Four years ago, when the Ritz-Carlton group announced it would be building superyachts, the news sent ripples, if not waves, through the cruise industry.
The new Ritz-Carlton Evrima promised high-end travellers who couldn’t quite afford the price tag of owning their own yacht a chance to be part of the billionaire’s club.
Kitted out with toys such as jet-skis, S.E.A. – a private dining experience by chef Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg – the aim of the Evrima is to attract those who have previously not considered taking a cruise.
“Nine out of 10 of our guests have never been on a cruise before, that just shows the type of client we are dealing with,” said Douglas Prothero, CEO of the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. “You won’t find things like casinos on board, we want guests to explore the places we visit rather than spend all their time on board.”
Luxury hotelier group Four Seasons shortly followed with its own announcement – a new yacht, which is due to launch in 2025, with a price tag of about $1.7 billion. While it’s not the first yacht in Four Season’s staple of offerings, it will surely be the grandest. With no expense spared, each suite is estimated to have cost about $5.9 million to build. To give guests a sense of the size, the suite starts at about 54 square metres (the same size as a one-bedroom London flat), while the largest will be more than 892 square metres, complete with a plunge pool, dedicated spa area as well as an indoor/outdoor living space.
The pandemic has spurred a new breed of luxury travellers – they are looking for their own space, minimal flights to get to their destination, access to private airports and planes, and, most importantly, the elimination of pesky border controls.
And perhaps it was this trend that sparked Aman and Belmond to also jump into the cruise space. While Belmond offers barge cruising in locales such as France’s Canal du Midi, earlier this year it revealed details regarding its new Orient Express Silenseas.
The ship is set for launch in 2026 with 1500 square metres of rigging for wind propulsion and being powered by liquified natural gas. What’s even more impressive is the Presidential Suite measures a staggering 1,415 square metres with a 530-square-metre terrace.
On board guests will be able to use two swimming pools, two restaurants, a speakeasy-type bar, an amphitheatre-cabaret with a private recording studio and a spa.
CEO of Accor Sébastien Bazin says that the ship marks a “new chapter” in the history of the famous train line.
“This exceptional sailing yacht, with roots in Orient Express’ history, will offer unparalleled service and refined design spaces, reminiscent of the golden age of mythical cruises,” he says.
The launch of Silenseas is a nod to the golden era of luxury tourism in the French Riviera and is designed for more eco-conscious luxury travellers.
The company plans to launch a second ship to join Silenseas.
Meanwhile, Aman plans to build a luxury yacht with 50 opulent suites. A wide range of dining options is also promised, as well as a decked-out luxury spa with a Japanese relaxation garden. The ship also boasts two helipads, a beach club and a lounge.
Environmental considerations haven’t been sacrificed for extravagance, with the ship being equipped with dual fuel power that can exceed the current environmental standards for cruise ships and yachts.
Marco Ghiglione, managing director of T Mariotti, says it’s an honour to continue making ships in the same vein, with the new luxury yacht a symbol of Italian craftsmanship.
“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to work with Aman, the pinnacle player in high-end hospitality. We are proud to offer our luxury shipbuilding experience to this challenging new venture offering a unique combination of luxury, safety and versatility which will innovate the art of travelling at sea. This is yet another sign of the ‘Made in Italy’ skill and capacity to satisfy the wishes of the most demanding customers in the world,” he says.
The other half of the operation, Cruise Saudi, is a publicly backed investment fund looking to expand cruise and tourism across Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. The fund is aiming to exceed one million cruise passengers in Saudi Arabia by 2028 and have five operating ports across the country.