SIX YEARS AFTER RITZ-CARLTON ANNOUNCED ITS GRAND ENTRANCE INTO THE LUXURY CRUISE INDUSTRY, THE HOSPITALITY GIANT’S PREEMINENT YACHT COLLECTION IS OFFICIALLY SAILING THE HIGH SEAS, INVITING SUN-THIRSTY SOJOURNERS ON FIVE-STAR VOYAGES TO ICELANDIC GLACIERS, MEDITERRANEAN MICRO ISLANDS, THE BALTICS, AND BEYOND.
BY AMANDA MCCOY
At the turn of the 20th century, Switzerland-born hotelier Cesar Ritz was revolutionizing modern hospitality in Europe, first with the launch of the landmark Ritz Paris in 1898 followed by the Carlton Hotel in London one year later. His properties featured then-novel amenities like an en-suite bathroom, telephone, and electricity in every room, quickly attracting an elite guestlist and knighting Ritz as the “king of hoteliers and hotelier to kings.” By the time he passed in 1918, his name had been immortalized in the luxury sphere, crossing the Atlantic in 1928 with the opening of the Ritz-Carlton Boston by prominent real estate investor Edward N. Wyner. Paying homage to Ritz’s legacy, the grand dame boasted a private bath in each room, a black tie-donning staff, intimate lobbies for personalized guest service, and an upper-crest clientele (according to records, exclusivity became so high during the hotel’s heyday that potential guests were granted reservations based on the quality of their writing paper).
The Ritz-Carlton brand soon spread, with landmark projects rising in Manhattan, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Atlantic City, and Boca Raton. Today, there are 108 locations worldwide.
In 2017, 90 years after the birth of its cardinal property, the global brand announced its newest conquest: taking over the high seas. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection marked the first entry by an ultra-luxury hotel group into the cruise industry (though additional heavyweights like the Four Seasons soon followed suit). The inaugural ship, named Evrima, was originally slated to embark on her maiden voyage in February 2020, but after a lengthy three-year COVID-related delay, she departed Barcelona on October 15, 2022, gliding along the Mediterranean bound for Nice, France.
Evrima (its name derived from the Greek origin word for discovery), the first vessel in the collective’s forthcoming trio, is a 624-foot superyacht designed by Scandinavian powerhouse Tillberg Design of Sweden, a major player in ultra-luxury cruise design. Privacy and personalized service remain cornerstones of the Ritz nameplate, and the ship only accommodates 298 passengers to ensure spacious accommodations, ample common and dining areas, and a favorable guest-to-staff ratio (the crew totals 246). A personal concierge is assigned to each room to honor bespoke requests, from fresh flower arrangements and mini bar accoutrements to in-room dinners by candlelight – even if cravings strike at 3 a.m.
There are six suite types on board, ranging in size from 300 interior square feet to a massive 1,091-square-foot super-suite, all boasting private outdoor terraces that add another 54 to 635 square feet. Luxury appointments fill every room, from a custom king bed sleep system topped with hypoallergenic pillows to double vanity bathrooms, some with deep soaking tubs. Wrap yourself in a plush bathrobe, pop open the complimentary bottle of welcome champagne, and watch the waves pass by from your ocean-facing terrace or dedicated seating area.
Upgraded suites add amenities that could rival any five-star landlocked resort. Spring for the dual-story Loft, for instance, to luxuriate in a modern living/scenic room on the upper level before descending a rich wooden staircase to find the sleeping suite beneath a floor-to-ceiling picture window. There’s also a dedicated dining room and terrace on the upper level.
The flagship Owner’s Suite is a penthouse on the sea, finished with a second bathroom, walk-in wardrobe, and separate living and dining areas behind panoramic glass walls. The terrace alone stretches 635 square feet over the open ocean and features a dining table, plush couches, and a whirlpool. A set of high-zoom binoculars are on hand to glimpse dolphin pods in the distance.
A space ratio of 89 square feet per guest affords ample room for resort amenities, including a full-service wellness spa with private and open-air treatment rooms, plus a beauty lounge, gentleman’s grooming lounge, sauna, steam shower, and relaxation zone. A glass wall-enclosed fitness studio features state-of-the-art workout equipment set against ocean and pool views, and passengers can take advantage of group and private sessions like sunrise yoga, pilates, and personal training. Cool down post-workout in the infinity pool or accompanying whirlpools, or pop in the Pool House for scratch-made guacamole or an icy mojito. When hunger strikes, there are six restaurants to choose from: seasonal snapper from the Evrima Room, perhaps, or sophisticated Southeastern Asian bites at Talaat Nam. Chef Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg, helms S.E.A., Evrima’s flagship that serves a stunning European tasting menu.
Next year, the 448-passenger Ilma will join the lineup, followed by Luminara in 2025 to officially round out the superyacht trio. Ilma will also feature private terraces in each light-filled super-suite, plus five restaurants, six bars, and a well-stocked wine vault with vintage labels from across the globe. Sustainability is a hallmark of the fleet, from sourcing eco-friendly building materials to the fuel that feeds each ship.
“Each vessel will be fitted with four dual-fuel engines and utilize liquefied natural gas (LNG) as its main fuel source, significantly reducing emissions as compared to traditional practices,” noted the brand in a statement. “Additionally, the yachts will include advanced water treatment systems, an efficient heat recovery loop, LED lighting, and more, with the goal of minimizing environmental impact.”