Cruise ships are often referred to as ‘floating hotels’. Strange then that the market is dominated by companies whose only job is to focus on cruise ships, and that the major multi-billion dollar hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott haven’t ever really got in on the idea.
Well that’s about to change as Marriott-owned Ritz-Carlton, one of the world’s top luxury hotel brands, launches a dedicated cruise line – the Yacht Collection. We took a look at what this exclusive 149-suite ship has to offer, apart from a hefty price tag, when it sets sail in early 2020.
For us, there are lots of reasons to avoid going on a cruise. Having never actually been on one, they are purely presuppositions on our part, but they go along the lines of:
- Assigned seating at set mealtimes, leading to awkward dinner conversations with your fellow cruise companions.
- Tight living quarters, often with no windows.
- Overpriced shore excursions.
- Expensive extras.
- Living your holiday to a fixed schedule.
- Paranoia over Norovirus outbreaks.
We are certainly no experts in this field. First and Business Class seats in the sky are our thing. Suites in hotels? Sure. Combine the whole experience on sea and for some reason, it just doesn’t “float our boat”.
If you’ve ever been on a cruise, or done any research into doing so, you’ll know there’s a wide variety of quality, perks and price points on offer in this US$35bn per year industry. In the next decade the sector is forecast to grow to annual worldwide revenues of US$57bn, a staggering increase.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
If you’re more accustomed to the luxury offered in Ritz-Carlton’s range of hotels and upscale resorts around the world, your opinion of cruising (and ours) might be about to change.
Unlike the mega cruises, which can easily accommodate 3,000 passengers including many in those windowless ‘interior rooms’ we spoke of, capacity on the Ritz-Carlton cruise will top out at 298 passengers in 149 suites, each with a private terrace.
The design is taken care of by renowned luxury cruise ship interiors firm Tillberg Design of Sweden.
Furnishings are based on the style found in Ritz-Carlton’s hotels, and you won’t find a big show lounge or casino on this ship. Instead small-scale performances are planned in fancy cocktail lounges.
Shore excursions are also set to differ from the cruise ship norm, tapping into the expertise of concierge teams at Marriott hotels in port, to provide a more personalised experience.
The yacht’s size will also allow it to access smaller ports directly, many of which are generally off limits to the larger cruise lines.
The cabins on cruise ships are traditionally called ‘staterooms’. Here again Ritz-Carlton is bucking the trend, referring to all the rooms on this ship as ‘suites’.
It’s a worthy description too – even the entry-level room features a 312 ft2 floorspace, around the size of an average ‘landed’ hotel room, with an additional 67 ft2 private ocean-view terrace.
The Terrace Suites
- Number on ship: 90
- Floorspace: 312 ft2
- Terrace space: 67 ft2
If 312 ft2 still sounds a bit on the small side, remember an entry-level inside room (with no windows) on your average cruise ship like Carnival or Royal Caribbean typically measures half that – just 130 to 180 ft2.
The Signature Suites
- Number on ship: 27
- Floorspace: 474 ft2
- Terrace space: 101 ft2
Here’s where significant space starts to come in – 50% more internal square footage than the Terrace Suite means a bathtub and separate toilet area now features, as well as a four-seat dining table and a 50% larger outdoor sea view terrace.
The Loft Suites
- Number on ship: 12
- Floorspace: 700 ft2
- Terrace space: 76 ft2
A two-storey option, the Loft Suites feature a bathroom and bedroom downstairs then a living and dining area on the upper floor with a private terrace.
The Grand Suites
- Number on ship: 14
- Floorspace: 635 ft2
- Terrace space: 108 ft2
Even bigger than the Signature Suites, these benefit from a larger terrace and dining area, and dual walk-in wardrobes in the bedroom.
The View Suites
- Number on ship: 4
- Floorspace: 571 – 624 ft2
- Terrace space: 86 – 97 ft2
While all the suites on board guarantee a sea view, these four take the concept one step further with floor to ceiling glass windows throughout.
The Owners Suites
- Number on ship: 2
- Floorspace: 1,098 ft2
- Terrace space: 592 ft2
Finally the top pair of suites on board, The Owners Suites are by far the largest and have a huge terrace with a private whirlpool.