Arcadia creates a design around people rather than hulls. The result is a stunning mix of comfort and delight in a 100-footer that must be experienced to be believed.
Naples is a populous, ancient, and faintly chaotic conurbation with great architecture, bad roads, and a long tradition of boatbuilding. Unfortunately, it also has a long tradition of corruption and crime, and is not generally known as a great place to do business. Writers in search of an easy metaphor can always peer through the haze at Vesuvius, which sits glowering over the city, a constant reminder of the ultimate futility of man’s endeavors. But companies trying to establish themselves here have to deal with difficulties that are not metaphorical but real.
Against this backdrop, the achievements of Arcadia Yachts are all the more impressive. Set up in 2008 by two partners in a huge empty factory building on the waterfront at Torre Annunziata, a few miles south of the city, the fledgling company was quick to demonstrate an uncompromising vision. Its first yacht, the Arcadia 85, took the 2010 Cannes boat show by storm: No one had seen anything like it before, but it soon won friends, and several awards.
The fact that this new boat was actually the second to be built went quietly unacknowledged—the first one having perished in a mysterious and decidedly non-metaphorical fire at the shipyard. The company chose not to dwell on such difficulties, but to focus on the future.
The superb, two-and-a-half deck Arcadia 115—another award-winner—soon followed. Then came the engagingly quirky 55-foot Sherpa, which raised eyebrows and won hearts in equal measure. And at the Cannes show last fall, alongside a new, raised-wheelhouse 85S, the shipyard unveiled its new 100.
For anyone new to Arcadia—who has perhaps looked at the photos or seen some video and concluded, “Hmm. That’s different.”—the best advice is simply to step aboard. Arcadia designs its yachts from the inside out, first considering how they will be used, and only then directing attention toward how they should look.
No modernist architect has better expressed the sacred credo that form follows function, and on the 100, the main deck is a stunning living space that Mies van der Rohe would applaud. There is floor-to-ceiling glass on three sides. Instead of a conventional set of central doors between interior and exterior, the aft corners of the saloon slide away. One effect of this is that the cockpit, while communicating effortlessly with the saloon, remains a discrete living area, sheltered as it is by that generous superstructure overhang. Another is that even with the doors open, the aft dining area also feels like its own separate space.
In the saloon itself, meanwhile, entire walls of glass slide across to give access to the folding balconies, one each side. It is an architectural tour de force, but also, most importantly, a fantastic place in which to sit and have dinner, or to lounge about with a tall drink while enjoying spectacular views. The quality of the fit-out adds a tangible layer of contentment to the experience.
The main-deck master has panoramic views and the added effect of light filtering between the small solar panels in its glass overhead.
The first Arcadia 100 was produced with an eye-catching owner’s suite forward on the main deck, its bed surrounded on three sides by huge windows—there’s a glass roof as well, laminated with photovoltaic panels—and a substantial head and shower, as well as an open-plan dressing area. It is a sleeping cabin of rare distinction, but in the standard layout this forward area is intended as a private family sitting room, with sofas and a big TV. Alternatively, if you prefer, it can be furnished as the yacht’s main dining room. In all cases a door leads out onto the foredeck, where there is a small private dinette. Set amidships on the port side, a bright, spacious, and professional-looking galley has a door onto the side deck, and can serve the bow as easily as the cockpit.
There are also options down below. Our 100 was fitted out amidships with an impressive double en suite to starboard, which lay opposite a comfortable sitting room with a sofa bed, a bulkhead-mounted television, and its own impressive head and shower compartment. Sliding partitions along the centerline can be used to separate these areas and create two private en suite cabins.
About the only areas of the yacht that conform to the standard layout are the two twin-berth guest cabins on either side of the main companionway, which feel unusually spacious for secondary guest accommodation, with their efficient, square layouts, roomy head compartments and 6 feet 9 inches of headroom. Forward, five crew berths in three cabins are complemented by an uncommonly spacious crew mess and pantry, in an area which could otherwise be occupied, if you wish, by a VIP en suite. At the other end of the hull, an enormous tender garage can accommodate a substantial RIB—there was a 14-foot 10-inch Williams 445 on board during our sea trial—along with a couple of personal watercraft.
This yacht is full of surprises, but perhaps nothing is quite as surprising as the upper deck, where the sole helm station is to be found, along with a seating area and a bar. On all sides, sliding windows can be raised to create a sheltered, upper saloon. Most ingenious, it’s the sort of feature you expect to find on a 100-meter superyacht, not a 100-footer.
This custom yard shows its sensitivity to the human scale with a saloon that is both spacious and intimate.
Arcadia takes pride in its yachts’ ecological credentials. But while there is an impressive acreage of photovoltaic cells all round the 100’s upper surfaces—some 500 square feet, or 50-kilowatts worth, enough to keep fridges, fans, and entertainment systems running while you sit at anchor in blissful, generator-free silence—there is no getting away from the fact that the engine room contains a pair of big V-8 diesels.
In common with her sisters, this new Arcadia sports an NPL-series hull designed to provide the best compromise of comfort and fuel efficiency in both displacement and semi-planing modes. Two-thousand horsepower is not a lot for a 100-ton motoryacht, but the engines met little resistance as we piled on the revs. With no obvious change in trim we were soon cruising along at slightly better than 16 knots, with the engines running about 100 rpm shy of their rated maximum and the engineers discussing finer-pitched props. There was also some vibration at 2200 rpm, which they were going to address after our trial.
An Arcadia is not about speed, of course. The shipyard expects most owners to be happy to cruise at 12 to 14 knots, and at this quiet, gentle pace the 100 not only feels extremely relaxed but can also boast an impressive cruising range.
A handling trial requires some energetic spinning of that huge carbon-fiber steering wheel, but if you’re prepared to put in the work, the 100 will turn quite willingly. With the automatic trim turned off during my sea trial, there was a slight but not especially noticeable tendency for the boat to heel outboard, and while the forefoot doesn’t look particularly fine, it did an efficient job of ironing out the few waves we could find.
Arcadia’s new motoryacht promises to be as comfortable under way as at anchor. Stunning design and quality finish combine to create a vessel with real depth and character, one that will be a pleasure to be aboard, even on an extended cruise.
Setting up a new shipyard is never easy, and perhaps especially not in the Bay of Naples. But Arcadia seems content to brush off the difficulties it can’t control and focus on those it can—building utterly distinctive motoryachts that deliver.
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature: 79°F; humidity: 64%; seas: 1'
Load During Boat Test
790 gal. fuel, 235 gal. water, 20 persons.
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/1,000-hp MAN V8-1000
- Transmission/Ratio: ZF 550A, 2.96:1 reduction ratio
- Props: 5-blade NiBrAl, 46.25 x 35.4
This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.