The belgian Royal Family’s former luxury Yacht now cruises around the Balearic Islands
When Carlos Samblas discovered it in the Guadalquivir River, on the docks of Seville, it was difficult to imagine that behind its rickety structure was the former glittering pleasure boat originally built for the Belgian Royal Family to enjoy on their holidays, and that in the first years of its life it would also used by a large part of the European royalty, from the Prince and Princess of Monaco, to the Spanish Royal family.
Let’s look at it step by step. The Falcao Uno, formerly the Falcao II, was built in the Dutch shipyard Feadship in 1965. The luxury pleasure cruiser was commissioned by the Belgian Royal Family, Baldwin and Fabiola, to use for their holidays. At that time very few royal households owned a yacht – for example in Spain, the Royal family didn’t purchase their yacht the Fortuna until 1979 – so that it was common that their enjoyment was alternated with other European monarchies in a kind of maritime time-sharing scheme.
The pleasure boat was commissioned by the kings of Belgium, Baldwin and Fabiola, to be able to dispose of it during the holidays
The studio of Van de Voorde was responsible for the design of this classic 26-metre yacht with a beam of 5.7. Absolutely no expense was spared for the build with only the very best materials used for the construction, the decoration and also in the equipment as confirmed by the engine room at the heart of this vessel, which boasts two Rolls Royce engines and four diesel tanks. The luxury yacht has crossed the Atlantic on several occasions, cruised to Northern Europe and throughout the Mediterranean, as well as part of Africa and the Caribbean. The Falcao Uno was built with 9 mm steel of top quality and strength steel originating from World War II tanks, which Belgium and Holland had purchased precisely for shipbuilding.
Although owned by the Belgian Royal Family, lots of celebrities were invited on-board as guests of the King and Queen. It then went on to have several subsequent owners – it is rumoured that Grace Kelly’s father was one of them. In 2011, with the help of some friends, Carlos Samblas located it in Seville, abandoned by a pier in the river. Carlos, who was born in 1975, hails from Mallorca and has been devoted to sailing both as a yacht captain and to the refit of boats for 20 years. In 2009 he decided to take the leap and purchase his first boat.
Mikael and Johanna Landström, owners of the Portixol Hotel and Restaurant and Palma Sport & Tennis Club, among other places, witnessed the passion Carlos felt towards the Falcao. They had already collaborated with Carlos on several occasions, and also fell in love with the yacht. They saw its potential and together they decided to give it a new lease of life. The charter yacht is now used for hosting all types of events and celebrations, thanks to its high capacity. It is the only yacht of its characteristics authorised to sail with up to 65 guests on board.
Nowadays the ‘Falcao Uno’ sails under the Spanish flag. The boat offers the possibility to host all kinds of activities with facilities that combine top-notch equipment and contemporary comfort with the charm and elegance of its heyday. It boasts a fully equipped galley and a large lounge with comfortable sofas and a bar, in addition to three spacious decks, one in the bow, another at the stern and a third on the upper deck. Not forgetting the cabins and the crew, which usually consists of a captain, two sailors and two chefs. The yacht reaches a maximum speed of 13 knots, although its average cruising speed is around 9 knots. In addition to being chartered for events and business incentives, it also has a long history as a floating venue for weddings and private parties.
The yacht, in addition to its charter function, and thanks to the commitment of its owners to society, is sent on voyages dedicated to environmental causes for long periods of time. It serves as an oceanographic vessel and works with a wide range of environmental organisations such as Save The Med, the Fundació Palma Aquarium, Cleanwave and Greenpeace, all related to the Mediterranean’s seabed.
A curious feature on-board is the collection of metopes of the royal house and all the ships of the Spanish Navy on display in the main lounge.
Historically, when an admiral or a ship-owner visited the yacht, they brought with them a gift of a bronze plaque as a sign of respect.
The boat is currently moored in the Port of Palma, on Marina La Lonja, where it departs from.
For more information visit: www.falcaouno.com