Chantiers de l’Atlantique set to build world’s largest sailing vessels

Written by Nick Blenkey
sail powered cruise vessel will be built by Chantiers de l'Atlantique

With a length of 220 meters, it is claimed the Orient Express Silenseas will be the largest sailing vessel in the world — 3D rendering © Martin Darzacq [Courtesy Accor]

French hospitality giant Accor S.A. has signed a letter of intent with Chantiers de l’Atlantique covering the construction of two very large luxury sailing cruise yachts. The shipbuilder says “the order will be signed within a few weeks” and that the first ship, the Orient Express Silenseas, will be delivered in March 2026 and the second on September 1, 2027.

With a length of 220 meters, it is claimed the Orient Express Silenseas will be the largest sailing vessel in the world. It will feature 54 suites measuring on average 70-square-meters, and including a monumental 1,415 square-meter presidential suite (including a 530-square meter private terrace). Other amenities will include a marina, two swimming pools including a lap pool, two restaurants, a speakeasy bar and a cabaret bar.

The vessel will feature three of the SolidSail rigid sails developed specifically for large vessels by Chantiers de l’Atlantique. As we reported at the time, the SolidSail received Bureau Veritas Approval in Principle last year,

With a surface area of 1,500 meters each, the SolidSails will be hoisted on balestron rigs on three tilting masts reaching more than 100 meters high. They will provide up to 100% of the vessel’s propulsion power in suitable weather conditions. They are part of a hybrid power solution that will combine wind power with a state-of-the-art engine running on liquefied natural gas (LNG), with plans to use green hydrogen, once the technology is approved for ocean passenger ships.

“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 Orient Expres Silenseas,” says Laurent Castaing, managing director, Chantiers de l’Atlantique. “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 per 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. “

“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,” says Sébastien Bazin, chairman and CEO of Accor. “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.”

Accor owns the Orient Express trade mark and the Orient Express Silensea is designed as a tribute to both the legendary train and to the equally legendary liner Normandy. Built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique in the thirties, it was at that time the largest liner in the world, the most modern, the most luxurious, and also the speediest, winning the Blue Riband for the fastest transatlantic liner crossing in 1935. As for the Orient Express train, Accor is working on restoration of the original carriages with plans for a big announcement in 2025

3D rendering Orient Express Silenseas © Martin Darzacq [Courtesy Accor]
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