The Savarona is the largest non-royal yacht ever built. Her length overall is 446' (136m),
her beam 52.6' (16m), her draft 20' (6.1m) and her maximum speed is 18 knots, cruising speed 16 knots. Her 17 luxurious suites, in addition to the master suite, average 538 square feet (50m²) in area.
The Savarona was commissioned by Mrs. Emily Roebling Cadwallader, granddaughter of John Roebling, the engineer who built the Brooklyn Bridge. Mrs. Cadwallader had the Savarona built at a cost of $4 million at the Blohm and Voss shipyards in Hamburg in 1931.
The Savarona sailed Atlantic, Mediterranean, and South African waters, but Mrs. Cadwallader could not take her to the United States of America because of potentially confiscatory import duties. She decided to sell the yacht, and in 1938, the Savarona was bought by the Turkish Government.
The chain of events leading to this purchase is amusing. In 1936, King Edward VII visited Istanbul, and was the guest of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on the then state yacht, the Ertuğul. Soot from the funnel so dirtied His Majesty's white flannels that Atatürk sent the Ertuğul to be scrapped and ordered a search for a new presidential yacht. The Turkish flag was hoisted on the Savarona in Southampton in March 1938.
The yacht arrived in Istanbul two months later, after some brief refurbishment, by which time Atatürk was terminally ill. During the six weeks that he spent on the Savarona, cabinet meetings were held on board, and important guests included King Carol of Rumania and other heads of state. Atatürk passed away on November 10, 1938 in Dolmabahçe Palaca.
The Savarona did not sail again until after World War II, when the Turkish Navy started to use her as a training ship. In 1989 a decision was made to scrap her, however, Mr. Kahraman Sadikoglu obtained a last-minute stay of execution, leased the yacht for 49 years, and begun the arduous task of refurbishing the Savarona to more than her former glory. For almost three years 425 men worked to refit the yacht, whose interior was designed by Donald Starkey. Today, the Savarona is once again sailing the waters of the world, bringing an experience of elegance and luxury to those who are so privileged as to be her passengers.