Whilst we understand how disappointing this must have been for those whose bookings were affected, this is by no means the first time a cruise ship - or indeed a luxury hotel - has been delivered later than originally anticipated. Whilst major yards such as Fincantieri are able to churn out vessels consistently to a reliable timetable, using many pre-fabricated modules in the process, an original new build from a yard without experience of building cruise ships often encounters challenges.
A cruise ship build is complex and costly, and the construction is highly reliant upon a network of specialised suppliers. There is huge demand for yard space, so many shipbuilders with experience of building merchant or naval ships see an opportunity to enter the market, and then find it is not quite as straightforward as it initially appeared. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries had its corporate fingers badly burnt during the process of building ships for AIDA, the Uljanik yard in Croatia floundered through severe financial difficulties before finally delivering the much delayed Scenic Eclipse, and the agreement between SeaDream Yacht Club and Damen shipyard foundered before it had even got underway.
Current builds have been hampered by supply chain and staffing issues, but finally things seem to be getting back to normal. Having said that, Ritz-Carlton has placed orders for its next two vessels at a far more experienced and reliable yard, Chantiers de l'Atlantique in St Nazaire in France. The two new ships, Ilma and Luminara, scheduled for delivery in 2024 and 2025, will be slightly larger, carrying up to 456 guests each.
Evrima's programme of itineraries stretches through to November 2024 and over the next two years she will spend time in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Central America, Canary Islands and Bermuda, with a focus on leisurely voyages and overnights in port. Journeys are a relatively short 7-10 days, so the experience is similar to staying at a Ritz-Carlton land-based property, with plenty of opportunity to explore the local area, as well as to relax in the extremely comfortable surroundings. We certainly welcome the fact that the cooler weather cruises originally planned for the vessel have been withdrawn. With its al fresco style and extensive deck space, this vessel was definitely built for sunshine.
An extensive range of dining options includes something very special indeed, a specialty dining experience designed by Chef Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg. This sophisticated venue, S.E.A., will offer an exclusive tasting menu, and it's no surprise that there will be a surcharge to dine here (although it's worth mentioning that not all luxury competitors make a charge - another three Michelin-starred chef, Thomas Keller, has a restaurant on the Seabourn ships with nothing more to pay).
The spacious suites, 149 in all, range from the exclusive Owners Suite with 1,690 square feet of private space including an extensive terrace, to the novel two-level Loft Suites, to the entry-level accommodation with a generous 379 square feet. All will feature their own spacious terrace and guests will be looked after in the Ritz-Carlton signature manner, with 24-hour room service and a concierge to look after all arrangements.
Wellness is key, as you would expect with any Ritz-Carlton property, and a spacious Ritz-Carlton Spa offers rejuvenating treatments in ocean view rooms, as well as adjacent full-service Beauty Lounge, Gentleman's Grooming Salon, sauna, steam room and quiet zones.
The ship has extensive outdoor space and will be a perfect place to relax and watch the beautiful people anchored in a bay in the Caribbean or Mediterranean. Interestingly, unlike other luxury cruise vessels, but in keeping with The RitzCarlton® on land, each yacht will include dedicated space for Ritz Kids, so the family market will be well served.
Key personnel from the land-based collection have leapt at the opportunity to create this totally new product, so if you love Ritz-Carlton, Evrima should deliver everything you know and love about the company and more.
When we first introduced The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection way back in May 2018, we mentioned that this is not the first time that a hotel company has kicked at the door of the cruise industry. But this time the strategy has clearly paid off, with a high take-up in the inaugural season from loyal Ritz-Carlton aficionados. This worldwide extension of the Ritz-Carlton brand enables the company to extend the flag to places where there will never be a Ritz-Carlton hotel, and open up a yacht product to their hotel guests who might not normally consider a cruise.
Following in their footsteps, luxury hotel company Aman Resorts has announced Project Sama aiming to diversify its offering not only on land but also at sea with the creation of a 50-suite luxury motor yacht due to launch in 2025. Meanwhile Four Seasons plan to enter the market too, with a yacht already under construction at Fincantieri yard in Trieste. The project is being developed by Marc-Henry Cruise Holdings, and well known cruise industry veteran Larry Pimental is at the helm, aiming for a launch in 2025 and a capacity of some 190 guests.