Accor hotels group announces plans to take Orient Express brand to sea

Orient Express Cruises is a new brand set to be launched by the French hotel giant Accor, with the largest luxury sailing cruise ship in the world.

The Orient Express Cruises brand channels the iconic legacy of the Orient Express train, but is not related to the modern Belmond-owned Orient Express train that continues to operate in Europe.

That train, the full name of which is the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, is part of the LVMH conglomerate, while Orient Express Cruises is part of Accor Hotels. Both companies are headquartered in Paris.

At 220m and with a tonnage of 22,300 gross tons, Orient Express Silenseas will feature 54 Suites.

In a statement, Accor confirmed that the first ship for Orient Express Cruises, Silensea, will be built by the French shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique, with delivery expected in 2026. An option exists for a second ship as well.

The launch of the Orient Express Cruises brand ties in with Accor’s new Orient Express Hotels subsidiary, which plans to have a collection of ten hotels in operation by 2030.

“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 Sebastien Bazin, CEO, 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,” he added.

The relationship between trains and cruise ships is a natural one. Georges Nagelmackers, the founder of the Orient Express train, is reported to have been inspired by his trans-Atlantic ocean voyage from Europe to the United States in 1867.

The luxurious ocean liner suites, with their rich and sumptuous decor, adorned with exceptional marquetry, the restaurants and the unique ambiance of the lounges, libraries and entertainment venues, inspired him to create an overland transport option that would enable passengers to enjoy the same standard of luxury.

In 1883 he launched the Orient Express, which would go on to become the most legendary train in the world, which connected Paris and Constantinople (now Istanbul).

Accor says Orient Express Silenseas will echo the Golden Age of the French Riviera. At 220m and with a tonnage of 22,300 gross tons, Orient Express Silenseas will feature 54 Suites measuring on average 70-square-meters, including a monumental 1,415-square-meter Presidential Suite (including a 530-square-meter private terrace).

The ship is due for delivery in 2026, with an option for another vessel.

Up top, there will be two swimming pools including a lap pool, while dining options will include two restaurants and a speakeasy bar.

Orient Express Silenseas will also feature an Amphitheatre-Cabaret and a private recording studio, along with spa treatments, meditation sessions and exotic port calls.

A revolutionary technological sail design known as ‘SolidSail’ will propel the ship in open waters. Three rigid sails with a surface area of 1,500 meters each will be hoisted on a balestron rig, with three tilting masts reaching more than 100 meters high, able to ensure up to 100% of the propulsion in suitable weather conditions.

This hybrid propulsion formula will combine wind power with a state-of-the-art engine running on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and 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.

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