Published in: Monday, 14 July 2008
Features > Oceanco – Alfa Nero (Page 1/1)

Oceanco – Alfa Nero

Alfa Nero is one of those yachts that comes only once in awhile. It is yacht whose name alone evokes the sumptuous pleasures that a Roman emperor might have considered his due. Awards and praise have been piled upon this amazing creation. But the reality is more than most might imagine

The Roman emperor Nero got a lot of bad press – some say unjustifiably so. When Rome burned, Nero was said to be playing the lyre. But Nero did take the opportunity to rebuild Rome in a more grandiose and stylish way. In a parallel fashion, the commissioning brief for Alfa Nero was the chance to look afresh at what a Mediterranean yacht could be. The results have had yacht spotters – and, no doubt, the guests of Alfa Nero – in rapture ever since. 

To say that the new approaches that Dutch shipbuilder Oceanco and Monaco-based designer Dan Lenard have incorporated into this superb 83-metre (269-foot) vessel have won immense admiration would be an understatement. Alfa Nero has garnered awards in Europe, the US and even Asia for a style that cuts through the white boat wedding cakes of the Med.

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Setting aside traditional large motor-yacht design templates, they have come up with an utterly streamlined concept to realise the owner’s vision of closely linking the lives of those on board with the placid waters of the Mediterranean Sea that he loves so much. Instead of a conventional all-white colour scheme, her dramatic black steel hull reflects the gently lapping waves like a basalt mirror.  The lines are sleek, open and free of the usual top-heavy collection of vertical superstructure. 

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This is a boat for sun and fun lovers. From the faded teak to the open spaces on the aft portion of the boat, when you board Alfa Nero, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped on to a moving villa by the sea. In all, Alfa Nero’s exterior exudes a sublime combination of pared-down elegance and laid-back luxury, with an unmistakeable hint of the tremendous power she is capable of once her engines get underway.

A versatile pool

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One of her most eye-catching exterior features is the magnificent 12-foot by 23-foot infinity pool that reclines on the aft deck, flanked by a transparent water transom and bleached teak decks, a bar, sunpads chaises longues and recliners. Miracles of modern engineering mean it can be filled with either sea or fresh water. And for an encore, it can transform itself into a landing pad for a nine-passenger helicopter when visitors drop in.  

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The aft decks are gleefully free of large overhangs, as the Mediterranean sun is welcomed with open arms by guests. The deck areas, with settees and bars recall the ambiance of a beach front resort. As you look down from the upper aft deck towards the lower pool and beyond, it’s not hard to imagine that this is how an emperor might have spent some free time to ponder some truly mighty affairs.

Plentiful party space

The celebrated Italian designer Alberto Pinto was given a completely free hand to create Alfa Nero’s 1,250-square metre (4,101-square-foot) interior. The outcome is a blend of contemporary affluence and nautical influence that’s packed with comfortable yet subtle details.

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The pool, patio seating, dance floor, main saloon and lounge, and two dining rooms combine to form a continuum that spans almost the entire length of the main deck.  The sliding glass partitions that separate them can be opened up to convert the whole area from the pool to the saloon into one vast entertainment zone. Makassar ebony walls inlaid with circles of zebrano wood give the rooms an abstract underwater feeling.

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The large saloon and lounge area occupies the deck’s full beam and roughly half its length. This main entertaining and relaxation area features off-white couches, Edelmann leather chairs, generous use of supple goat leather, mother-of-pearl and chocolate-dark wood inlays and brown carpeting. What emerges from this clever use of such exotic materials is a crisp, airy feel with a strong hint of masculinity – perhaps recalling the name of the boat itself. 

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The decorative, jet-black grand piano (one of only eight of its kind ever made) stands in the corner, quietly adding to the feeling that you’ve stepped into another realm. 

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The main dining room has a formal layout that seats up to 14 around an oval table, while the second dining area is a more casual area that seats four in the round.  Besides Makassar ebony, both rooms feature hand-made, acid-sculpted glass adorned with silver leaf. The walls and the doors linking them are lined with goatskin.

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In one of those charming bits of engineering that makes you wonder why it hasn’t been done before, the gunwales can be lowered to give diners a view of the sea as they relax in sumptuous surroundings. Yet a third dining area between the upper saloon and the aft deck gives diners the option of enjoying their meal al fresco or indoors, thanks to the presence of more sliding glass doors. 

A personal retreat

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The upper-deck owner’s suite has been designed to provide the highest degree of privacy. A skylight is flanked by sofas near the aft deck. A sky lounge and private dining room are lined with tropical hardwood panels, interspersed with smaller spherical ones covered in white lacquer. This creates a mother-of-pearl effect that expands the rooms’ dimensions. 

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The suite has two entrances that lead either into the office or dressing area. The office’s floor-to-ceiling closet doors are made of aluminium and zinc embossed with wavy diagonal patterns, and its main wooden surface is louro faia, a Brazilian lacewood, detailed in silver and finished in a high gloss. A 50-inch high-definition plasma screen equipped with 5.1 surround sound provides entertainment at the touch of a button.

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The owner’s bathroom in the aft section boasts a steam shower and Jacuzzi tub surrounded by marble, stainless steel and wood finishes. It has direct access to the patio, where there’s an utterly secluded outdoor hot tub that can neither be seen nor accessed by any other part of the boat. In short, it is a completely private space on a vessel that has been built on top of a very open pleasure palace.

Where will the revellers sleep?

