Why the Dutch are the finest yacht builders

There are not many countries in the world that boast of having such a solid reputation for building superyachts as the Netherlands. Dutch yacht builders are among the finest, producing an exceptional quantity of premium, high-quality yachts. Many high-value, innovative shipyards are operating out of the country, including the likes of Oceanco, Heesen and Feadship. But what makes this Northern European country such a unique place to construct yards, and where does this reputation come from?

Part of it stems from the Netherlands’ boat-building history, dating back centuries. The Dutch first built yachts in the late 16th century and were seen as swift-sailing vessels due to their innovative design. Not only known for their speed, but Dutch yachts were also in high demand across Europe due to their load capacity and mobility. The word ‘yacht’ itself comes from the Dutch word ‘jacht’, meaning hunt. By 1600, Dutch shipbuilders had dominated the European markets, as they used more efficient and effective construction techniques, producing ships of better design. The 17th-century Dutch East India Company helped further the country’s shipbuilding reputation. 

The Netherlands was perfectly set to make the shift to building leisure, luxury yachts during the 20th century. Some of the leading names in yachting emerged at the time, with heritage yards such as Amels, Royal Huisman and Hakvoort. Celebrated for their world-class build quality, high-tech facilities and innovation, Dutch shipyards are also renowned for being reliable when it comes to finishing yachts on time and within budget. There are several Dutch shipyards producing semi-custom or fully custom yachts, with many Dutch yachts becoming iconic within the industry, used in film and winning international awards.

One of the most established Dutch shipyards known for its semi-custom and custom yachts is Heesen. Founded in 1979 by Frans Heesen, the shipyard’s business model is based on three pillars: speculation build, platform yachts and its custom division. Heesen came to international acclaim in 1988 with the launch of the then fastest yacht in the world, Octopussy, with a top speed of over 50 knots. Capable of working on up to 15 yachts at a time, Heesen unveiled its new 85-metre dry dock in 2016 in response to market demand for bigger superyachts. In 2017 Heesen revealed Home, a cleaner, quieter and more fuel-efficient hybrid sustainable solution for propulsion. Launching a new comprehensive sustainability programme, Blue NauTech, Heesen seeks to offer the option for hybrid propulsion for all new-build yachts.

With several yachts currently under construction at Heesen, this includes three different projects started on speculation. These Heesen yachts for sale are Project Jade, a 50-metre aluminium semi-displacement yacht set for delivery in Spring 2024; the 57-metre Project Akira, to be delivered in Summer 2024; and the 55-metre Project Serena, with a delivery date of November 2024. Each features a striking exterior design by Omega Architects, with a custom interior design from world-famous design studios. Project Jade is the third yacht built to her class, with a sundeck that includes a large jacuzzi, full-height, multi-purpose tender garage, and a luxury beach club on the lower deck. Project Akira has a distinctive, concave shape that sets her apart from all the others, with structural and decorative glass throughout that enhances the indoor-outdoor connections to the surroundings. Project Serena sees Heesen reimagine the layout of its famous 55 metre Steel concept, adding larger windows, enhanced deck spaces and a new French balcony in the owner’s suite. All available on a short delivery schedule, due to Heesen’s speculative build programme, these state-of-the-art yachts are ready to find a new owner. 

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