Nautical Expert

Motorboat magazine

Could the superyacht industry collapse in the coming decades?

Updated on March 28th, 2024

Although our magazine primarily focuses on boats up to 24 meters, we also keep a close eye on the superyacht industry and are interested in everything that happens in the world of the big boys. And a lot of interesting things happen there.

The luxury boat market seems to be optimistic for the next decade, with experts predicting annual growth of several percent, depending on the source. However, we wonder if it’s possible that the superyacht market will just collapse instead? And, moreover, is it possible that this will happen almost suddenly?

Of course, history and common sense tell us that anything is possible, but after a recession, as a rule, comes a revival. But in the near future there may be not just a temporary recession, but an almost complete disappearance of the superyacht market as we know it today.

Yes, we also think this is extremely unlikely, but let’s speculate.

If we do not consider such troubles as an encounter with a huge asteroid and a catastrophic solar flare, then a global change in trends and priorities may well put an end to the race for the size of floating palaces. Given how quickly trends can change these days, it shouldn’t surprise us if superyachts suddenly stop being sold and become exclusively relevant for charter.

Today, the superyacht market faces negative factors such as panic about climate change and emissions, as well as growing inequality. In addition, marinas in some of the most scenic coastal cities now limit the maximum sizes of visiting vessels, even to the detriment of their budgets. And this trend will undoubtedly spread.

Now we need to look at what can change most quickly, namely the number of young people making more informed choices. It’s quite difficult to analyze, but their numbers seem to be growing, even despite aggressive attempts to force excessive consumption and desire for ostentatious luxury on them.

Another clear trend can be seen in the desire of wealthy young people to gain new experiences other than lounging on the deck with a glass of champagne. This explains the growing demand for ice-type explorers. But given that the pursuit of ever-newer experiences implies fickleness, there is no point in buying your own superyacht. A charter in this case makes much more sense.

Of course, international political games with pirate hijackings of superyachts also added fuel to the fire, destroying the myth of the inviolability of private property and making the super rich look pretty bad. We know several successful entrepreneurs from different countries who refused to buy large yachts, including for these reasons. Even though the largest boats are acquired as assets of their own companies, and sometimes companies are created specifically for this purpose.

It is also clear that climate activists will increase pressure on the luxury yacht sector in the future. Already, many owners fear that their boats will become the next target.

One can also fantasize that, thanks to the rapid development of technology, a completely new trend will appear that will not resonate with gigantism, and will also radically change the way in which status is demonstrated. Or perhaps the very concept of status will change completely or disappear altogether. But it seems that here we have already entered the realm of fantasy and utopia.

One thing is for sure: even if the new super-rich stop buying private superyachts, luxury charter will likely continue to thrive as people don’t suddenly stop loving the sea and craving the comfort and fun of being on the water. Well, at least until the climate goes completely crazy.