It goes without saying that a boat whose aft deck resembles an outdoor villa, with a swimming pool that changes into a dance floor, is going to have some tired party people at some point. They can, of course, rest assured in the Alfa Nero’s gorgeous accommodation spaces. Located on the main and lower decks, the staterooms are both plentiful and fantastic. A master stateroom, two VIP suites, a double guest cabin and two twin guest cabins ensure there’s no shortage of lavish accommodation for visitors on the Alfa Nero.

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Pinto has used different coloured leathers and soft furnishings to give each its own individual flavour. He has also extended the marine theme to the handcrafted bases, which are shaped like staghorn coral branches that support the side tables. This motif is reflected in the sconces of the sideboards in the anigre-panelled VIP suites, as well as the embroidered bedspreads and pillows. 

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The VIP bathrooms boast wainscot latticework of maple, birch and anigre on the walls, as well as floor mosaics of giallo elisa, black slate and marble.

And as any good party planner might expect, a lot of fun in the sun with a bit of partying thrown in has only one result: hungry people. Alfa Nero’s ultra-modern and well-planned galley would satisfy the most stringent requirements of any celebrity chef. Its storage space is massive, and the full array of premium equipment can cater for everything from a quick snack to a full banquet.

In fact, the roll call of Alfa Nero’s amenities can, at times, seem endless. A gym, beauty salon, theatre lounge, huge terraces and pantries on all three guest decks would have you wondering why you’d ever want to leave. 

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But it’s not just amenities that make Alfa Nero what she is. It’s the fine touches, such as the leather-stepped staircase and the circular, glass-walled elevator. Even the crew can take plenty of comfort onboard. There is lower-deck accommodation for up to 28 crew members, and that includes a separate mess/lounge for the officers and crew, an office for the engineer, and even a VIP crew stateroom.


But in case you thought that Alfa Nero’s connection to the sea and sky was only on the aft deck, then the launches in the spacious stern garage should put that notion to rest. The garage comfortably houses three boats – an eight-passenger Yachtwerft Meyer enclosed limo tender with top speed of 35 knots, an eight-metre Novurania utility tender, and a six-metre Ski Nautique boat – as well as a full array of water toys.

Launch ramps open up on either side of Alfa Nero and these, combined with the terrace ramps that open out of the hull, create the feeling that Alfa Nero is a beach party unto itself. It certainly opens up the cruising and anchoring opportunities, as any private cove can be quickly turned into a playground. Let the gods look on in envy.


Precision and power

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All these dazzling features shouldn’t distract one from the fact that this yacht is a seaworthy vessel. Her wheelhouse boasts the latest navigational equipment, including integrated nautical systems and radar, Inmarsat satellite communications, SSB and weather information displays. 

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Large, shaded windows provide an unobstructed 225-degree view from the bridge, while the open rear view also offers direct visibility to the aft. At a time when many bridges put style over substance, the captain will certainly welcome the concern for visibility.

A CCTV monitoring system with 18 cameras keeps a constant watchful eye over the entire yacht, including the engine room and every deck, plus its surrounding territories. The captain’s cabin and office are just abaft the bridge. The wheelhouse also contains the command centre for the SeaTel entertainment system that extends throughout the vessel, offering a choice of more than 1,000 CDs and DVDs with surround sound, in every cabin, dayhead and lobby. 

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Meanwhile, the vessel’s engineer can effortlessly oversee her entire array of powerful gear from his station next to the engine room. This includes two MTU 16V 595 TE70 diesel engines that can each generate 4,680 horsepower to power her massive twin Wartsila five-blade propellers, giving her a steady cruising speed of 14 knots that can be ramped up to 20 or 21 knots. A sturdy BrownBrothers/Rolls-Royce Aquarius stabiliser system controls the vessel’s movements should a spell of difficult weather set in. 

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Alfa Nero’s forward and aft thrusters can also propel her unaided in the event of serious engine failure, or when slow, gentle movement is called for. Perhaps most importantly, Alfa Nero has what it takes for extended sojourns around the Mediterranean. There are three 332-kilowatt generators powering a water-maker, air-conditioning plant, and low-maintenance plumbing system. Her fuel capacity is 294,000 litres, yielding a cruising range of 6,000 kilometres at cruising speeds.  

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The Alfa Nero has sleek lines and a relatively low displacement volume for her size. While her hull’s design may require more attention to fairing than more traditional models, her bulbous bow, with its slightly upward curve, draws water lower along the bow's entry, thus reducing the bow wave. These features earned her an excellent score during her sea trials.

When the Alfa Nero was commissioned in 2005, the owner requested a yacht with plenty of open deck space that was especially suitable for cruising the Mediterranean.  The floating palace he received after 14 months of design and construction work at Oceanco’s Alblasserdam shipyard would undoubtedly satisfy any European monarch… maybe even a Roman emperor.

Alfa Nero – Specifications

Length overall: 269 ft (82 m)

Length of waterline: 237 ft 10 ins (72.5 m)

Beam: 47 ft 07 ins (14.5 m)

Draft: 12 ft 9 ins (3.89 m)

Displacement: 1,915 tns (at half load)

Max speed: 20 kts

Cruising speed: 14 kts

Range: 5,500 nms

Fuel Capacity: 77,665 gls (293,994.01 l)

Water Capacity: 39,589 gls (149,860.67 l)

Hull material: steel

Superstructure material: aluminium

Engines: 2 x 4,683 hp MTU 16V595 TE70

Generators: 3x 43 hp MTU, 1x 35 hp MTU

Certification:   MCA, G6, LMC, UMS

Classification: Lloyd’s

Naval architecture: Oceanco

Exterior Design: Nuvolari-Lenard

Interior Design: Alberto Pinto Design/Nuvolari-Lenard

Builder: Oceanco