The early morning of January 20, 2015, saw one of the world’s biggest superyachts, the outstanding 134-metre motor yacht Serene, reach Auckland to the surprise and delight of early bird wharf strollers. Owned by Russian vodka tycoon Yuri Schefler, luxury mega yacht Serene is longer than a rugby field and represents the largest such vessel ever to visit the fabulous New Zealand yacht charter destination.
The 134m mega yacht Serene is one of the world's largest private superyachts. Photo from APS NZ/NZH
Superyacht Serene’s visit was arranged by Asia Pacific Superyachts New Zealand and is viewed as a huge coup for support industry and luxury tourism. The firm’s managing director, Duthie Lidgard, reported APS NZ is providing services for the vessel during her stay, reporting: “She is now berthed at Auckland’s Wynyard Wharf – the 134m M.Y. Serene is too big for the dedicated big boat marina. The $423 million Serene is the biggest superyacht to visit this country.”
Luxury yacht Serene is more expensive and 15m longer than the superyacht, motor yacht ‘A’, also owned by a Russian tycoon and attracting intense interest during her stay in New Zealand last summer.
Providing support for M.Y.A during her visit, founding director of APS NZ, Jeanette Tobin, commented: “Getting such a high-profile vessel as M.Y.A to New Zealand was a coup for the superyacht support industry and for luxury tourism. Following superyacht A’s stay her yacht managers spoke to their counterparts on ‘A’ about their visit and plans then were made for Serene’s visit here.”
Ms. Tobin said the busy Auckland Anniversary Weekend, Seafood Festival and busy cruise ship season created challenges finding space for the 8200-gross tonne vessel, which makes a splash wherever it arrives around the world.
The Grand Cayman Islands-flagged super yacht Serene was built in Italy and launched in 2011 and reportedly took three years to build. As reported first by local newspaper, The New Zealand Herald, in a recent article… ‘Serene is about 18m longer than the latest and biggest superyacht New Zealand billionaire Graeme Hart has ordered from a shipyard in Norway. The yacht (Serene) is owned by Yuri Schefler, a vodka tycoon who is understood to be holidaying in New Zealand for several weeks.’
The article included details from yacht charter websites showing the vessel has a helicopter hangar, two helipads and a submarine hangar. There is an underwater viewing space and 12 luxurious staterooms for 24 guests who are tended by up to 52 crew members. The owner’s suite boasts an exterior hot tub on its terrace. This stateroom has a centred oversize California king bed, full walk-in dressing area and spacious ensuite bathroom. It has its own lift which links to a “sea cabin” on deck two, with a private swim platform. Behind the owner’s suite are a salon, lounge bar and library with a fireplace.
There’s an internal seawater swimming pool, a hot and a cold Jacuzzi plus jet stream swimming pool on the sundeck. The vessel – more than three times as long as Fuller’s biggest ferry in Auckland – also has a cinema, a library and an indoor climbing wall for kids’.
The article also reported, ‘According to supermoney.com, the vessel last year was the fifth-most expensive superyacht afloat, costing US$330 million to build’, adding Serene can be chartered at times… ‘Last August Microsoft founder Bill Gates and family were spotted off Sardinia after hiring the boat for a week.’
Regarding the superyacht’s visit, Ms. Tobin said, “Spending by the party and crew during the visit will be huge – into the millions of dollars. It is likely to cruise around the coast but will be spending some time in Auckland. Other superyacht owners who visit enjoy the relaxed lifestyle and quintessentially Kiwi pastimes such as hunting and fishing.”
Offering concierge services to superyachts for the past 12 years, Ms. Tobin observed, “The tourism side of the business has boomed in the past year.”