A Customer’s Perspective — Heesen Yachts

HEESEN YACHTS — A Customer’s Perspective




The nature of my work means that I’m often thrust into surreal situations, but even with that in mind, my recent experience was particularly surreal.

It’s one thing sitting on a superyacht, it’s another thing altogether going through the process of designing your own. Normally if you get the opportunity to go on a yacht, it’s just for a few hours and you enjoy the experience with a “carpe diem” type mentality, as you know it will soon come to an end.

When you are required to actually design your own superyacht, there is a permanence to your decisions, a requirement to think of longevity and the potential lifestyle you not only want to lead today, but for the next 10 years. You adopt the owner mindset, transforming from the laissez-faireness that temporary occupancy affords, to a sobering reality of the dare I say it potentially “mundane” day-to-day yacht living, that will undoubtedly punctuate the spectacular soirées and jet ski parties. A nice problem to have for sure, especially for those financially equipped to have it.

So just why do people buy superyachts anyway?

Well for one thing, they are a very comfortable, secure, luxury, transportation or leisure platform. For those that covet anonymity they are very private, very safe and of course, very flexible. Some clients see it as a floating hotel on which to conduct business or to enjoy with friends. Others see it more as an ultimate leisure family destination. There are also those who prefer to use their superyachts for exploring the world, going on extensive trips and requiring a more dynamic form, yachts capable of speeds of almost 40knots.

As you’d expect—myself aside—these clients are not easy to contact directly. After all these are owners of Fortune 500 companies, with large commitments and extensive teams, and as such the majority (60-70% of Heesen yachts) are sold through yacht brokers to client representatives or ship Captains.




While the minimum age of most superyacht owners tends to be around 55 years, there is now an increasing number of younger owners around 46-48 years old. At Heesen these owners are fondly described as “Google Clients” due to them having made their phenomenal wealth through tech entrepreneurship, e-commerce and cryptocurrency.  

Despite people’s perceptions of the super-rich, regardless of wealth there is always a budget, albeit mostly self-inflicted. To be a superyacht owner you’re looking at people with a net worth of over €1billion, and at a push those worth €500 million upwards, as the prices start at €40million, and after which you’ll need at least 10% of the yacht price annually to maintain it. That gives you a potential target group of around 7000 people worldwide. Very niche indeed.

Not entirely sure what to expect, I sat down with Frank Laupman from Omega Architects to design the Heesen superyacht that I would like to own. There began a process that took us in the region of an hour (due to timing constraints) but in actuality takes customers weeks, if not months—and it’s easy to see why.

Building your own superyacht is a two-and-a-half to three year project, so another budget that future owners need to take into consideration when designing their yacht is time; the more bespoke the superyacht, the longer they’ll have to wait for it.

Thankfully for the less patient Heesen do make a selection of superyachts to keep “in stock” should a customer opt for haste over personalisation. These superyachts are still designed according to a theme, with a fictional client in mind, often proving to be very accurate given their expertise and familiarity with their ultra-niche client base.

Heesen superyacht design sketch by Frank Laupman for Eli Ankutse | 2023

This year alone the world-leading Dutch shipyard began the year with a remarkable fifteen yachts under construction.


To keep things simple I opted to keep the overall superyacht form as is, the only amendment being a more sporty pointed finish to the bow, added to give the impression of pure speed. The 60metre length would be split into three floors with additions such as jet-ski enclaves and a mandatory onboard gym, complete with an endless swimming pool for training. An on-deck cinema space with room for a Helicopter drop off point were particularly lavish additions, as well as a meditation/prayer room on the partially covered third deck so I can pray for the funds to keep my yacht afloat. These are just some of the endless nuances and options available to create the superyacht of your dreams, ideas that can be brought to life but need to be rationalised due to their bearings on ship weight, balance, speed—and cost.

To my right sat a small model of a previous customer’s yacht, made to scale – I was later to learn that to create these alone costs in the region of €40k, not to mention a scaled model for in-water testing1, full interior design and material sourcing. Fifteen minutes into my yacht design, it was evidently clear to see how easily the €1million per metre cost can be vindicated.


As with many industries of late there have been marked improvements in efficiency and eco-friendly developments all-round, with some customers opting for finishes such as vegan leather, and with the engines themselves becoming more efficient. Heesen were in fact the first shipyard to build a hybrid engine powered aluminium superyacht, dubbed “Project Orion”. This 50 metre superyacht weighs 499 tonnes and yet only consumes an average 70 litres of fuel per hourthe lowest in its class.

“We were the first shipyard who dared to take the financial risk of building hybrid yachts on speculation and today, all our yachts are available with hybrid propulsion as an option. ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ is our mantra. Today, that change is real. It is a pleasure to see that clients trust our systems and decide to implement them in their highly customised yachts to reduce their footprint.”

_Arthur Brouwer, CEO, Heesen


My journey of creation was of course purely fictional, but as I walked through the Heesen shipyards and aboard completed yachts, I began to see the potential weight of my decisions, each one brought to life in staggering scale—and remarkable quality.

“Can I keep the drawing?” I asked Frank when it was time to leave, to which he gladly agreed. A memento, or perhaps the starting point of a future plan, who knows? As the saying goes, better to have loved and lost, than to never have designed a yacht… Something like that anyway.

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  1. Water testing carried out for all Heesen superyachts with a bespoke hull design
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