The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is taking their legendary service and unmatched luxury to sea, with plans to launch an ultra-luxury cruise line dubbed The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection in late 2019, offering bespoke cruises on three lavishly-built yachts that are unlike any cruise ship you’ve seen.
The most noticeable difference? Size. While traditional cruise lines pack 3,000+ guests into tight quarters, the Ritz-Carlton yachts offer a journey with space for only 298 guests. Accommodations include 149 suites, each with its own balcony, and two luxurious duplex penthouses. The onboard experience will reflect the sublime comfort and unparalleled level of individualized guest service for which the Ritz-Carlton brand is recognized.
Leading cruise ship design firm Tillberg Design of Sweden is pioneering an open-concept floor plan for these new ships that will be “fluid and transparent” and will “break down the traditional boundaries between dining and drinking areas.” Dining and drinking venues will be small and intimate, perhaps seating only a couple of dozen passengers at a time, and all will be open around the clock, without the assigned seats or prescribed dining times—or buffets—so common in the cruise industry.
“Everything will be like a yacht experience in that respect. The service will appear from nowhere, seamlessly, as opposed to traditional show cooking that’s loud and noisy,” said Fredrik Johansson of Tillberg.
Itineraries are being developed with an intent to combine the lifestyle of The Ritz-Carlton’s luxury resorts and the casual freedom of a yachting vacation. Calling at intimate and signature destinations alike, voyages will range from 7 to 10 days and include overnight and daytime ports of call.
The first ship will cruise a wide variety of destinations depending on the season, including the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America. Due to the intimate size of the vessel, the yacht will call at unique locations typically not accessible to large cruise ships, from Capri and Portofino to St. Barths and the old town of Cartagena. With a relaxed pace, guests will enjoy a uniquely curated destination experience.
The first vessel will sail the Caribbean, New England, and Europe starting late 2019. In early 2021, a second ship will start sailing on similar routes. The third ship, which comes online in early 2022, will break from that pattern and head toward the South Pacific.
Reservations open in May 2018, with pricing to be announced at a later date.
Who’s Ready To Set Sail On The Largest Cruise Ship In The World?
Back in October, we told you about Symphony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship that would hold the distinction as the largest cruise ship in the world.
Now, after three years of construction, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas was recently delivered, and it couldn’t be any more enormous, standing 18-decks-high and weighing in at 228,081 tons. It’s the ultimate over-the-top cruise experience.
“It is a proud and exhilarating moment to welcome a new member to the family. Symphony will take family vacationing to an all new level with energy and options never before found in one place,” Royal Caribbean president and CEO Michael Bayley said during the ship’s delivery ceremony in France.
Symphony of the Seas is part of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class of vessels, which are more than 30% larger than the next largest cruise ships under them. Symphony is about 1,188 feet long and has 2,774 cabins. It will hold 6,680 passengers. It’s basically the Titanic of today. I’m talking size, not tragedy here. The Titanic would be envious of this ship.
Passengers on the Symphony can look forward to things like laser tag, a new seafood concept, a live performance of the Broadway show Hairspray, a 10-story waterslide that spirals down the rear of the ship, numerous pools, lounges, bars, restaurants and much more. There’s also an ice-skating rink, two rock climbing walls, a basketball court, and seven “neighborhoods” with shops, bars (one with robot bartenders), and more.
If that’s not enough, there’s also the Ultimate Family Suite, which RC is billing as “the most spectacular family suite on land or sea.” This two-story family suite is a massive 1,346 square feet, and it’s chock full of family-friendly features, including a slide connecting the children’s room on the second level to the main living area below. Now that’s freaking cool.
As you can see, there’s something for everyone on Symphony, and you’ll likely need all week just to explore every nook and cranny of this mega ship.
The Symphony of the Seas began its first real voyage with passengers on March 31, sailing the Mediterranean before heading to Miami. I don’t know about you, but I think I know where I’m going on my next vacation. Who’s with me?
Photo credit: SBW-Photo
Celebrity Edge Is Like No Cruise Ship We’ve Ever Seen
If you’ve been thinking about taking a cruise, there is no better time to do so, as there are a number of new ships scheduled to set sail in 2018 from all of the major cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises, and Holland America.
