The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has announced reservations are now open for the inaugural season of its Yacht Collection in 2020.
Voyages will range from seven to 10 nights and each itinerary is packed with programming unique to each destination.
The specially designed yacht measures 190 meters, accommodates up to 298 passengers and features 149 suites, each with its own private terrace. The yacht also has two 158 square- metre lavish Owner’s suites, each with its own private whirlpool.
PAX sat down with CEO Doug Prothero to find out more.
An interview with Doug Prothero
PNW: Why the move into the cruise market?
DP: It’s an area that Marriott has been looking at for quite a long time. Ritz-Carlton was quite excited at the opportunity to go into luxury cruising and bring the signature service of Ritz-Carlton to the cruise business as well as bring new meaning to curated luxury travel.
PNW: You’ve got 2 more ships in the works?
DP: We do. We’re working right now on two for 2021, so we’ve stepped up production a little bit, due to the overwhelming popularity. That’s what we have confirmed at the moment and we’re looking beyond that to see how many of these there should be.
PNW: Your itineraries are the Caribbean, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean and New England. Further down the road are you looking into Asia or the Middle East?
DP: Absolutely, we’re in sort of the classic cruise regions with these first two yachts, especially with the first one. The differentiator for us is to really the focus on smaller destinations, but also the yacht lifestyle, where we’re going at a slower pace.
As we expand the fleet, our plan is to have a series up the St. Lawrence River, all the way into the Great Lakes, all the way west to Chicago in the summer months.
And with yacht #3, it’s still on the drafting board in terms of where that itinerary will be, but we do plan to have one craft based in the Pacific.
Who's the target market?
PNW: What is your target demographic?
DP: We’re definitely looking for people who are experienced travellers, who are looking to go to places they’ve been before, but go in a different way. We also believe that we would appeal to “new-to” cruisers and we’re seeing that in big numbers.
PNW: Can you talk about the onboard experience?
DP: [We have] just under 300 guests and five dining venues that range from 3-star Michelin chef Sven Elverfeld’s concept restaurant through Asian fusion, a grille, which is sort of a surf and turf if you will, the main dining room, which is international cuisine, to a casual sports area near the Marina area.
PNW: What about entertainment?
DP: We’ll have a full time art concierge onboard to interpret the art that’s onboard, because our art program onboard will be like a gallery.
On the performing arts side, our program is focused on ensuring that we identify the top and emerging performing artists in the destination and that we bring them onboard to perform in our intimate venues.
What travel agents should know
PNW: Speaking of the Shore Collection, you have five different types of tours – Iconic Sights, Stirring The Senses, Active Explorations, Epicurean Experiences and /cultural Connections?
DP: Some people are planners and they want to know everything in advance, so we will have pre-programmed, pre-arranged tours, through the five series that we have in the shore collection.
We work closely with our Marriott luxury partners in hotels in the destinations in as many cases as we can, and we draw on those resources to create opportunities for our guests.
PNW: How are you are planning to work with the travel agent community?
DP: We have a dedicated travel portal, which is on our website and we have a very regular communication line going out to the trade, both through our roadshow programs, where we are travelling, literally all over the globe. We often get 400 to 600 travel agents showing up to our monthly webinars, so we’re getting great numbers and they are engaging with good questions, and they are booking.
PNW: Can you share three selling tips?
DP: Look in your database at the people who are not cruising - if you are dealing with a luxury traveller, they will like this.
If you’ve got loyalty members, especially anybody who is a Marriott member or Ritz-Carlton member, we will try to offer them little extras here and there as a reward for being loyal.
Also, look at the folks who are already patronizing the upper premium and luxury lines, or maybe folks who left it because they don’t like the larger ships. We’ve created this super yacht experience with less than 300 guests.1. 1.