passed the ultimate sea trial: 7,000 miles from Johannesburg to Italy, on its way from the shipyard to the offices in Italy.
Rare among superyacht builders, Christensen Yachts does virtually all of its work in house. The Vancouver, Washington–based yard has its own metal department for completing stainless handrails, stairways, anchor pockets, and other custom pieces, as well as a stone shop for marble, onyx, quartz, granite, and limestone used in the inlaid floors, countertops, and panels; and shops for woodworking, painting, and upholstery. Vertical integration allows the yard to deliver exceptional details for its yachts, which run up to 164 feet. Christensen’s Chasseur won top award in its category in the 2017 International Superyacht Society, in part for the intricate interior.
Located on a seven-acre marina, the shipyard has a dozen bays enclosed in 180,000 square feet of climate-controlled space.