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Dropping Anchor: 2023 Top Yacht Trends and Locations

Inspired by the world’s largest boat show, we look at the hottest luxury yacht trends and locales around the globe

The yachting set descends on Miami for the Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show this week (Feb. 15–19).

Billed as the world’s largest boat and yacht event, it always showcases the latest in all things nautical, from marine accessories and new technologies to all manner of seafaring craft: kayaks and paddleboards and mini-subs and very shiny new powerboats, sailboats, cruisers, and superyachts.

This year, the show expands into six venues for the first time, with 100,000 souls expected to view (and covet) more than 1,000 vessels. The largest is Ahpo, a 115 m (377 ft), $355 million “gigayacht” by master German shipbuilder Lürssen Yachts.  

This is a hot market, where the ever-changing consumer demands what’s faster, sleeker, tech-savvier—and eco-conscious. How will the luxury yachting industry meet these demands in 2023? Here are three trends the industry experts predict.  

1. Sustainability

The industry will launch a number of eco-conscious vessels this year, when there already are 250 all-electric or hybrid-engined yachts in operation or under construction.

The superyachts on show at the Miami Boat Show hint at the future. The next-wave yacht embraces everything from “green” fuels and advanced propulsion systems to exotic new hull coatings, sustainable shipbuilding materials, and leading-edge lithium-ion battery systems, all to reduce the carbon footprint.

Solar and wind turbine systems are on the horizon, as is the “smart” yacht, combining digital and wireless technologies in navigation and safety systems—and high-definition internet anywhere on the high seas!  

Artefact, an 80 m (262 ft) hybrid diesel-electric superyacht built in 2021, was one of the first pleasure vessels to meet IMO Tier III emissions regulations, a set of international standards to reduce emissions from ships.

Artefact’s solar panels and lithium-ion battery system let her operate for a limited time without internal combustion engines, minimizing noise and vibration, while bow thrusters and the custom, six-blade propellor system let her hold position without dropping anchor, protecting the sea floor. The wastewater system filters and recycles water for re-use in technical systems. 

2. Experiential Yachting  

Yacht designs are evolving to suit owners’ changing desires. Italian boat-builder Azimut’s Grande Trideck flagship might be on everyone’s 2023 wishlist.

The 38 m (125 ft) superyacht’s revolutionary design reimagines life on board with its “Trideck Plus One” arrangement: three decks cascading down to a fourth deck on the transom, putting voyagers in closer contact with the sea. Three upper decks include the sea-view terrace, dining terrace, and top deck with a sun terrace, Jacuzzi, American-style cocktail bar, and primary suite with private wellness center.  

Another yacht redefining the live-aboard experience is Kenshō, by Italian shipyard Admiral Yachts—winner of “Best Interior Design, Motor Yachts 500 GT and Above” at the 2023 Boat International Design & Innovation Awards.

The “newest, and boldest addition to last year’s charter market,” the 75 m (247 ft) megayacht’s disruptive design provides high deckheads and minimal side decks to maximize her Asian-inspired interior volumes and frame the sea views. Diesel-electric propulsion optimizes fuel consumption whatever the speed, and reduces emissions. Y.CO offers Kenshō for charter starting from €850,000 per week.  

3. Exploration 

A growing number of yacht owners and well-heeled travelers seek their adventures in distant waters. Hence the rise of the expedition/exploration yacht.

Luxury travel agents Pelorus and Eyos report more clients investing in sea voyages to faraway places like Antarctica or the Solomon Islands. Another company leading off-grid expeditions is London-based Berkeley Rand, which designs and engineers superyacht explorations with cutting-edge technology and logistics.  

These are no ordinary yachts: Explorers are big, tough vessels with extended cruising ranges and rugged steel hulls to hazard the most demanding seas—with plenty of room for big-ticket water toys, helipads, dive rooms, and submersibles.

In 2023, the Global Order Book shows that expedition yachts are the second-most popular vessel under construction. Hong Kong-based Cheoy Lee Yachts’ Explorer Series is a steel-hulled vessel capable of venturing almost anywhere, even polar regions.

Another explorer set for delivery this year is Lürssen’s Project Icecap, a 107 m (351 ft) steel and aluminum superyacht by Norwegian studio Salt Ship Design. Her full-displacement hull lets the vessel cut through the water with very little propulsion. The aft deck serves as a helipad and pool terrace. 

