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Largest Motor Yacht In Australasia Launched

Media release
15 October, 2000


The largest motor yacht of its kind to be built in Australasia slipped into the waters of the upper Waitemata harbour this morning.

The Aria, a 156 foot luxury superyacht, built for American owner Robert E. Milhous, was launched following a champagne breakfast for international guests at the Sensation Yachts boatyard in Henderson.

The multi-million dollar superyacht has taken over two years to complete, involved more than 400 staff and taken an estimated 480,000 man hours to build.

Sensation Yachts Managing Director Ivan Erceg says the completion of Aria is a huge accomplishment for all the staff.

“The launch of Aria this morning was an important event for Sensation Yachts as this is the largest motor yacht we have ever built.

“Designed and built to the owner’s specific needs and requests, Aria was a challenge for everyone involved and the results speak for themselves. For the owners, Aria is more than a boat, it is a piece of art, a display piece, which will be seen around the world.”

The interior of the boat, designed by Don Starkey, includes the use of rare yellow cirrus timber and burled eucalyptus throughout. The owner’s interest in the mechanics of the boat is reflected in the mounting of the two engines which are display pieces in themselves, making extensive use of stainless steel piping.

Other features include a glass dining table on the upper deck which acts as a skylight to the deck below as well as individually themed bedrooms based on famous Aria.

Bob and Gail Milhous intend to sail the boat all around the world but it is likely to visit New Zealand ports first before heading off to other South Pacific destinations. The boat will have a full time crew of up to 12.

Following the launch of Aria this morning, the boat will be moored at Viaduct Harbour for a six week period while it undergoes sea trials and a final interior fit out.

Sensation Yachts has been building boats for almost 20 years and recently built Mari Cha III, a 44 metre sailing ketch that was awarded the prestigious International Super Yacht Design Award in 1998.

The company has experienced exceptional growth since Ivan Erceg’s investment in the company three years ago and now employs over 400 staff from an initial base of 100.

The company has a number of superyacht orders on its books including two more large motor yachts (45-51m) currently under construction.


For further information please contact:
Mark Street Sally Frewin
Phone: 021 726 993 025 919 818


Aria Principal Characteristics:

Type: Luxury Medium Displacement Twin Screw Motor Yacht
LOA: 156 feet
Beam: 29.6 feet
Draft (half load): 7 feet
Displacement (half load): 260 tonnes
Cruising speed: 22 knots, max 24 knots
Range: 5,000 nautical miles at 12 knots
Propulsion Twin Screw Caterpillar 2,650 hp marine diesels

The Aria is the largest motor yacht of its kind to be built in Australasia. Comprising an aluminium hull and built to the exacting specifications of the owner, the superyacht is designed to cruise the world in full air conditioned comfort.

Aria is complete with all the electronic equipment you would expect from a boat of this caliber including GPS, colour plotter and sounder, radar, Gyro, autopilot, weather fax and NAVTEC receiver. Other equipment includes a full business centre of computer, phone, fax, modem, photocopier and laser printer. Satellite TV, VHS and audio systems are available in every bedroom.

With interior design by Don Starkey, the theme and style of the boat is one of contemporary elegance, based on the individual tastes of the owners. One of the main features of Aria is the use of rare yellow cirrus timber and eucalyptus throughout the boat.

Stepping on board Aria to the main deck, guests enter an extensive foyer area of glass and cirrus timber with marble flooring. A central stairwell leads downstairs to the well appointed accommodation designed for the enjoyment of up to eight guests.

A choice of four guest bedrooms, each with their own ensuite, have individualised themes reflecting the boat’s name. Guests have access to a mini bar, TV, video and audio systems from their room.

Crew quarters forward of the quest accommodation includes a fully equipped crew kitchen, commercial laundry, walk in chiller, crew accommodation and living area. A multi-system TV, video monitoring security system, full audio system and a separate crew staircase to the upper levels complete the area.

Back up on the main deck, the large dining room provides for formal entertaining and a separate salon offers relaxed surroundings. Two hundred DVD’s are available on demand through the exceptional entertainment system which, amongst other things, includes a pop up plasma screen TV.

The boat is serviced by a fully equipped commercial galley to create world class culinary fare and supported by pantry and kitchen areas on the other levels for ease of service.

The owner’s large stateroom at the front of the main deck is tastefully decorated to their customised specifications. The area features a full business centre, lobby, dressing area, large amounts of storage and two bathrooms. Expansive windows have been designed to ensure the owners can enjoy the views from their bed should they wish. Luxurious bathroom facilities include a large spa bath and shower with two marble top vanities complemented by unique golden honey onyx marble throughout.

The upper deck features an outdoor seating area including a unique glass table that acts as a skylight through to the main deck below. Through self opening doors into the salon, guests can enjoy the room’s full multimedia capabilities from the comfort of well-appointed seating featuring NZ and Australian leathers.

For those feeling a little more energetic, a gym complete with separate bathroom and dressing areas is available. If necessary, the equipment can be stored discretely away to transform the gym into another guest cabin.

The captain’s cabin, radio room and bathroom facilities are also located on this deck just behind the bridge area which utilises remote keypad technology and includes two ‘wing stations’ port and starboard for easy maneuvering.

The sun deck features a large outdoor barbecue, bar and seating area as well as a multi-jet spa pool that overlooks the decks below. Guests have a range of outdoor teak furniture, chairs and chaise lounge from which to enjoy the summer sun.

The Aria houses two 5.5 metre tenders and water toys which are transported in and out of the lazarette by crane for quests’ enjoyment.


For almost 20 years, Sensation Yachts has been building a reputation for quality and cost effectiveness. Three years ago Ivan Erceg became a full partner in Sensation New Zealand and went on to purchase the company in full. At the time, the company was finishing Mari Cha III, a magnificent ketch that was awarded the prestigious International Super Yacht Design Award in 1998.

Ivan Erceg has invested significant resources into Sensation Yachts to make it a world class facility. The factory has been constantly upgraded, adjacent property purchased and two new boat building bays constructed.

Staff numbers have increased dramatically from 100 to more than 400 employees in the last few years to cope with the dramatic increase in boat orders. The company now has a number of superyacht orders on its books with two more large motor yachts (45-51m) currently under construction.

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