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Who Needs a Train? Orient Express Superyachts Could Be Coming to the High Seas

Accor’s luxury cruise liners could soon turn from dream to reality.

Last January, the French hospitality group announced a new Orient Express ship would debut in spring 2026. It’s now in talks with investment company Dubai Holding to fund the approximate $867 million (€800 million) development of that vessel and one other, the Financial Times reports. If the deal is successful, Dubai Holding would become the majority owner in the property company behind the yachts, allowing Accor to move the assets off its balance sheet, people familiar with the matter say.

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Several parties have been part of investment discussions, but the negotiations with Dubai Holding are reportedly at a more advanced stage. Emirati ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s aforementioned investment vehicle, which has some $35 billion worth of assets, owns the Jumeirah luxury hotel chain and last year agreed to a deal with Accor to roll out hotels in the Emirate. Nothing is set in stone, but the moves show the growing interest that Middle Eastern investors have in the luxury sector. Investment funds linked to the rulers of the UAE and Saudi Arabia have poured billions into hospitality and tourism ventures in recent years, as Gulf nations look to expand their economies beyond oil.

Orient Express Silenseas
The liner will accommodate up to 120 seafarers.

As for the Orient Express fleet itself, the two branded ships are being constructed by French shipbuilder Chantiers de l’Atlantique and are slated to hit the seas in 2026 and 2027, respectively. The first, dubbed the Orient Express Silenseas, spans 722 feet and will become the world’s largest sailing yacht upon launch, according to Accor. Silenseas is not a yacht in the traditional sense, with accommodations and amenities more akin to that of a cruise ship. The behemoth has 54 suites, for instance, as well as a speakeasy bar, two swimming pools, two restaurants, and a spa.

Silenseas will also be environmentally friendly. The vessel will be equipped with a patented SolidSail system comprising three tilting masts measuring more than 300 feet each and three rigid sails with a surface area of nearly 5,000 square feet. The sails can provide up to 100 percent of propulsion in the right conditions, but the high-tech engines will kick in if more power is required. As a result, the hybrid will produce fewer emissions than traditional diesel-powered ships and will be practically silent on the seas, hence the moniker. Tickets will cost up to $21,700 per voyage.

Accor isn’t the only big name getting into the cruise game, either. Brands such as Ritz Carlton, BelmondAman, and Four Seasons are spending millions to bring the luxury hotel experience to guests at sea with new superyachts. We love to see it.

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