Neither a ship nor a yacht: a new way of travelling

Rendering of the LeYacht project

LeYacht has studied a new way of voyaging that brings the cruising sector and the yacht sector together

Travelling by sea is part of man’s cultural baggage; the sea and boats have always been an important part of the inhabitants of coastal and other territories.
After the first years of the 20th Century, when voyaging was mostly linked to the need to go across the ocean to find fortune, with the advent of cruise ships the true voyage at sea with the idea of enjoyment and holidays slowly developed.

And so, during the past century, the biggest and most important cruising companies were created; in parallel with mass travelling on board huge and beautiful cruise ships came the voyage for the few, for an élite, on board yachts.

The pleasure yacht also sprang up after the war, when holidays became a constant element in the life of workers: it was the tourist movement and voyage for enjoyment that increased the development of yachts for pleasure, forenjoyment and unwinding”.

During the rest of the past century, through until today, the development of cruises and yachts has continued and widened moving towards the phenomenon of “giantism”: so we have the cruise ships like that of the Royal Caribbean company, which with the Oasis of the C and her sister ships have reached incredible lengths, tonnage and number of cabins to become floating cities. Yachts too have grown, becoming mega- and giga-yachts, of more than 100 or 200 m; the yacht moves up the class, beginning to be called a “pleasure ship”.

In time, methods of travel have changed and will have to change: more awareness, more attention and measure. In this scenario comes a new means of transport that is neither a yacht nor a cruise ship.

Rendering of the LeYacht project

A new means of transport

A new vision of sea voyaging is coming from the knowledgeable and creative minds of the Garroni Design naval and yacht design studio which, together with the Monaco LeYacht Cruises, has joined forces to launch a new and interesting project: “LeYacht Cruises Lab”.

pleasure ship of the future, neither too big nor too small: above all, it does not work alone but is flanked by modern floating embarking and disembarking bases, so as to make the trips lighter by stopping there to clean up the vessels and avoid crowds of people.

This study is not limited to remaining in a drawer, as a stylistic exercise, but is concrete operational research, emerging after a long analysis of a complex sector, or rather two complex sectors: ships and yachts. The aim is to guarantee maximum revenue by exploiting the commercial potential, which is strongly expanding, coming from the combination of these two categories of vessel.

Tourism in cruising and yachts
Cruise ships and yachts are by now part of our touristic culture: that of mass cruises on mega ships and the more selective one on pleasure yachts of smaller size.

The latter are by now perfected and specialised and, as a result, commercially effective. It is decidedly different in the rawer selective cruising sector, where the search for optimisation is still going on, in the hunt for a difficult balance between costs and yields.


As concerns the yacht sector, initially – from the 1990s until today – the “Luxury” class was being configured with an average size (50/60.000 di GRT, Gross Register Tonnage: a measure of volume equivalent to 100 ft³ or 2.83 m³, used as a unit for measuring the size of ships, not to be confused with metric tonnage), a capacity of about 1,000 passengers with a passenger/crew ratio of about 2:1.

Then came the Explorers, smaller and often derived from scientific research vessels, with at most a few hundred passengers; although converted for luxury sailing, they have a simpler style, with strong references to their working origins.
The passenger/crew ratio goes from 1.5:1 to 1:1. They sale exotic routes and have high costs which are tending to increase.

The latest to arrive are the “yacht-trend” classes, which derive from the Explorer category with an “Adventure” declination. Here the roots are even more extreme and the cruises more demanding because of weather uncertainties.


It is easier to speak of cruises: with the coming of airlines came the decline of Transatlantic ships and a new model of voyage and a new project were developed for the ships.
Ships in fact became cruising ships and, over the years, they have been increasingly enriched with game elements and large spaces for enjoyment on board.

Here we try to analyse the new means of transport halfway between a large ship and a large yacht, offering passengers a new kind of voyage, in line with the new world dynamics and in safety.

Luxury and services

LeYacht Cruises Lab has studied a “boats plus infrastructures” system that aims to be strongly competitive, organisationally lean and economically efficient.

The research remains within the lightest regulatory level (within 500 GRT and 24 m in length) and follows a series of precise design criteria, which bring together and harmonise the two sectors considered.

