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Visitor To Caribbean Sees World's Biggest Yacht, Which Anchors Near Spielberg's 282-Foot Boat

The Eclipse is stunning, a real eyeful. It's just too big to be real. But it is.

The sleek, white mega-yacht is the world's largest and most expensive private yacht at 557 feet, or more than 1 1/2 football fields. It cost an estimated $1.2 billion and is the world's ultimate ultra-yacht.

Where's Robin Leach when you need him?

The yacht is owned by the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. He owns the Chelsea FC soccer team in England and earned his fortune in Russian oil and commodities.

The 44-year-old Abramovich is generally listed as the 50th richest person in the world.

The ship's features include two helicopter landing pads, a hangar for two helicopters, a 50-foot launch, a German missile-defense system, underwater motion-and-heat sensors and — if rumors are true — anti-paparazzi lasers to protect Abramovich's privacy.

No one seems to know whether such an anti-paparazzi shield really exists. According to English media, the Eclipse is equipped with lasers that sweep surroundings and when they detect a digital camera, they shine a bright light at the camera to prevent photographs.

The bridge and Abramovich's master suite are fitted with bulletproof glass and both are armor-plated. There are intruder-detection systems aboard.

Its 12-seat anti-piracy submarine would be launched through a hatch in the ship's hull and it could dive to about 160 feet.

Exactly what features the Eclipse may contain are difficult to say. The ship was built under great secrecy and many details have been widely reported but not confirmed.

I encountered the Eclipse in two Caribbean ports: Bridgetown on Barbados and Philipsburg on the Dutch side of the island of St. Maarten.

The ship is an awesome sight on the water. It says megabucks. It was a major topic of conversation among cruise ships in the Caribbean, leading to numerous Google searches by passengers.

It has guest cabins (most reports say 11 or 24), two swimming pools (one of which can be drained and converted into a ballroom for dancing), several hot tubs, a cinema, an aquarium, a library, a private garden, three dining rooms, a gym with sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, small medical clinic and a disco hall. There is a 6-foot cinema screen in each guest room.

The roof opens on the 5,000-square-foot master suite to allow Abramovich and girlfriend Daria Zhukova, a former model, to sleep under the stars, according to some reports.

The ship with its nine decks requires a crew of 70. It has a cruising speed of 22 knots and a maximum speed of 33 knots.

It surpasses the previous No. 1 private yacht in the world by 24.5 feet. That yacht, the Dubai, is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. It is now No. 2 at 532.5 feet. It was built in 2006.

The Eclipse weighs 14,330 tons and is 70.5 feet wide.

It was built in the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, from early 2007 to mid-2009, under great secrecy.

It was launched on June 12, 2009, tested in Denmark and Norway and delivered to Abramovich on Dec. 9, 2010.

There has been considerable debate on the exact length of the Eclipse, but the 557-foot measurement is generally accepted by Forbes and other publications. A few places list 533 feet. Abramovich's people won't comment.

The motor yacht is registered in Bermuda.

The Eclipse is the latest addition to Abramovich's private navy. He also owns the 163-foot Sussurro and the 374-foot Luna.

He gave his former yacht, Le Grand Bleu (the 18th-longest yacht in the world at 370 feet), to associate-friend Eugene Shvidler in 2006. He also sold the 282-foot Ecstasea to an Egyptian and gave the 377-foot Pelorus (No. 17 in the world) to ex-wife Irina in a 2007 divorce settlement.

Abramovich already owns the world's largest private jet, a Boeing 767 nicknamed the Bandit.

In St. Maarten, Abramovich's giant was anchored near Hollywood director Steven Spielberg's new boat, the 282-foot Seven Seas.

The director of "Jurassic Park," "Jaws" and the "Indiana Jones" movies acquired the sparkling blue yacht in late 2010 from a Dutch shipbuilder.

That boat, with a price tag of about $200 million, includes an infinity pool with a glass wall on which movies can be projected and a theater with a screen that is 15 feet by 6 feet.

It offers room for 12 guests along with an owner's suite, a study, a lounge and a private exterior deck with a whirlpool. It is rich with walnut, teak and rosewood.

The bottom of the swimming pool, when drained, can be shifted upward to become a helicopter landing pad.

Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw, were photographed on the boat around Christmas, jet skiing at St. Bart's in the Caribbean.

Spielberg's boat can travel at speeds of 20 knots and requires a crew of 26.

It is also available for charter: The reported price is $1.3 million a week.

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