If riding the redesigned original Orient Express train in 2025 and staying at an Orient Express hotel are on your bucket list, make room: The Orient Express Silenseas, a luxurious 722-foot-long (220-meter-long) ship with three masts standing over 300 feet high, will sail the Mediterranean and Caribbean beginning in the spring of 2026. It will have 54 suites for a total of 120 people. Reservations will commence in 2024.
The Orient Express Silenseas is the first venture into the cruise sector by global hospitality giant Accor SA, in collaboration with French shipbuilding company Chantiers de l’Atlantique. The delivery of the second yacht is expected during the first quarter of 2027.
Sébastien Bazin, the chief executive officer of AccorHotels, explains, “We’re trying to go back to the best ever years of ship makers between 1934 and 1938, extremely innovative at the time.”
Commercial banks will fund up to 70-80% of the project, with the remaining covered by a consortium of equity partners in which Accor will have a minority position.
Bazin says his ambitions for the Orient Express Silenseas are twofold: providing the best in terms of luxury, experience, and design, as well as being led by sustainability and safeguarding the environment while travelling. The cruise industry is the travel sector that is least recognised for its ecological or climate sensitivity, and attempts to reduce carbon emissions lag well behind.
An Eco-Friendly Cruise
Depending on the weather, the Orient Express Silenseas will utilise a hybrid propulsion system using wind as its primary source of energy. Chantiers de l’Atlantique created three rigid sails composed of glass polyester panels and a 16,145-square-foot unit wind propulsion system, which contribute to the ship’s ability to cruise silently across the ocean. “We may not stop when we are meant to stop because the wind is too strong and that’s the way I want it,” Bazin says.
The ship will also be equipped with a liquefied natural gas (LNG) engine, which will lower carbon dioxide emissions by 20% when compared to diesel, according to the business. (Note that there is no such thing as an emissions-free ocean trip, and LNG is a form of fossil fuel, albeit a less damaging one)
The Orient Express Silenseas will also be prepared for the usage of green hydrogen if legislation permits it in the future, which Bazin predicts could occur before the ship’s launch. Additional greening goals include the use of shore power, which allows the ship to connect into electricity once moored instead of running its engine, and the installation of a sonar device to identify marine creatures along its route to prevent collisions.