I’ve been aboard a lot of Benetti yachts over the years, both custom and series-built, but I was totally unprepared for what I encountered during my time aboard Ocean Paradise. In some ways, the 180-foot motoryacht is quite traditional, with an aluminum superstructure and a steel displacement hull featuring a prominent bulbous bow. Her interior, however, is utterly unique. The owner didn’t want anything he’d ever seen ashore or afloat, leaving Benetti’s in-house design team open to fill the canvas with something totally new. Intended for both charter and private use, Ocean Paradise not only meets the owner’s spec, but also lives up to her name, with guest comfort paramount.
Zen-inspired, the interior is one of the brightest you’ll find. Even the VIP stateroom, just below the top deck, has skylights to augment the large windows at the side. The trick is the skylights aren’t real; they’re recesses in the overhead that utilize LED lighting to create the desired impression. Various type and color LEDs allow infinite setting combinations to create any mood you want.
The color scheme throughout the yacht is predominantly white with black accents for definition. Pillows, throw rugs and loose chairs accent the spaces with bold splashes of color. Lots of glass and mirrors create a never-ending interplay of light.
Guests are accommodated in four queen staterooms below deck amidships, a master suite forward on the main deck and a VIP stateroom between the navigation area and the sky lounge on the bridge deck. Two of the four lower staterooms include pullman berths for flexible guest arrangements, but Ocean Paradise normally operates with a complement of 12 guests who enjoy the ultimate in indoor and outdoor pleasures. From the beach club aft at water level to the top-deck spa forward, and from the main-deck salon to the sky lounge above, guest areas abound.
At the stern, a central section of the reverse transom folds out to expand the beach club that’s tucked into the hull, with the expansion making guest access to the water easier. The main deck carries a large open area aft, as does the bridge deck. Nicely, the aft central portion of the bridge deck has been kept open, allowing guests to stand at the rail. It may seem an insignificant design detail, but people-watching from that vantage point is often a favorite activity when Med-moored in ports such as Monte Carlo, Cannes or Antibes.
Because the main tender is stowed in a side-opening garage aft and the rescue RIB and personal watercraft are forward, this yacht’s top deck is fully devoted to guest pursuits. The after portion is flexible, sometimes filled with sun lounges and at other times set up for alfresco dining or dancing under the stars. A lounge and bar area are in the shade of the radar and satcom arch. Forward is a sizable spa with a waterfall feature and retractable umbrellas, providing what is arguably the second-best seat in the house. The first is the jewel of a balcony that’s part of the owner’s suite.
Permanently recessed into the starboard side rather than folding out, the private balcony is usable at anchor, in port or underway. Though it can be outfitted with a small table and a couple of chairs, a hanging wicker basket shaped like a cutaway egg swayed ever so gently from its short tether the day I was aboard. It wasn’t hard to imagine curling up inside with a cool libation and letting the gentle motion of the ocean induce a little snooze time. The younger set may obsess about their smartphones, with an app for almost everything, but my motto is “There’s a nap for that,” and this little cocoon might just be the perfect spot.
The remainder of the master suite includes a den/office off the main entry foyer, equally suitable for entertaining special guests or receiving business associates. Her main stateroom, with seating to starboard and a king berth to port, spans the yacht’s full beam, nearly 30 feet at this point. The head includes a freestanding soaking tub partitioned from the stateroom by a glass bulkhead. A hanging locker to port completes the suite.
Walking through Ocean Paradise, it’s obvious that particular attention was paid to the separation of guest relaxation and crew working areas. That’s an important consideration on a charter yacht where guests new to the pastime may inadvertently wander into the wrong place at the wrong time and risk injuring themselves. A good example of this yacht’s smart separation is the bridge deck, where a Portuguese bridge and protected passage to the foredeck provide guests with a view at the bow while underway, docking, anchoring or in other close-quarters maneuvering; however, this entire area can be closed to guests, allowing the crew to carry out the captain’s orders without distraction. Those guests who want to watch can do so from the safety of the top deck, because wing stations below serve in place of a flybridge.
Such a sensible layout reflects an experienced owner making sensible decisions in conjunction with a reputable charter agency, Y.CO in this case. There’s plenty of room for the larger crew that’s needed in charter service, as well as for support activities such as food stowage, prep and service. Comfort comes not only from the crew, of course, but also from the yacht herself. Ocean Paradise gets a head start on that by having engines that are larger than necessary to propel her long, lean displacement hull, and then operating them at a significantly reduced speed. Turning at just 1,800 rpm, twin Caterpillar 3512 C32s will not only operate quietly and with negligible vibration, but they should also have a long life.
Benetti has come a long way since I first visited the Viareggio shipyard nearly 20 years ago. It’s expanded to a second yard, much larger and more open, a few miles south on Italy’s western coast, but the progress has been about more than the size of its facilities and the length of its yachts. Attention to detail, both in finish and in systems engineering, has been impressive as well, allowing the builder to offer yachts that hold their own against the competition.
Ocean Paradise is a great example of a yacht that’s an expression of the state of mind we want to achieve on the water. And who couldn’t use a little nautical nirvana in their life?
Built Like Ships: Outfitting for the Sea
Yachts are sometimes referred to as little ships. Such is the case with Ocean Paradise. Her engines turn more slowly and she rides atop a full-displacement hull. Take a walk through the engine room, and you’ll see mechanical and electrical systems that are far superior to those aboard lesser vessels and, indeed, better than you’ll find aboard many commercial ships. Her bridge is also a prime example of such technology transfer, a triumph of function over form. It starts with the vertical wraparound windshield. Not only does this configuration reduce glare and reflection, but it also reduces the sunlight heat that can make a bridge warm when the glass is mounted on a serious slant, more resembling a skylight than a window. Additionally, the console carrying the electronics for monitoring, control and communication is moved aft, keeping all the instruments out of the sun and heat and allowing the crew to stand directly at the glass for a better view.
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