Some elements typical of large luxury cruise ships remain, such as the welcome and services on board:

  • suites from 24/27 m², cabins from 15/17 m², large public areas, choices for eating on board;
  • many and different possibilities for enjoyment;
  • constant digital and telephone connection to land networks;
  • systems and technology at top levels both the safety and for comfort in respect of the environment.
Images of the cabins Le Yacht offers its guests on board

At the same time, unique and distinctive characteristics must be guaranteed (quite unlike those of mass cruising) starting from the aesthetics: designs and shapes must transmit a sensation of luxury, must make the passengers feel part of a privileged elite; propulsion must be by sale or with hybrid and ecological propulsion, respecting the environment stay sailing.

As regards itineraries, there must be frequent stops in the most famous bays, with the chance of swimming in shallow water directly from the boat, from opening terraces in the sides of the yachts.
At the same time there will be frequent quayside moorings in the harbours of the most fashionable tourist locations, with the possibility of direct disembarking to visit restaurants and places of enjoyment that can be booked through the secretary on board.

Treatment on board must be customised, discreet and careful, not far from high-level private domestic service.

Regulations relating to ship/yachts
This new way of voyaging on board the new ship/yachts must also take account of strict and particular regulations for legal and bureaucratic reasons, and above all to guarantee voyages with the maximum all-round safety margins and the lowest pollution possible.

The international regulations are issued and constantly updated by the IMO, International Maritime Organisation, ratified by national governments and imposed by regulations issued by the maritime authorities. They start from the definition of minimum sizes, under which ships are defined boats or craft and subject to simplified rules and entrusted to the responsibility of individual national organisms.

Two regulations in particular, the EC and MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Great Britain) rules, have international importance and are recognised by other foreign states, thus facilitating commercial activities and navigation in international waters.
The basic limits for being classified as a yacht, even if for commercial use, after example the number of guests (12) and size with two further levels:

  • the first is a length of 24 m, calculated according to the EC method or British Load Line, under which the ship is registered as a yacht;
  • the second is that of 500 gross tons, equivalent to a length of about 50 m which can vary according to the volume of the ship. Above these limits the ship is fully qualified as such and must respect IMO provisions for larger vessels. The differences above all in terms of handling tables, that is the composition and qualification of crews.

The “Lodges”

Within this vision, and complementary to the vessels, are the “Lodges”, the operational bases for departure and arrival (with both the technical and hospitality function) to which the other twin ships will more in an organised sequence.

All the destinations and legs are carefully programmed and reached every day by one of the vessels, with the advantage of being able to add land services to those on board.
The system will use 6 or 12 ship-yachts (every “ships plus Lodge” module is defined a “Yacht Fleet”) depending on whether they are single or double; the routes will be brief, with a few hours of daily sailing and overnight stops in tourist ports or sheltered bays; the cruises have a fixed itinerary, lasting about a week, plus the two days spent in the Lodge.

Rendering of Le Lodge, the mooring bases for these new floating hotels

From the hospitality point of view, the Lodge will welcome the guests (with another crew) for the first night, before embarkation, and for the last night after the cruise ends.

This makes the experience even more pleasant (since generally the initial and final moments are always the most stressing). Technically, the Lodge offers all the functions that have no place on board the yacht-cruises, from suppliers of all kinds to the disposal and controlled treatment of refuse and used liquids.

Finally, the Lodge houses warehouses and equipment for programmable maintenance and cleaning, or emergencies, as well as vessels able to reach any yacht-cruiser quickly during the cruise.

After the first concept phase, this project is moving into the executive and planning phase for the budget and finance plans, to make the study even more concrete.

The Lake-Ships
Rendering of the Lake-Ship project. Note the characteristic of the vessel with a catamaran hull, 8 masts with motorised sails and the large stern paddle wheel

Not just the sea: this new voyage can be perfectly applied also to lakes.

But the tranquil short cruises on the most beautiful lakes in Europe will have new and special boats: the Lake-Ships, 300 footers, a particular catamaran with eight motorised masts and the paddle blade at the stern. They have a zero emission hybrid motor, helped by the 8 sales and are designed to house 78 guests with a crew of 38. By car it is easy to reach the departure stations in the crucial points of Europe’s most beautiful lakes. This singular catamaran is full of public spaces and those for enjoyment, just like a cruise ship.

3D diagram of a rigid sail module on a motorised mast. Lake-Ship project

Its particularity lies in the 8 automatic masts that “do everything” without human intervention, since everything on board is computerised. These sails, the hybrid motor and the large paddle blade astern recalling the river craft of the Mississippi mean the trip can be considered completely green, without using energy. The sails have several photovoltaic panels which contribute to the needs of the boat and life on board.



[All the diagrams, renderings and information come from the study Garroni Progetti (Genoa) together with the Monaco Le Yacht Cruises]