First Impression: Lady Sheridan
Date toured: December 2007
Editor’s Note: The photographs accompanying this review are brochure images supplied by charter company Burgess Yachts. The company requested that I not run the photos I snapped of the yacht while I was onboard, as we typically do here on CharterWave.—K.K.
As I sat in the pilothouse waiting for the captain, I felt almost stunned. Certainly overwhelmed. And definitely impressed.
I had just finished a tour of the new 190-foot motoryacht Lady Sheridan, which launched in time for the summer 2007 charter season from the Abeking & Rasmussen yard in Germany. My tour had taken nearly an hour, but it felt like about five minutes. There was simply so much to take in, so many details to appreciate, that my brain was swimming trying to figure out where to start with my questions.
Lady Sheridan was not the biggest charter yacht I would see that day, nor during my entire month’s trip to two separate boat shows featuring more than 150 charter yachts. But she certainly was the most impressive out of that large bunch—and not just by my own estimate. Many reputable charter brokers told me they felt this new yacht was the star of the season in the Caribbean.
She is actually the second motoryacht to be called Lady Sheridan. The first was a 148-foot motoryacht built by Feadship and owned by the same couple. That yacht’s captain, chef, engineer, and chief stewardess all are onboard the new yacht, having completed about eight months of planning before helping to incorporate ideas at the shipyard—a function of the owners wanting the crew to have everything they need to provide top-notch service.
“We were there the whole time,” Capt. Keith Moore told me as we sat onboard the yacht at Port de Plaisance marina on Sint Maarten. “It makes a difference. For instance, we have much more storage in areas where it would not have been put in. Every single chair, every single bed, every single couch. Even the loose chairs have custom-made racks to hold service trays.”
That sort of detail will not be obvious to charter guests, but they certainly will notice what having that kind of storage space allows the stewardesses to provide: nine complete table settings, including different glasses, to make each meal on charter unique.
Those are the kinds of things that can help to separate good charter yachts from great ones, which is one of the reasons I was so impressed with Lady Sheridan. She has good service literally built in, with design features that will let her crew do things that crew onboard other yachts simply cannot. Another example of this is that there is a crew bathroom on the bridge deck, instead of several levels down near the crew quarters, as is common on yachts this size. “Ninety percent of our service is on this deck and up one deck on the sundeck,” Moore told me, “so it’s convenient. We can be back to serving the guests faster.”
Engineering features, too, take guest comfort into account. For instance, Lady Sheridan is the first yacht from Abeking & Rasmussen to have Hamann-brand soot cleaners on its generators, whose exhausts are located on the yacht’s top deck. On some yachts with this setup, guest chairs can get blasted with nasty, black ash. I know this to be true because I’ve sat in it, once while wearing white pants. That will never happen onboard Lady Sheridan, according to Moore. “It’s clean as a whistle up there,” he says. “It works 110 percent.”
Lady Sheridan is also the first yacht from Abeking & Rasmussen to be fitted with the newest model of zero-speed stabilizers from Quantum Marine, according to Moore. It’s a setup that should make rolling and pitching at sea virtually nonexistent.
Breakdowns, too, should be a rarity thanks to heavy-duty engineering. “What’s impressive is the machinery spaces,” Moore says. “It’s a small ship. There’s no plastic on the boat. There’s no PVC on the boat. The seakeeping ability of this boat is incredible. This boat is the best I’ve been on, and I was in the commercial fishing industry.”
In my opinion, the interior décor is just as impressive. The yacht’s designer is world-renowned expert Donald Starkey, but according to Moore, Starkey worked hand-in-hand with the owners on the project. The husband was involved in things like the audiovisual and communications systems, while the wife—who does interior design for commercial buildings—handled every detail of the interior décor.
There are different styles and tones of wood throughout the yacht, as well as countless objets d’art, inlayed carpets, and embroidered fabrics. Everywhere I looked in every guest area or cabin, I found myself walking up to one of these items to get a closer look. They were that beautifully selected. The flowers atop one of the bedspreads in a guest cabin, for instance, reminded me of handmade icing atop a wedding cake. And as I write this review nearly two months after my tour, I can still see the lighted glass jellyfish sculptures from the sky lounge clearly in my mind. That’s how memorable some of the décor details were.
The design of the yacht itself enhances the décor, too. For instance, each of the guest cabins is entered through a set of double doors instead of a single one. The look adds a level of elegance, for sure. Even the seating in the outdoor guest space on the bridge deck is thoughtfully placed, with a main bench seat as well as cozy corner nooks on each side for watching the sunset. What a smart idea.
Another smart idea is the “quiet cabin” with a full bathroom near the master suite on the main deck. It can serve as a staff or child’s cabin, or as a retreat for light sleepers. Again, this is a feature that will enhance charters no matter what kind of group comes aboard.
Not that Lady Sheridan is going to need much help getting charter bookings. She did just over 100 days of charter during her first season in the Mediterranean, Moore told me, including a one-month charter that included 2,900 nautical miles of cruising from St. Tropez to Greece and back. As of this writing, she had no more availability for the winter season, according to Burgess Yachts. Ideally, the owners hope to have 12 weeks of charter each year in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.
I can’t imagine that top-dollar charter clients will pass up an opportunity to nab one of those weeks. Yes, Lady Sheridan is one of the more expensive charter yachts in the world today—at a weekly base rate of 324,000 euros for 12 guests with 15 crew—but based on what I saw during my time aboard, she appears to be worth it.
Anyone wanting to charter one of the most impressive new launches on the world’s waters will certainly have Lady Sheridan on their short list this year.
Contact any reputable charter broker to learn more.—Kim Kavin