Orient Express Enters the Cruise Business, Announces First Two Cruise Ships

140 years after the launch of its first luxury trains, the Orient Express legend continues with the unveiling of the world’s largest sailing ship, Orient Express Silenseas. This new undertaking is the result of a partnership between hospitality world leader Accor and Chantiers de l’Atlantique, a global leader in shipbuilding.

Accor has signed a letter of intent to order two ships from Chantiers de l’Atlantique. The first sailing yacht is expected to debut in 2026. Orient Express Silenseas will be 220 meters long and feature 54 suites that are an average of 753 square feet each, including a massive 15,000+ square foot Presidential Suite (including a 5,000+ square foot balcony). The ship will also include two swimming pools, two restaurants, and a speakeasy bar.

orient express silenseas
(Rendering courtesy of Accor)

Orient Express Silenseas will feature shows in its Amphitheatre-Cabaret and the ship will also include a private recording studio. Spa treatments and meditation sessions will also be on offer.

“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,” said 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.”

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Capitalizing on the experience of experts in ocean racing, the ship will sail with a technological design known as ‘SolidSail:’ three rigid sails with a surface area of 1,500 meter each will be hoisted on a balestron rig, with three tilted masts reaching over 100 meters high. This will be able to provide up to 100 percent of the propulsion the ship needs in suitable weather conditions.

orient express silenseas
(Rendering courtesy of Accor)

The hybrid propulsion formula will combine wind power with a state-of-the-art engine running on liquefied natural gas, and there are also 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. Hetland Maritime also assisted Accor in creating the project. The entire endeavor will be financed up to 70 to 80 percent by commercial banks, with the remainder provided by Accor and a majority equity partner.

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