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Columbus' Prima: Spot On!

Among the pleasant surprises at the fall shows was the 177-foot Prima, or “first” in Italian. It was an appropriate name for the trideck the Palumbo shipyard displayed in Monaco, since it was its first-ever luxury yacht.


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The Palumbo group of companies, named after the family that runs the business in southern Italy, is not a newcomer. In fact, the shipyard dates back to 1967. Historically, the business headed by President Antonio Palumbo has focused on refit, maintenance and conversion projects. Palumbo has several locations: Naples (Palumbo Spa’s headquarters), a shipyard in Messina and, since winning a bid in June 2010, the company has taken over the operation of the formerly publicly run Malta Shipyards under the name Palumbo Malta Shipyard.

Prima is a remarkable yacht, not only as the first yacht of a series but as an impressive achievement for any experienced builder on multiple levels. Attractive and functional, she earned RINA’s Green Star Plus Platinum certificate, which Prince Albert of Monaco and King Juan Carlos delivered at the Monaco Yacht Show.

The interior by Tommaso Spadolini (who also was involved with the impressive Numptia featured in these pages) unfolds gracefully in a logically laid-out and voluminous interior, courtesy of the yacht’s nearly 33-foot beam. The décor is best described as contemporary classic with an appropriate mix of dark and light wood, marble and pleasant symmetry. Neither inside nor out is the yacht extreme design-wise, and that was a conscious choice on the part of all involved: the shipyard and the designers, including Spadolini and Sergio Cutolo of Hydro Tec, responsible for the exterior styling and the steel-hulled yacht’s naval architecture. But this does not mean the design is boring or lacking in any way.

“This is not an exercise in style or extravagance,” says Giuseppe Palumbo, Antonio’s son and general manager of the Naples yard where the yacht was built. The focus of the yacht, like the rest of the series that the shipyard has developed under the Columbus Yachts moniker, is onboard comfort. The series includes three platforms for six yachts up to 245 feet (74 meters), a 120-foot explorer and a 238-foot Global Explorer marketed in the United States by Denison Yachts’ Alex Clarke. In Monaco, Palumbo also signed a contract for a 130-foot vessel with hybrid propulsion.

“The series was developed in response to a strong demand of the market and the yacht owner,” Giuseppe Palumbo says. Whatever innovation there is, it is not there for innovation’s sake, but to deliver onboard comfort, including the user-friendly iPads that control music, air conditioning and lights. The warm lights and music pouring through well-concealed speakers help create an ambiance that is inviting.

From a substantial aft deck, you step into a wide-open salon with nothing obstructing the view all the way to the back bulkhead, decorated here with an attractive piece of artwork by a Neapolitan artist. Intelligently placed furniture—such as white sofas, tables with leather and stainless-steel details and patterns of marble and wood—define the spaces appropriate for cocktail hour, lounging, TV viewing or dining. Moving forward through a door that opens silently at the touch of a button, you enter a great lobby and farther forward a vast owner’s apartment. An office/library with a view comes first. Then moving forward is access to a private balcony. Here again the doors open automatically and silently to allow you to step outdoors. The space is large enough for two comfortable chairs and a small table, or a couple of lounging chairs at the owner’s choice. The bedroom is full beam. There are two bathrooms with Jacuzzi tubs and plenty of white Carrara marble. The four guest suites on the lower deck are a bit smaller, of course, but feature very similar comfort. In addition to the pleasant décor and spacious bathrooms, they have good natural lighting in daytime thanks to well-sized portholes. The details are impressive here, too, from the textured-leather finish on cabinet doors to Venetian blinds with slats in stitched leather. An additional VIP, located on the bridge deck, has full-size windows and a spacious bathroom with another Jacuzzi tub.

The voluminous skylounge is perfect for entertaining with a large cinema screen coming down from the ceiling, a bar, game table and comfortable lounging area. It opens out to a big aft deck with exterior dining and a couple more sun pads. The sun deck is divided into three areas: the sunbathing area aft, an entertainment and dining area centrally located under the shade of the radar arch, and the forward Jacuzzi.

A larger tender and two Jet Skis fit in a big garage accessible from the hefty swim platform. The engine room is impressive in its layout and finish. The two powerful MTU engines propel the steel yacht, equipped with a bulbous bow, to a top speed of up to 18 knots. At a more economical speed, the range is up to 5,000 nautical miles. While not extravagant, the exterior lines are attractive and feature nice details, such as a gracefully curved overhang above the wing stations. With these credentials, Prima will have followers. How do you say “Second” in Italian? ■

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