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.
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.”