Orient Express, a part of hospitality group Accor, is expanding into the cruise industry, with its first ship Orient Express Silenseas debuting in 2026.
To be named Orient Express Silenseas, the new ship will be built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France, with support from Hetland Maritime. It will operate using a hybrid propulsion system running on LNG fuel and will also feature three rigid sails (known as SolidSails), each with a surface area of 1,500 metres, connected to a balestron rig. The three titling masts will enable the vessel to sail using wind propulsion in suitable weather conditions. The firm plans to replace the LNG with green hydrogen once the necessary technology is approved for ocean passenger ships.
“With a signed letter of intent to order two ships, Chantiers de l’Atlantique is proud to herald a new era in the shipbuilding industry with Silenseas,” said Laurent Castaing, managing director of Chantiers de l’Atlantique. “This concept, born in our design offices in 2018, is the quintessence of our savoir-faire in the fields of naval architecture, the construction of sophisticated hulls, as well as the design of luxurious spaces.
“In addition, the installation of three SolidSail rigs, a revolutionary 1,500-square-metre unit wind-propulsion system, for which we have developed and tested a first prototype, will contribute significantly to the propulsion of the ship. Combined with a hybrid propulsion system running on LNG, Silenseas will thus become the ship of reference in terms of environmentally friendly operation and design.”
Orient Express aims for the vessel to be a tribute to the ‘Golden Age of the French Riviera’ and will incorporate elements such as an onboard cabaret Amphitheatre and private recording studio to reflect the culture of the era. Design firms Maxime d’Angeac and Stirling Design International will work on the interior spaces and exterior architecture respectively.
The vessel will feature 54 suites as well as a 1,415-square-metre Presidential Suite, two swimming pools, two restaurants and a speakeasy bar. Guests will benefit from onboard experiences such as spa treatments and meditation sessions, as well as overnight stays and excursions in the destinations the ship will visit.
“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’s history, will offer unparalleled service and refined design spaces. Innovation is at the heart of this ultra-modern ship that will revolutionise the maritime world with new technology to meet today’s sustainability challenges. It is a boat designed to make dreams a reality, a showcase for the best of French savoir-faire.”