Superyachts run by Marriott brand Ritz-Carlton are setting the pace in a new segment. If you're short on ideas for Valentine's Day, now's the time to drop a hint.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection‘s first ship, Evrima, saw sold-out bookings in its first summer at sea, so the brand’s executives are now discussing further fleet expansion.
The luxury brand will see the maiden voyage of its second ship, Ilma, in the second half of this year. Last month, it began taking reservations for its third ship, Luminara, which is set to sail in 2025.
Here are seven facts about The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.
1. These superyachts aim to take service to a higher level than the standard luxury cruise liner.
- Sailings have typical fares of $21,000 a couple per weeklong journey in the high season.
- The so-called superyachts are, by definition, smaller than your typical ocean-going cruise ship. The Ilma, for instance, has only 224 suites. Sister ship Evrima is roughly two football fields long.
- Each suite is at least 1,000 square feet and has a private terrace.
- The Ilma will have a staff ratio of roughly one onboard employee for every guest.
- All meals are a la carte and complimentary. (There are no buffets at Ilma’s five restaurants, of course.) Moët & Chandon is free wherever you need it on this all-inclusive ship.
- While the ship’s costs are all-inclusive, even high-net-worth travelers face upsells and cross-sells. A children’s program offers activities for additional fees. The Ritz Spa includes treatments at extra cost, such as a facial treatment that somehow includes diamond dust.
2. Creating a new category of superyacht cruising worth $5 billion a year
So far, about half the passengers on Evrima have been taking a cruise for the first time. So the sector may not cannibalize the existing luxury cruise business — with players like Windstar, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 7, Silverseas’ Silver Endeavour, and Seabourne’s Venture.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection was the first to sea. However, it has competition in the emerging luxury yacht cruise segment it has pioneered.
Four Seasons, Aman Resorts (with Cruise Saudi), and Accor’s Orient Express have all recently taken steps to debut superyachts of their own.
Analysts estimate we’re seeing the creation of a $5 billion-a-year luxury yacht cruise market.
3. The second vessel, Ilma, will have its maiden voyage in September
The collection’s second ship, Ilma, will depart with its first 448 paying passengers on September 2, with a seven-night cruise from Monte Carlo to Civitavecchia (Rome). Fares start at $6,800 a person.
From there, Ilma will take a second week-long sailing to the Greek port of Piraeus.
It will seasonally switch between the Mediterranean and Caribbean, with select ports of call in Central America and South America, depending on the itinerary.
4. Executives are talking about an IPO for The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
Jim Murren, the former chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, became the CEO of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection in April. Murren has floated the idea of an initial public offering for the collection within a few years.
To credibly go public, the organization must generate enough cash flow and earnings to self-fund its fleet expansion.
Self-sufficiency is some years off. The current ownership structure includes Oaktree Capital Management (55%), Mohari Hospitality (30%), and Singapore (15%).
They’ve needed to seek financing in the debt market, such as for its recent and ongoing effort to raise hundreds of millions to add to its fleet of superyachts, Bloomberg reported.
5. Evrima’s review scores are up
As with any new hospitality launch, guests had constructive critiques about the services and amenities in the first voyages of the Evrima.
In recent months, the brand added 10 more staff people (and crew cabins) to improve service and added an improved internet connection for passengers via Elon Musk’s Starlink.
Guest satisfaction scores have been higher on its most recent sailings, as have its guest “intent to recommend” scores.
About one in eight passengers have booked a second trip so far, the company said.
6. Potential climate impact
The company hasn’t published sustainability data. But cruise ships can emit significant emissions.
An estimate by the Marine Program at the International Council on Clean Transportation found that a typical U.S. cruise ship that sails 1,200 miles will emit roughly twice the number of greenhouse gases per passenger as a stay at a trip including a four-star U.S. hotel plus economy-class flights.
The company said the Evrima intends to reduce emissions by operating on four dual-fuel engines with liquified natural gas, which generally have a lower impact than other options, and that the ship can be retrofitted when more sustainable fuel options become practical.
7. Plans are to add Asia Pacific itineraries as the fleet expands.
The world’s fastest-growing cruise market is in Asia Pacific. So it’s unsurprising that the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is considering stationing its upcoming fourth and fifth ships in Asian Pacific waters.
Executives recently said they may create multiple brands within the collection, with ships having different capabilities and themes.
They see the fleet reaching between eight and 10 yachts on the ocean by 2030.
All of the superyachts are also available for private charters, such as for corporate parties and retreats, award events, or birthday parties.
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Photo credit: Aerial drone view of guests dining on the marina terrace over water on the Evrima luxury yacht cruise ship. Source: The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection