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Luxury hotels turn to cruising


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I am one of the few people in the cruise industry old enough to remember the excitement, back in the 80s, when Warren Titus, founder of the ultimate luxury cruise line of the day, Royal Viking Line, came up with a theory that given the top grade accommodation on the old Royal Viking Line ships always sold out first, then arguably a ship full of top grade accommodation would have appeal. In partnership with the Norwegian private investor Atle Brynstad, now owner of SeaDream Yacht Club, he reinvented luxury cruising, using the model of the casual, relaxed elegance previously available only to owners of the world's most fabulous private yachts, and Seabourn Cruise Line was born, the start of all-suite ultraluxury. The first sailing was on board Seabourn Pride in 1988.

Over the years, there have been a number of similar 're-set' moments in the industry, and we are at another one now, as a number of acclaimed high end hotel operators eye up the cruise industry with a similar decision mindset to that of Warren Titus all those years ago: surely those in a position to stay in the top grade accommodation of the luxury cruise lines - the penthouses and owners suites on offer at £2000 per person per day and more - would love the idea of a luxury yacht to suit their tastes? And at the same time hotel guests staying at the most exclusive hotels in the world would surely like to try the equivalent at sea?

Seabourn luxury service

Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection was first to the market with Evrima, in October 2022. When this long awaited yacht at last set sail, they carried a high proportion of guests taking their first holiday at sea - and they love it! With everything they would expect from a Ritz Carlton hotel - spacious accommodation, great dining options, elegant surroundings, intuitive service and a restorative spa - combined with the added bonus of moving from one stylish yacht haven to another, the yacht experience has exceeded expectations. The company obviously has confidence in its ability to deliver, with two further ships currently under construction for launch in 2024 and 2025.

Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection restaurant

A new Four Seasons is always exciting, and a Four Seasons at sea will be something else again. Currently under construction in Trieste, this yacht is scheduled to start service in late 2025 - the first of a fleet, so the company claims. Carrying 190 guests in custom designed suites, the focus will be on indoor/ outdoor space, and will feature some unique offerings such as a roomy four level suite of 9,600 square feet: significantly larger than anything currently on offer in the cruise industry. All will come with a hefty Four Seasons price tag of course.

Four Seasons Yacht

It is a long while since we first heard about Project Sama, a plan to build a superyacht to accommodate 100 guests, under the auspices of Neptune Co., a joint venture of the luxury Aman Group and Cruise Saudi. In theory, this will be the T. Mariotti shipyard's first dual-fuel powered newbuild, and is expected to enter service in 2026. The Aman brand has garnered an excellent reputation for superlative service, space and privacy, with properties at landmark sites around the world.

Project Sama - Aman

Meanwhile we hear news from the Accor group, owner of the Orient Express brand, that they will be creating the world's largest sailing ship, the Orient Express Silenseas. Not to be confused with Belmond's Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (the Belmond rebrand some years back related to a dispute about the use of the Orient Express name), French hospitality brand Accor has partnered with the Chantiers de l'Atlantique ship builder with this ambitious new technology, which may revolutionise future ship building. The experimental build will feature three SolidSail rigs, a revolutionary 1,500-square-metre unit wind propulsion system, for which Chantiers de l'Atlantique has developed and tested a first prototype.

Orient Express Silenseas
Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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