Hotel and resort giant Ritz-Carlton is entering the $117 billion cruise market with the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection – and the emphasis is on exclusivity and luxury.
World-famous hotel and resort chain Ritz-Carlton has been offering guests luxury experiences in beautiful destinations for more than a century.
Now, the iconic brand aims to offer the luxury, comfort and security of an exclusive hotel on the high seas.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is the company’s first foray into the cruise market − unsurprisingly, the emphasis is on opulence.
“Recognising that some guests will choose to spend ample time in their suites, our aim is to provide them with a unique level of comfort aligned to the Ritz-Carlton tenets of luxury hospitality,” Douglas Prothero, co-managing director of the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, told World Cruise Industry Review.
The suite escape
The first of three ships in the collection, a $210 million, 298-passenger luxury cruise yacht, will launch in 2019. Furthermore, it is being designed by Tillberg Design in Sweden.
40% of the ship’s suites will be premium, twice that of most cruise liners.
“Each suite is designed to optimise the use of space and maximise contact with the sea,” Johansson says. “Suites will have a higher ceiling than what is normal in a cruise ship. We want to create a high-quality yet casual setting, whether relaxing in bed, on a chaise longue or on the private balcony.”
Entry-level suites are 29m² – not including the private balcony. In addition, two penthouse suites measure 100m² and boast 50m² balconies.
“They create a private space for each guest to intimately experience being at sea,” he says Fredrik Johansson, director of Tillberg Design. “The views will be unparalleled on these adventures and the balconies simply afford the most ideal way to capture these moments.”
Watch this space
The interior of the first ship in the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is spacious, but the vessel itself is relatively small. As a result, it can explore places that bigger cruise ships cannot.
Projected itineraries include Portofino, Capri, Mykonos and St Barths. In addition, the yachts will sail through the Saint Lawrence river into the Great Lakes in the US.
Design inspiration includes the crisp, contemporary look of the Ritz-Carlton Residences Sunny Isles, Miami Beach and Los Angeles.
“We have melded the spacious, and almost residential, feel of those locations with the marine and innovative design qualities of some of the world’s most stylish yacht interiors,” Johansson says. “In a way, you can say the yachts will be hotels at sea, though uniquely adapted to suit the yacht lifestyle.”
Mighty fine dining
On board, guests can expect an à la carte restaurant from Sven Elverfeld of the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Aqua. All the yachts will have spas designed and operated by the Ritz-Carlton.
Likewise, entertainment will offer intimacy with classical music, jazz and performers from itinerary destinations.
Ritz-Carlton anticipates the bulk of passengers coming from the US and European markets. However, it also aims to attract guests from as far afield as China and Japan.
“Yachts evoke luxury, exclusivity and the freedom to explore as one desires,” Prothero says, noting the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is “the next step for the brand’s evolution”.
Ritz-Carlton: good for business
In addition, Prothero says it is an exciting time to enter the luxury cruise market. The sector has grown 8.5% annually since 1981. Plus, global cruise passengers should grow by 4% annually from 2017 to 2020.
As such, the numbers point to a solid investment by Ritz-Carlton.
“We saw this as a brand extension with meaningful potential in a market where we could have a real impact,” Prothero says. “As with any new launch, there is always risk, but we feel that we have done our homework and are ideally positioned to succeed.”
Read the full feature on Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection in the latest edition of World Cruise Industry Review.
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