Ritz-Carlton to enter luxury cruise market with three yachts

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The Ritz-Carlton has announced it will become the first hotelier to enter the cruise market with plans to launch three luxury yachts.

The brand, part of Marriott International, has secured financial backing from Oaktree Capital Management to launch The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. The financials around the deal have not been disclosed and Marriott would not comment on rumours that Oaktree had invested $200 million.

The first of the three 292-passenger and 149-suite yachts will launch in quarter four of 2019. Every suite will have a balcony and the ship is being designed in collaboration with design specialist Tillberg Design of Sweden.

Itineraries will go on sale in May 2018.

The second ship is due to follow in quarter one of 2021 and the third ship is expected to set sail in early 2022. The brand has not revealed where the ships are being built.

In a statement, Ritz Carlton said itineraries were being developed with intentions to combine stays at The Ritz-Carlton’s luxury resorts with cruises, which will range in length from seven to 10 days.

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The Ritz-Carlton yachts will feature a restaurant by Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg. Other features will include a signature Ritz-Carlton Spa; a Panorama Lounge and wine bar.

The first ship will sail the Mediterranean, northern Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America, with a mix of overnight stays in port and daytime calls in destinations such as Portofino and St Barts.

Maritime veterans Douglas Prothero and Lars Clasen have been appointed joint managing directors.

Their team will be made up of Victor Cai, formally chief financial officer at Silversea; Erik Bredhe, who has taken on the role of joint managing director for the yacht brand, alongside Lars Clasen, maritime consultant, and formerly captain of residence at sea The World.

A “world class team from luxury cruise” is currently being recruited, the brand said.

Prothero and Clasen said: “The Ritz-Carlton is known for its legendary service and high standards. We are delighted to collaborate with The Ritz-Carlton as our hospitality operator in offering the most exclusive yachting experience to be found at sea in a venture that will give new meaning to curated luxury travel.”

Herve Humler, president and chief operating officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, said: “The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will have a distinctive personality and the vessels are sure to be true stand outs in some of the most glamorous ports around the world.

“This unique combination of yachting and cruising will usher in a new way of luxury travel for guests seeking to discover the world in a relaxed, casually elegant and comfortable atmosphere with the highest level of personalized service.”

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Venice Cruise Traffic Plateaus For Now

Ongoing vessel tonnage restrictions in Venice have capped cruise traffic for now, with a limit of 96,000 tons. In 2017 the classic Italian port is looking at a forecast of 473 calls and just over 1.4 million passengers, which is down from 2016. Next year looks set to be similar to 2017, according to a port spokesperson.

Meanwhile, government officials are still working to lock down an alternative route for larger ships to reach the port facilities.

New callers in 2017 include the AIDAblue, the Artemis, Norwegian Star, Silver Muse, Seabourn Encore, Arethusa, and both the Viking Sky and Sun.

The board of directors for VTP (the port authority) agreed earlier this year not to adjust berth fees in order to help foster growth.

Future growth will need to depend on the identification and availability of a new alternative route for ships to reach port facilities – thus allowing large ships to use Venice again. The port spokesperson also told Cruise Industry News that they want to increase their week-day call portfolio. VTP offers 10 terminal choices.

Yao Ming and Ye Li to Name Majestic Princess

Majestic Princess in Singapore
Majestic Princess in Singapore

Carnival Corporation and Princess Cruises announced today that Yao Ming and his wife, Ye Li, will serve as “Inaugural Cruise Ambassadors” for Princess Cruises in China and officially name the new Majestic Princess during a ceremony in July.

The inaugural festivities will take place aboard Majestic Princess in Shanghai on July 9, as the culmination of weeks of celebrations, upholding maritime traditions, as well as featuring traditional Chinese, contemporary Chinese, and western-inspired cultural performances taking place between Rome and Xiamen, according to a statement from Princess

“It is a great honor that Yao Ming and Ye Li have graciously accepted our invitation to officially name Majestic Princess and serve as the Inaugural Cruise Ambassadors at our celebration welcoming our newest ship to China,” said Jan Swartz, President of Princess Cruises. “Yao Ming is globally recognized for his success in China and the United States, truly embodying the ‘East meets West’ spirit of our international cruise line.”

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Yao Ming and his wife, Ye Li, were both born in Shanghai and were both team members of China’s national basketball teams.

“We are honored to serve as the Inaugural Cruise Ambassadors for Princess Cruises and officially name the new Majestic Princess,” said Ming. “I’m inspired that Princess Cruises also cares so deeply about youth development in China and appreciate their support of our foundation. We look forward to enjoying a future vacation aboard Majestic Princess, China’s newest cruise ship.”