When you’re one of the richest men in the world, you must own a giant, custom superyacht. It’s obvious today and it was true back in the 19th century. J.P. Morgan Senior owned not just one, but three luxury vessels named Corsair, over the years.
The first one was bought as a 185-foot (56 meters) steamship, while the following ones were commissioned by Morgan, and much bigger. All of them got plenty of attention from the media at the time, but the final Corsair would top them all.
At first, its carefree days of luxury cruising were interrupted by WWII, when it was forced to become a patrol ship, like most privately-owned yachts those days. The funny thing is that it served for the British Admiralty instead of the U.S. Navy, for reasons that are mysterious to this day.
After the war, it looked like the good times were back. Corsair IV was once again up for glamorous travels, although as a cruise ship, not a private yacht. It flaunted its distinguished silhouette all the way to Mexico and Alaska. But that didn’t last long. The famous luxury yacht met a tragic end, sinking off Acapulco, after it hit a rock. It was only 1949.
Although the original Corsair IV was lost, it would be resurrected decades later, under a different form. Another wealthy yacht enthusiast wanted to own an exact replica of the famous classic yacht. It was Neil Taylor, the millionaire founder of a computer game retail group, in the 1990s.
Because he couldn’t find a classic yacht that could be rebuilt to look like the Corsair IV, Taylor took matters into his own hands and commissioned a new yacht with these specifications. It’s no surprise that the replica of the most famous yacht built in the U.S. was made in China. But it came from a reputable shipyard, Yantai Raffles, and turned out to be highly popular.
This is how Nero was born, the 296-foot (91 meters) contemporary version of the Corsair IV. The modern classic made its debut in 2008 and went on to win several awards, including “Best Motor Yacht Over 75m” at the ShowBoat International Design & Innovation Awards.
Nearly a decade ago, in 2014, Nero would change ownership. It still belongs to a billionaire, but this time it’s Denis O’Brien, a media magnate and one of the wealthiest men in Ireland, who allegedly purchased it for $70 million. O’Brien wanted to refresh the classic replica’s look, so Nero undertook a comprehensive, nine-month refit in 2016.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the modern classic. Three years after the refit, Nero was involved in a dry-docking incident, leaving a few crew members with minor incidents. At the time, it was undergoing maintenance work at the Amico & Co. yard in Genoa, Italy. Due to the damage, O’Brien’s yacht was out of service for a while, having to interrupt its successful charter operations.
Finally, after a second extensive refit in 2021, The Corsair IV replica emerged once again on the charter market, with all the bells and whistles. It costs $500,000 to spend one week onboard this beauty, but charter customers are in for a treat. Nero is not just a head-turner, but also packed with all the luxuries and fun features you can think of.
Personally, I find that an abundance of water toys and cruise ship-like amenities make superyachts look tacky. Especially in the case of classic yachts or modern classics like Nero, inflatable waterslides and fully-packed gyms seem out of place. Yet, this is what folks are paying hundreds of thousands for.
It also claims to offer the most secure Wi-Fi available onboard yachts, plus upgraded entertainment systems. Guests can stream their favorite shows, watch movies in the open air, get pampered by the expert crew, or even play golf. The vast spaces onboard are full of private lounges and larger areas for socializing and dining, either indoors or al-fresco.
Up to 12 guests can be accommodated onboard Nero, across six cabins, with the master suite being extra fancy (it includes his-and-her bathrooms, a sumptuous study, and access to a private lounge). Hardwood flooring, handmade carpets, and exquisite furnishings throughout, are some of the things that evoke the Corsair IV’s Golden Era glamour.
Today, the classic replica is in great shape, ready to put its twin 2,333 HP Caterpillar engines to work. At a cruising speed of 14 knots (16 mph/26 kph), Nero can travel for 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km), enough to explore the Mediterranean. Although its mix of classic elegance and crowd-pleasing entertainment can be a bit odd, Nero is still the way in which the legendary Corsair IV lives on. And for that, we must be grateful.