UK luxury liner sector in the spotlight

Britain may not be producing luxury liners anymore, but the country is famous for its magnificent super yachts. Baroque Yachts gives us an update


If you’d been in Southampton last week, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the UK is still a leader in the maritime industry. But although this is not the case, the country’s historic ship building company, Cunard, can still boast having built three of the largest and most luxurious cruise liners in the world.

 Yes, these magnificent cruise liners of the world’s most prestigious leisure and luxury ships are still being built in Britain by Cunard, who celebrated its 175th anniversary this May in Southampton by gathering together three of its iconic cruise liners – Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.


Sadly, none of these three exquisite mega-liners were built in Britain… Queen Mary 2 was built in a French shipyard, while Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth were put together in Italy. In fact, the last Cunard liner to be built in the UK was the famous QE2 that sailed the seven seas for almost half a century. And the last large ships to be built in the country were built more than a decade ago.

 The company says that it would consider building ships in Britain again, if “British yards were able to meet our specifications”. Unfortunately, there are no commercial shipbuilding yards left in the UK that would be able to handle a project of that magnitude.

 So what killed the industry? It’s believed that competitive ship builders in the East, particularly Japan and South East Asia, offered much lower prices. The result? Germany started concentrating on building container vessels, and other European countries continued to focus on the luxury market, but Britain floundered. Today, British Navy ships are being built by Daewoo in Korea, although massive military aircraft carriers are still being produced in Scotland.


However, every cloud has a silver lining, and Britain is still manufacturing some of the most luxurious super yachts in the world. The country is renowned for its expertise and meticulous quality control, and its design innovation is legendary. Yacht building contributes around three billion pounds a year to the UK economy.


Right at the top of the super yacht building industry one finds Pendennis, based in Falmouth, which produces bespoke motor and sail-powered super yachts and mega yachts. Like the British motor industry, the country concentrates on quality, not quantity. That said, the largest sailing catamaran in the world, Hemisphere, which is 44.2 meters long, was built by Pendennis. Of course, these luxury yachts don’t come cheap and the company’s annual turnover is in the region of £34 million.


Other major contenders in the super yacht building sector include Sunseeker International and Princess Yachts, which is majority owned by the French investment group that owns luxury goods company LVMH, and celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

While the super yacht building industry is a niche one, it still is a major player, with a turnover of almost £500 million in 2014.


If you would like to find out about chartering a super yacht, contact Baroque Yachts for all the details on