Guests booked on the maiden cruise season of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection (RCYC) have this week been notified of a third delay for the yet-to-launch ultra-luxury superyacht operator.
Thirteen departures around the Adriatic, Croatia, Greek Islands and the Mediterranean – ranging from five- to nine-nights duration – have been rescheduled, with a new start date now earmarked for late July 2021.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s first of three ships, Evrima, was initially slated to launch in February 2020, however “delivery and cost issues” saw that date bumped back until mid-June of the same year.
That setback was compounded when the new cruise line confirmed a further 10-month postponement for its start of operations until mid-April 2021 as a result of delays at the Hijos de J. Barreras shipyard in Spain where the 298-guest vessel is being constructed. At the time, management stated the delay was not due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, LATTE can reveal that pre-booked guests are being notified of a further three-month delay, with Evrima’s re-scheduled inaugural cruise in the Mediterranean now pushed back to 24 July, 2021 – a seven-night sailing from Venice to Athens (Pireaus).
Furthermore, it appears Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has postponed its originally planned season in the Canadian Maritimes and New England and impacting five-departures in the region, according to guest feedback on social media.
Instead, Evrima has now extended its season in the Mediterranean, with additional sailing in October before the ultra-luxury yacht charts a course to the Caribbean in November.
This latest launch delay comes as the majority of other cruise lines voluntarily pause their operations due to the pandemic, some up until the end of April 2021.
Responding to questions posed by LATTE, this morning [22 January, 2021] RCYC confirmed the latest postponement.
“Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 globally, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has made the decision to reschedule its inaugural voyage. Evrima, the first yacht of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, will now set sail on July 24, 2021 from Venice, Italy to Athens, Greece,” the company said.
“The safety and wellbeing of our guests and Ladies and Gentlemen [crew] continues to remain our highest priority,” said Douglas Prothero, CEO of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.
“Due to the ongoing safety concerns and travel restrictions due to COVID-19, we have decided to proactively reschedule our first sailing to later in the summer. Knowing that our guests are eager to travel to the Mediterranean, we have also adjusted our fall itinerary schedule to include additional voyages in the Mediterranean,” Prothero said.
“More than ever, we are eager to welcome guests aboard Evrima in July and are really looking forward to delivering an exceptional experience,” Prothero added.
Flexible Booking Program
RCYC said that to address the challenges uncertainty brings when evaluating future travel plans, the company has established a Flexible Booking Program for 2021 Mediterranean voyages.
Under this new program, guests can submit a request to receive a future cruise credit equal to 100% of the cruise fare paid up to 31 days prior to sailing, should travel restrictions prevent guests from reaching their scheduled port of embarkation after final payment. The credit can be applied within 12 months of issue toward any available voyage through to 14 April, 2023.
Guests impacted by the schedule change are being offered the option to reschedule their voyage to any available sailing in 2021, 2022 or 2023, or to discuss reimbursement options.
More inventory required
Meanwhile Prothero, who is also the Founding Partner of RCYC, recently stated the biggest challenges facing the cruise company is “getting more inventory”.
In a wide-ranging interview with the President’s Society at Babson College, Prothero confirmed RCYC is actively working to cut steel on the second ship “as soon as possible”.
“Our biggest challenge is how soon can we get number two,” he said, while adding that bookings for the cruise line are “above market” expectations.
Prothero stated that about half of the RCYC’s passengers that have booked to sail on Evrima have never cruised or even considered a cruise before, lured by the “differentiation of what is being built”.
Future fleet planning
Commenting on the design of the follow-up ships, Prothero revealed that the future fleet-mates will be slightly different in size to Evrima, both being a fraction longer and wider.
Only Evrima will have the ability to navigate the locks and canals of the Saint Lawerence Seaway in Canada and the USA.
“To the untrained eye the ships will look exactly the same, there is a difference between one and two. And [ships] two and three are exact sisters.”
By 2025, when all three RCYC ships are expected to be in operation, the cruise line will look to expand its offering to other regions of the world, beyond the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Prothero proposed destinations such as the Middle East and Asia, and potentially the Pacific.
Prothero also commented that The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is heading towards having a “strong focus on sustainability and responsible travel” for the future.
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