Given the Millennium 118's parentage, it is important to understand what the yacht is not. She is not a sparsely furnished, super-light, speed-at-any-cost build like Octopussy, Thunderball or Moonraker.
Instead, owners John Staluppi and John Rosatti asked naval architect Frank Mulder and designer Evan Marshall to create a motoryacht with considerably more creature comforts than Staluppi and Rosatti's earlier craft. The result is a vessel of moderate speed with a striking profile and a stylish interior that will appeal to a broad market of mainstream buyers.
While Millennium Super Yachts is a fairly new marque, Staluppi and Rosatti's partnership in yacht construction goes back to the mid-1980s. Their new series of semi-custom motoryacht designs ranges from an 80-foot flush-deck cruiser to a 151-foot trideck. There is also a 92-foot sportfisherman in the line. A second 118-footer, with a revised arrangement, is under construction, and a third hull, stretched to 122 feet, is expected to be started soon. All the yachts are of composite construction, with hulls tank tested for performance prediction.
"The United Nations built this boat", Staluppi said of the 118. The hull and superstructure were built in Dubai, UAE, the interior was crafted in Italy, the electrical system is from Holland, and much of the machinery and appliance outfitting is American.
The yacht's profile is dominated by a large, horizontal teardrop that stretches from the after end of the saloon to the forward end of the trunk, framing a series of flush, fixed windows within its dark outline. Black stripes above and below emphasize the length of the Millennium 118's raised pilothouse configuration.
Her interior is equally striking. First to catch my eye were the high-gloss madroño burl columns that house lighting between the saloon windows. Less obvious was the unique detailing of the circular dining room. The entire overhead rotates, taking with it a large, curved bulkhead panel that can provide three different moods within the saloon, depending on the panel's position.
With the panel closing the dining room off from the saloon, the crew is free to prepare the table, set out the food or clear the table after dinner, without disturbing the guests. Rotating the panel to a second position opens the dining room to the saloon while closing off the galley. A third position leaves the saloon and galley open to the dining room for a more informal arrangement.
The saloon has two sofas and a pair of loose chairs to port. A bar with four additional seats is to starboard. A plasma video screen is fitted, but rather than being fixed on a bulkhead or rising from a cabinet, it is recessed into the overhead, dropping down and swiveling into position when needed. A different arrangement, omitting the dining room for a larger saloon and adding a bar, will be on the second Millennium 118.
Forward, the split-level master suite has an angled arrangement that is attractive and spacious. A television at the foot of the berth rotates for easy viewing from the berth or the curved settee opposite.
Next to the settee, a winding stairway leads down to the dressing and bath area. A large, cylindrical shower enclosed by frosted glass is the centerpiece of the space. Much like the yacht itself, the shower is sensual without being overt. A full-size whirlpool bath is forward, and hanging lockers are on either side with a spacious vanity on centerline aft. I have seen similar up-and-down arrangements before, but this is certainly one of the most workable.
Guests are quartered belowdecks in three staterooms. The VIP, forward, has a swiveling television similar to that in the master. The portside guest has a queen berth, and the starboard has twins. Each stateroom incorporates the rounded look predominant throughout the yacht, but carries its own color scheme and décor.
Throughout the accommodations, the quality of the joinery is impressive. Not only do exposed surfaces exhibit a smooth, high gloss over well-matched veneers, but the inside of most cabinetry has the same level of finish.
Crew quarters are especially spacious, with a captain's cabin and two crew cabins abaft the guest accommodations. Crew mess and laundry areas are here, as well. Access is via a stairway from the aft main deck.
The engineroom is fully aft to allow for finer hull lines forward. The MTU diesels drive Teignbridge five-blade Nibral S-class propellers in a conventional arrangement. Two 55kW Northern Lights generators are fitted in sound boxes for electrical power under way or at anchor. An Atlas converter ensures shorepower can be made compatible with the yacht's system anywhere in the world. There is also a DeKaiser electrical control system for seamless power transfer and automatic paralleling of generators.
All of this, along with other machinery, does not come without cost. In addition to its weight, it occupies a lot of space, leaving the engineroom a bit crowded. The third hull, with four additional feet of length, should be better.
The Millennium 118's foredeck arrangement was well thought out. The anchors and windlasses are recessed, and the area around the windlasses is scuppered for easy chain washdown. For security, a windlass brake, a devil's claw and a chain stopper are fitted to each unit.
The seas were a little on the sloppy side as we headed out of Ft. Lauderdale northbound for the Millennium's home port of Riviera Beach, Florida, just past Palm Beach. A special stabilizing system by Maritime Dynamics, a sister company of the better-known Naiad, helped smooth the ride in the 4- to 6-foot seas we encountered. No separate stabilizer fins are fitted amidships; instead, the computerized, hydraulically driven system utilizes oversize trim tabs at the transom to quell rolling and pitching.
The yacht is also fitted with fixed interceptors, vertical plates at the transom that provide added lift aft at speed to boost the top-end numbers. These were still being adjusted during our test and the yacht was running very flat, making steering more difficult than it should be at full speed. I suspect the symptom will disappear once the interceptors are cut back.
Control at cruising speed was fine, with a smooth and comfortable ride regardless of heading in the heavy chop.
Fans of Staluppi and Rosatti's previous high-speed ventures will be pleased to know the Millennium series does not mean they've given up wretched excess. In addition to these semi-custom yachts, they are planning a custom 140-foot trideck motoryacht with more than 20,000 hp and a projected top speed of at least 70 knots to reclaim the world speed record for yachts ("The 70-Knot Superyacht", May). Testing has been done, the machinery is ordered and completion is planned within two years.