Those looking for adventure a little closer to civilization, might want to drop anchor in one of these ports of call—or to dock and lock that yacht.    

Popular Yachting Locations

1. Miami and the Florida Keys 

Miami Beach, Florida
The “Pleasure Boat Capital of the World,” Florida’s easily navigable waters, mangrove bays, and deep channels are a mecca for leisure cruising, sailing, and sport fishing.

With its sub-tropical climate and miles and miles of coastline, Florida is a premier destination for the megayacht, the superboat, or the day sailer. The Sunshine State also has favorable tax rates and a vast inventory of waterfront properties with deepwater dockage. 

Biscayne Bay is the locus of Miami’s boating scene. It’s home to PortMiami (the world’s largest cruise ship port) and several marinas that can accommodate vessels up to 335 m (1,000 ft).

The bay leads into the Intracoastal Waterway, an inland channel to the nautical meccas of Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, and beyond.  

Just south of Biscayne Bay, the coral cay archipelago, the Florida Keys arc south-southwest, all the way to Loggerhead Key in the remote Dry Tortugas chain in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cruising in the Keys can mean a leisurely and scenic sail through the shallow interconnected basins of Florida Bay or a more adventurous trip out on the open waters of the Atlantic. 

But it’s not all plain sailing. Seafarers can drop anchor in a coral cove to swim, snorkel, or fish, or moor in Islamorada, the “Sportfishing Capital of the World.”

Of course, a trip to the Keys is not complete without a visit to continental America’s southernmost city, Key West, otherwise known as the Conch Republic—a place described as “close to perfect and far from normal.” 

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2. The Dalmatian and Montenegrin Coasts

Seaside coast of Croatia
The “Land of a Thousand Islands,” Croatia’s beautiful Dalmatian Coast is the third-longest in the Mediterranean (after Greece and Italy). It runs just 327 miles as the crow flies, but with its 1,100 islands, islets, and bays, the total is more than tenfold that at 3,626 miles.

The eastern Adriatic has become a prominent destination for sailors and the superyacht crowd. Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is the main event, fringed by more than a thousand islands and islets.

There are plenty of safe harbors to dock or moor for a night or two. Popular destinations include Trogir, Cavtat, Zadaar, Korcula Island, and the medieval seaports of Split and Dubrovnik, immortalized as the capital of Westeros, King’s Landing, in HBO’s blockbuster series Game of Thrones.  

Just down the coast is Montenegro. Sandwiched between Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Albania, this tiny Balkan nation has emerged as a travel destination since gaining its independence from Serbia in 2006. 

In 2022, the former Bijela Shipyard, located in the beautiful Bay of Kotor, officially reopened as Adriatic42, the largest superyacht refit facility in the Southern Adriatic. Another spot to dock the yacht along the country’s 186-mile coastline is Dukley Marina on the Budva Riviera—“the Montenegrin Miami.” 

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3. Newport, Rhode Island 

Newport, Rhode Island
The historic city of Newport, Rhode Island, is one of the world’s most celebrated nautical communities and former host city of the Americas Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race. The Ocean Race 2022-23, sailing's greatest round-the-world challenge, will make its only North American stopover in Newport Harbor on May 13–21.

On August 2, 1844, three days after the New York Yacht Club in Midtown Manhattan opened its doors, the founders’ eight yachts got underway from the Battery bound for Newport, Rhode Island, on the club’s maiden summer cruise.   

The town was already established as a summer refuge for the well-heeled. During the 19th century’s Gilded Age, Newport’s open, oceanfront landscape, bypassed by industrialization, became a fashionable summer enclave. 

The original Newport “cottages,” such as The Breakers, a seaside mansion built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in the late 1890s, and Beechwood, the summer home of “The Mrs. Astor” remain beautifully preserved.  

Today’s Newport has more yacht dockage than Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, and Montauk.

Seafarers can take in views of Rhode Island’s rugged, rocky coastline, the Claiborne Pell suspension bridge, and Newport Harbor Lighthouse from the bay and then dock at the exclusive Forty 1° North marina for a full suite of luxury services.

Over the last few years, it’s become a draw for superyachts. Safe Harbor Shipyard, “New England’s yachting hub,” is a full-service marina and shipyard which boasts more than 3,500 linear feet of dock space that can accommodate yachts up to 90 m (300 ft), three Marine Travelifts (including a 500-ton lift), and many marine trades and provisioning options. 

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