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Super-yachts and Submarines – The Luxury Toys of the Rich and Famous

Luxury Toys

Super Yachts and Submarines

Imagine a world where you can hop on to your own private luxury yacht and be whisked away to you’re a desert island hideaway, or begin the day sailing in St. Tropez and end it rubbing shoulders on deck with the rich and famous in Cannes. For many, this is the ultimate dream, and one that will be simply that, a dream and nothing more. But for those who can afford it, the millionaires and billionaires out there, the prospect of owning your own private yacht, or indeed a super, even mega-yacht is a reality that can be had.

The ultimate in luxury living, these ‘mansions of the sea’ can range from 80 ft in length to anything up to size of a mini cruise ship. Motor or sail powered, and many, especially the high end range built with 4 or 5 decks, these yachts come with a host of special features. From indoor swimming pools, to guest cabins, studies, salons, state rooms, gyms, helicopter pads and beyond, these yachts are designed for comfort at its best. More often than not customised to meet the owner’s requirements, many are crafted and furnished in turn by the world’s most expensive and well-known designers. But, with this scope of luxury, comes a mammoth price tag. One need only look at the likes of Larry Ellison’s Rising Sun, reported to have cost US $270 million and Sheik Modammed bin Rashi al-Maktoum’s 531ft mega-yacht Dubai to see that these floating mansions are strictly in the remit of the super wealthy.

Dwarfing these yachts in scale, both price and size, by far are those earned by the Russian aristocrat Roman Abramovich, The oil magnate and owner of Chelsea Football Club, Abramovich owns only the largest and most expensive yacht in the world, the 558ft long Eclipse, but the equally impressive Pelorus. With a combined worth of 800 million to over 1.4 billion dollars, these sea going vessels are perhaps the most luxurious yachts out there. Reported to feature all the usual details one would expect of a super-yacht – state rooms, swimming pools etc., both additionally come equipped with cinemas, private gardens, a library, helicopter pads, and perhaps most remarkably of all bullet proof master suites, missile-detecting systems and anti-paparazzi lasers!

It is in the ‘subtle’ edition however, of an on-board mini-submarine that piques this articles interest. This seemingly new luxury toy of the rich is one that is fast taking off as the must have accessory. In recent months, the adventures of Academy-Award winning director, and modern day Captain Nemo, James Cameron, to the dark depths of the Marina Trench in the DeepSea Challenger vehicle, has raised the interest in private submarines. Piloting his ungainly looking, bright green, one seat sub, Cameron dived to an amazing 36,000 feet, or 11,000 metres, down to the deepest part of the ocean. Only the third person to reach these depths, Cameron led the privately funded mission.

Cameron however is not the only wealthy enthusiast out there willing to splash the cash to explore the ocean deaths. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google has given his support to the Deep Search program run by San Francisco based company DOER Marine.
Richard Branson meanwhile, through his Virgin Oceanic venture has sponsored the development of the DeepFlight Challenger, which will reach comparable depths to those reached by Cameron’s craft in only 140 minutes. Indeed Branson currently rents out to visitors to his private Caribbean isle of Necker Island, his unique Hawkes Merlin Submarine. This craft, a ‘world’s first’ holiday experience, and yours for $25,000 a week is described as being like that of an ‘underwater aircraft’. Called the Necker Nymph, the sub can accommodate a passenger either side of the pilot and descend to depths of up to 100ft (30metres). Breathing equipment is still required as it is not an enclosed vehicle, but with underwater speeds of 6knots, and dives lasting between one and two hours, the website describes the Necker Nymph as bring underwater exploration to a whole new level.

Charles Kohnen however, the co-founder of submarine builders SEAmagine, is quick to street that private submarine owners are still in the minority. With perhaps less than a dozen individuals at present, Kohnen does note that with the general trend for ever fancier toys for billionaires, especially those who own luxury yachts, this small group is likely to grow very quickly. Kohnen is quoted as having said that when SEAmagine started 16 years ago ‘yachts weren’t big enough to hold submarines. The evolution we’ve seen over the last seven years is interest from the private sector and it’s directly related to the yachts, the mega-yachts industry’.

Indeed, Bruce Jones, the CEO of Triton Submarines, another private submarine company operating out of Vero Beach, Florida has stated that in recent years ‘[their] customers {have also been} large yacht owners who want to offer their friends and family something special’. It would seem from also that the financial crisis has done little to stop this demand for mini subs. With more than 2,500 large yachts in the world today, with most capable of carry a mini-submarine, the influx of private owners is set to grow and grow.

The advancements in ocean exploration technology, and the continuing news stories concerning Cameron’s dive and the attempts by Branson and other private investors to do the same, has made the idea of owning a mini-submarine to go along ones private yacht,  no longer a thing resigned to science fiction for those who can afford the costs. With reports that a company called US Submarines has plans to offer luxury submarines, one tentatively titled the ‘Phoenix’, at a proposed price of a phenomenal $78 million; the world of the private submarine could be pushed to a whole new frontier of costs and luxury. But with interest and investment growing from the scientific and film community’s, the prices of these luxury submarines is sure to shift, be it less expensive or more out of a heightened sense of luxury, one has to wait and see?

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