THE RITZ-CARLTON IS ON THE VERGE of becoming the first luxury hotel chain to launch its own cruise line, The Ritz- Carlton Yacht Collection, combining the experience of private yachting with the range and deluxe facilities of premium ocean cruising. The first of its three 298-passenger mega-yachts (yet unnamed) will set sail Feb. 1, 2020, from Fort Lauderdale, two nights before Super Bowl LIV kicks off in nearby Miami.
The idea for a The Ritz-Carlton cruise line has floated around for a dozen years and in serious planning for the last four, with the keel now laid for the first brand-new vessel. For The Ritz-Carlton hotel guests, it is designed to be a nearly seamless transition from land to sea, complete with a luxury yacht’s more casual version of the hotel’s signature “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen” approach.
As the first “anti-cruise ship” is readied, we receive more extensive reports of what The Ritz-Carlton will offer passengers hoping to fuse the luxury lifestyle of a resort with the freedom of a yachting vacation. There will be nearly as many crew members as guests aboard. Each ship will be equipped with a helicopter, speed boat and marina on the stern. Restaurants and bars will be open around the clock with no set dining times. No casinos or buffet lines, either, just a seagoing version of the renowned The Ritz-Carlton spa. The ship’s five restaurants will be highlighted by Aqua, the same gourmet eatery under Chef Sven Elverfeld that garnered a 3-star Michelin rating at The Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg, Germany. All staterooms are suites featuring terraces and balconies.
In addition to meeting The Ritz-Carlton’s high standards in service and dining, the yachts will deliver quite leisurely 7- to 12-day cruises with fewer ports of call than usual and a choice of exceptional shore excursions. Guests can expect the likes of a private museum tour in Montenegro, a swim with the turtles in the Tobago Cays, sea kayaking adventures in Iceland, a winery tour in Bordeaux and sunrise and sunset yoga sessions on wellness cruises in the Grenadines.
The Ritz-Carlton’s inaugural cruises in the Caribbean will run February through March 2020, concluding with a 12-day trans-Atlantic crossing to Lisbon. The Ritz-Carlton mega-yacht will linger in the Mediterranean through July 5, then turn northward, exploring Northern Europe from London through Sept. 12. A second Atlantic crossing puts the ship in position to visit a series of Canadian and New England ports in the fall, ending with Boston. The Ritz-Carlton then returns to the Caribbean Oct. 27, completing its cycle of the Western Hemisphere.
Meanwhile, The Ritz-Carlton’s second oceangoing yacht plans to cruise the Great Lakes region in the summer of 2021, while a third sister ship will extend The Ritz-Carlton’s range to the Pacific beginning in 2022. Clearly for those without their own celebrity-style yacht, The Ritz-Carlton promises to provide the next best thing.
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