Full steam ahead

After a busy year in 2021, demand for both new and pre-owned superyachts remained high in 2022, and it continues to rise in 2023 for larger superyachts, with several shipyards now building yachts that are more than 100 m in length. Indeed, the global yacht industry is expected to register a record-breaking year in 2023. Meanwhile, the market for superyachts longer than 50 m is forecast to show strong expansion over the next decade.

The global fleet over 30 m in length consisted of 5,555 superyachts in operation at the start of 2023. 85% of the global fleet consists of motor yachts, and 15% of sailing yachts.

The builders. Over the last 10 years, 290 shipyards have delivered one or more superyachts or are currently building a superyacht. A total of 26 shipyards are currently in the process of building their first superyacht. Currently, there are only 20 yards building yachts over 80 m and just 11 shipyards building yachts with a volume of more than 3,000 GT.

Refit market. There are on average over 1,450 refit yard visits per year by yachts over 30 m. US yards are the most popular refit destinations, having attracted 24% of all recorded yard visits in 2022. Italian yards handled 21% of the refit yard visits, but spread over 34 different facilities, making it the country with the most refit facilities. Spain and Italy handled the highest number of large yachts over 60 m, while the United States led in both the 30-40 m and 40-60 m category.

The Owners. Clients from the United States own the greatest share of superyachts over 40 m, at 24% of the total fleet. Russian owners come in second, with 8% of the fleet, followed by Greece and Turkey with 6% each. The United Kingdom and Italy close out the list of top owning countries with 5% each.

Demand remains strong. New and used yacht sales, though lower than in 2021, were still strong in 2022. However, moving into 2023, we see a slowdown in sales, a trend which is echoed by most industry players.
New-build sales of very large yachts dropping off. New-build sales over 80 m during 2022 have decreased in line with the overall newbuild sales market. If we exclude resales, seven new yachts over 80 m were sold in 2022, against 13 in 2021, a decline of almost 50%.

The Middle East is “the place to be” in 2023. UAE, Qatar and Oman are attracting more and more yachts. Saudi-Arabia is also making large investments in the superyacht and general tourism infrastructure on its Red Sea coast. Several superyacht marinas are in-build, like the immense NEOM project. Part of the NEOM project also provides for the development of Sindalah island into a luxury island and yacht club destination. The development of Sindalah was announced in December 2022 and it promises to be a prime destination for luxury yachts within NEOM. Owing to high oil and gas prices in recent years, development is booming again in Saudi Arabia, but also in Dubai, where a dedicated superyacht refit yard will be built by a consortium of P&O Marinas, Al Seer Marine and MB92.

Turkey on the rise. Many yachts known to be Russian owned have moved to Turkey and are now transmitting their tracking signals (AIS) from there on ship tracking websites, often under a new flag.

Registries like Malaysia, Palau or Saint Vincent & The Grenadines seem to be popular choices for these yachts. The big question is how and whether the Turkish superyacht maintenance and refit infrastructure will develop in order to deal with this extra presence in Turkish marinas. Rampant inflation in Turkey may cause costs for new developments to spiral, making it more complicated and risky to invest in expansion.

New trends emerging

The world of superyachts and luxury-property rentals is adapting to meet travellers’ changing needs and desires, providing them with experiences that are not only unparalleled in luxury but are also in harmony with the planet. The future of luxury travel has never been brighter.

  • The Family Consideration Trend: A new inclusive trend is developing with the consideration of partners and children in all yacht decision-making processes. This change in decision making is already having an impact on 2023 designs and refurbishments with children and partner requirements now being considered.
  • The “Explorer” Trend: There is an increasing desire to discover and explore very remote parts of the world in 2023. This desire for exploration has seen explorer yachts, also called expedition yachts, become the second most popular type of vessel currently under construction, charter, and refurbishment.
  • The Sustainability and Sailing Yacht Trend: Sustainability within the yachting industry is expected to become a key issue in 2023, especially with a younger generation of yacht users. Younger clients are concerned about their global footprint and conservation. Additionally, this year, yacht builders are going to be increasingly focused on launching eco-conscious vessels, many of which will also incorporate greener materials.
  • The Yacht Safety Trend: 2023 will also be the year yacht companies promote safety onboard. This promotion will see an increase in yacht safety devices using A.I. and technology. The installation of fire, smoke, heat, gas, and flame detectors connected to A.I. are an emerging trend. These devices can automatically call emergency services if required.
  • The Metaverse and Virtual Reality Trend: Virtual reality and the Metaverse are expected to have an impact on the yacht industry in 2023. With the launch of the Metaverse and cheaper VR headsets, the concept of viewing a yacht in a 3D, 360-degree environment has become much more appealing and accessible. This will ultimately lead to more charter bookings and yacht sales, with clients being able to virtually step on board the yacht of their choice with minimum effort.

Paolo Moretti
Chief Executive Officer, RINA