Luxury hotelier Ritz-Carlton is getting into the cruise business, commissioning three new luxe vessels for a sea venture that is expected to make a splashy debut late in 2019.
Don’t expect to be roughing it, of course. Maritime experts Douglas Prothero and Lars Clasen are involved, in voyages that will range from seven to 10 days. Tillberg Design of Sweden will produce a small-capacity vessel that will carry nearly 300 passengers in 149 suites, all with private balconies.
The first of the three ships will launch in the fourth quarter of 2019. The company is dubbing them “yachts,” but at the length of two football fields, the vessels will more likely resemble small cruise ships.
Look for destinations to include the Mediterranean, northern Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America. The vessel’s comparatively diminutive size — 632 feet long — makes port access easier, according to Marriott International, parent company of Ritz-Carlton. Overnight and daytime ports of call are planned.
Boutique cruises are nothing new. Small-scale, curated “yacht cruises” have been offered for years. But the glamour of the Ritz-Carlton badge, combined with three new ships, would seem to up the ante in the industry’s battle for high-paying guests.
The company has not released prices. But a future competitor, the yacht Crystal Esprit, offers a seven-night sail from Athens to Dubrovnik, departing Oct. 1, beginning at $11,760 (although the line has also offered a $5,580 “book now” price).
Ritz-Carlton currently operates more than 90 hotels and 40 residential properties in more than 30 countries and territories.
Reservations will open in May 2018.