For siblings Jasmine Chong and Jason Tabalujan, creating an Indonesian yacht was a way to cope with the lockdown and placate their longing to reunite with family and friends in their native country.
“Celestia was born from that desire to come together, so there’s an element of home, or rather, a space where you can immerse in nature with people who feel like home,” Chong told Travel + Leisure, referring to the 178-foot custom boat whose name translates to “heavenly” in Latin.
Handcrafted by Bugis boatbuilders, known for their master shipbuilding skills, Celestia combines UNESCO-recognized building traditions with sophisticated design and high-end amenities. The vessel, expected to make its inaugural trip in 2023, will offer guests bespoke experiences and itineraries ranging from week-long charter trips in the Komodo area to two-week sailings to Raja Ampat and the Maluku Islands. Together with chef-prepared meals, travelers will also enjoy water sports, bird-watching, island hopping, nature hikes, stargazing, and wellness treatments.
Celestia, which was designed by Cape Town-based Deirdre Renniers and engineered by naval architect Tresno Seery, features seven spacious, air-conditioned cabins that sleep up to 14 guests.
To honor their Indonesian heritage, Chong and Tabalujan insisted on the yacht having a traditional phinisi design, which features a schooner with two masts and seven sails.
“There’s a sense of majesty sailing the Indonesian archipelago and the many isolated islands that dot the waters in a vessel rich with Indonesian tradition and heritage,” Chong added.
The duo commissioned a remote shipyard in Bulukumba that specializes in phinisi boats. The only problem? “This small boatbuilding community is only accessible after a 2.5-hour flight from Indonesia’s capital, followed by a five-hour journey through narrow one-lane roads,” Chong explained.
“Many things can be done over Zoom, but building a 178-foot vessel from scratch and evaluating space considerations is something that required many long trips,” she added.
And while the yacht’s exterior reflects the centuries-old shipbuilding traditions of their ancestors, the interior is all about modern amenities and comfort. The en suite bathrooms in each cabin feature seat warmers and Villeroy & Boch finishings. The upper deck cabins have floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies with panoramic views, and guests can watch their favorite shows in the spacious living room equipped with a flat-screen TV.
The timeless color palette consists of soft blue, natural stone, and woven rattan in earthy tones, complemented by brass accents. It’s inspired by old world glamour and Chong and Tabalujan’s favorite spots in New York City.
“The interior design is rooted in quiet sophistication, allowing nature and the immaculate surroundings to shine while still drawing upon the romance of subtle glamour and detailing,” Chong explained. “Working with renowned yacht interior designer Deirdre Renniers, we’ve drawn from the wealth of Indonesian talent, commissioning Balinese artisans and sourcing furniture from emerging Indonesian designers that we’ve admired and followed for a while.”
As Celestia is about bringing people together, it also features plenty of hangout spots. The main and upper decks have spacious seating areas, while the bowsprit lounge doubles as a daybed with stunning views.
You can book your trip aboard Celestia here.