One of the ships that we’re most excited about is Celebrity Cruises’ upcoming ship (their first new ship in six years), the Celebrity Edge, which was announced early last year. And now Celebrity Cruises has announced that the ship’s construction is ahead of schedule, with a maiden voyage scheduled for late 2018.
The Celebrity Edge is the first in a new category of Celebrity ships that boasts an innovative new design, with a number of features never before seen on a cruise, like the Magic Carpet – The world’s first cantilevered, floating platform that moves up and down the side of the ship, reaching heights of 13 stories above sea level. With breathtaking views, a full bar, and space for live music performances, it truly is a destination itself.
If that’s not edgy enough, the ship’s Edge Staterooms with Infinite Veradana bring the stateroom balconies indoors. With the touch of a button, bi-folding doors in the room can be opened, allowing your entire living space to become the veranda, and letting you walk right out to the water’s edge. This allows for a wide-open indoor space that’s 23% larger than traditional balcony cabins.
Other unique features include the ship’s Resort Deck, which offers endless ways to enjoy the outdoors and connect with the sea. It includes everything from an asymmetrical outward-facing pool deck to a jogging track that winds up, down, and around the Rooftop Garden – a living urban playscape inspired by playgrounds.
While many cruise lines have moved towards RFID-enabled wristbands and the likes to get in and out of your room, charge a drink, and personalize your cruise experience, Celebrity is taking a slightly different approach, with their proprietary Celebrity app, which will let you do everything on your phone, from checking into the ship to unlocking your stateroom door or controlling your room’s temperature and lighting.
And last but not least, Edge also will have Celebrity’s first cabins for solo travelers. This should make single folks happy, as they won’t get stuck paying double-occupancy anymore. I have a single friend who cruises solo every year, and this cruise would actually make more sense for him from a financial standpoint!
The Celebrity Edge is betting big ($1 billion) that today’s affluent younger travelers will take the plunge on a modern luxury cruise like this.
So what do you say, who’s ready to set sail on the Celebrity Edge? Bookings are officially open for the ship’s maiden voyages in December 2018, departing from Fort Lauderdale for a week-long Caribbean circuit, with cabins starting at $1,049.
For more information, visit celebritycruises.com.
Photo credit: Celebrity Cruises
MSC Cruises’ Epic 4-Month Cruise Visits 32 Countries Across 6 Continents!
If you’ve ever dreamed of taking a trip around the world, MSC Cruises’ “World Cruise” is just the ticket, a 119-day cruise that boasts an itinerary of 49 destinations across 32 countries spanning six continents.
Taking place aboard the MSC Magnifica, which features balcony cabins, 11 bars, four restaurants, a casino, a panoramic nightclub, a cigar lounge, and a 4D cinema, among other amenities and attractions, this one-of-a-kind world cruise departs from Genoa, Italy on January 5, 2019, with passengers crisscrossing the globe and returning there nearly four months later.
The global journey begins with stops in Marseille in France, Barcelona and Malaga in Spain, and Funchal in Portugal. From there, it’s on to the Caribbean, visiting St. Maarten, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Aruba, and a few others before making its way to the Pacific via the Panama Canal.
The cruise will make extended stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Tahiti, giving guests the chance to immerse themselves in local experiences. Additional stops include Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Auckland in New Zealand, and Sydney in Australia, along with several others.
There will also be 15 different complimentary shore excursions that passengers can take advantage of during the trip, such as riding elephants in Pinnawela, taking a dip in the lagoons of Moorea, or touring of national parks. Additional offerings include guided shopping trips, food tours, tours to panoramic viewing sights, and boat trips.
As you have probably guessed by now, a cruise of this magnitude doesn’t come cheap, with tickets starting at $16,999 for an interior double occupancy stateroom. But considering that it would take a lifetime to visit all of these amazing destinations on their own, it’s not really that expensive in the grand scheme of things.
Now figuring out a way to take four months off of work, that might prove to be a little more challenging. That’s probably why MSC recommends this voyage for people planning to take “a traditional gap year, career break or a post-retirement adventure.”
Then again, I can theoretically work from anywhere, as long as they’ve got WiFi.. 🙂