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Wed, 18 January 2023

Accor to Expand Legendary Orient Express Brand to Cruise Market

(18/01/23)  The legendary Orient Express brand, which has over 140 years of unrivalled luxury train travel history, has unveiled plans to head out to sea with the worlds largest sailing ship, the Orient Express Silenseas.

The result of a partnership between two leading French companies - Accor and the shipbuilding company, Chantiers de l'Atlantique - the extraordinary sailing yacht of the future is expected to set sail in 2026.

"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," said Laurent Castaing, Managing Director, Chantiers de l'Atlantique. "In addition, the installation of three SolidSail rigs, a revolutionary 1,500-sqm 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."

Orient Express Silenseas rendering by Martin Darzacq. Click to enlarge.
Orient Express Silenseas rendering by Martin Darzacq

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 those huge boats, the founder of Orient Express trains explored the luxurious travelers' 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. That journey would later inspire the 1883 launch of his now legendary train: the Orient Express.

A 220-meter-long ocean treasure with a tonnage of 22,300 UMS, Orient Express Silenseas will feature 54 suites measuring on average 70-sqm - including a 1,415-sqm Presidential Suite which will have a 530-sqm private terrace; an Amphitheatre-Cabaret; two swimming pools including a lap pool; a spa; two restaurants; a private recording studio; and a speakeasy bar.

"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 worlds most beautiful seas," said Sbastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO, 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. Innovation is at the heart of this ultra-modern ship that will revolutionize the maritime world with new technology to meet todays sustainability challenges. It is a boat designed to make dreams a reality, a showcase for the best of French savoir-faire."

Capitalizing 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.

The 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.

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.

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.

Famous for its luxury trains, the Orient Express brand's first hotels will open in 2024 - Orient Express La Minerva in Rome and Orient Express Palazzo Don Giovannelli in Venice, with a project in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia already in the pipeline.

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