The Darwin 86 Empire is Delivered

Built for an American owner, this explorer yacht is a custom design for long voyages in high-latitude regions.
Darwin 86 Empire
The Darwin 86 Empire, custom-designed for high-latitude voyages, is now part of Cantiere delle Marche’s fleet of 12 Darwins. Courtesy Cantiere delle Marche

Cantiere delle Marche has delivered the Darwin 86 Empire, which now joins the shipyard’s fleet of 12 Darwins that range from 86 to 112 feet length overall.

“The Darwin Class is still giving us a great satisfaction, confirming the validity of a model that stands the test of time,” Vasco Buonpensiere, co-founder and CEO of Cantiere delle Marche, stated in a press release.

Empire is owned by an American who wanted a custom design that’s capable of long voyages in high-latitude regions. Hydro Tec handled the aesthetics.

The yacht has what Cantiere delle Marche calls an “ice belt” at the waterline, along with a reinforced hull and rudders for icy conditions.

Darwin 86 Empire
The yacht includes custom-made furniture by Alessandro Massari, Poltrona Frau, and Poliform for understated elegance. Courtesy Cantiere delle Marche

According to what the shipyard described as “a quite unusual request from the owner,” the hull is partially built with bulletproof steel plates, reflecting his intention to navigate remote and challenging seas. Also to enhance security, Empire is protected by what the shipyard calls “a sophisticated anti-intrusion system.” Another unusual feature is a fourth pilot station, located in the engine room.

Interiors are by Alessandro Massari. The owner requested understated elegance, according to the shipyard. Custom-made furniture is included, along with pieces by Poltrona Frau and Poliform.

Empire’s layout includes a full-beam owner’s stateroom located amidships on the lower deck. Adjacent to the master are two guest staterooms with twin berths and Pullmans to accommodate extra guests. Forward on the lower deck is the VIP stateroom.

Darwin 86 Empire
The Darwin 86 Empire features a reinforced hull with an “ice belt” for high-latitude cruising. Courtesy Cantiere delle Marche

Quarters for four crew are located forward on the main deck with a substantial crew mess where the team can relax. These quarters are connected to the wheelhouse on the upper deck to ensure efficient communication and crew movement.

For guests, Empire’s main deck has indoor and outdoor spaces for lounging and dining. A bar is on this deck, as is the galley.

On the upper deck, there’s a gymnasium as well as a lounge area that opens onto an outdoor terrace. The wheelhouse is also on this deck with Böning integrated monitoring and control systems.

The sundeck is outfitted with loose furniture and sunbeds.

Darwin 86 Empire
Powered by twin Scania engines, the Darwin 86 Empire reaches a top speed of 11.6 knots. Courtesy Cantiere delle Marche

Power comes from twin Scania engines, each delivering 294 kW. Three generators from Northern Light provide a total of 155 kW of power. The yacht also has sodium-lithium chloride batteries for enhanced energy efficiency.

Let’s talk performance data for the Darwin 86 Empire: According to Cantiere delle Marche, sea trials with the yacht at half load resulted in a top speed of 11.6 knots with a fuel consumption of about 38 gallons per hour. Noise levels were below 40 decibels, which is about the same as the quiet hum of a refrigerator.

Take the next step: learn more about the project at