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The yacht's aft marina

Ritz-Carlton dives into the cruise market with a 'yachting' concept

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. is getting into cruising with a 190-meter 'yacht' that will accommodate up to 298 passengers in 149 balcony suites.

Created by The Ritz-Carlton and maritime experts Douglas Prothero and Lars Clasen, in collaboration with funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection aims to provide luxury hospitality service under a long-term operating agreement.

The company plans three lavish cruising yachts, the first to take to sea in the fourth quarter of 2019. The European shipyard will be announced on Tuesday. (Watch this space.) There has been speculation that Spain's Astillero Barreras is a possible candidate.

This project distinguishes Ritz parent Marriott International as the only provider of luxury accommodations on land and at sea. (Years ago, Marriott had an interest in Sun Line Cruises.)

'The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will have a distinctive personality and the vessels are sure to be true stand-outs in some of the most glamorous ports around the world,' according to Herve Humler, president and chief operating officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. 'This unique combination of yachting and cruising will usher in a new way of luxury travel for guests seeking to discover the world in a relaxed, casually elegant and comfortable atmosphere with the highest level of personalized service.'

Itineraries will focus on intimate destinations with voyages ranging from seven to 10 days. The first ship will cruise a wide variety of regions including the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America. Ports like Capri, Portofino, St. Barths and Colombia's Cartagena are planned, with a relaxed pace that includes overnight stays.

The yacht's modern craftsmanship and interior finishes will be jointly designed by The Ritz-Carlton and Tillberg Design of Sweden.

In addition to balcony suites the vessel will feature two 138 square-meter duplex penthouse suites. Other features include a restaurant by Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three-star Michelin restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg; a signature Ritz-Carlton Spa; and a Panorama Lounge and wine bar, offering a wide variety of entertainment. Additionally, the yacht will offer curated experiences by collaborating with local chefs, musicians and artists, allowing travelers to delve into the destinations.

'The Ritz-Carlton is known for its legendary service and high standards,' said Prothero, co-managing director, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.

'We are delighted to collaborate with The Ritz-Carlton as our hospitality operator in offering the most exclusive yachting experience to be found at sea in a venture that will give new meaning to curated luxury travel,' added Lars Clasen, co-managing director, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.

Prothero's background includes leading Canadian Sailing Expeditions, while Clasen's includes executive roles at A'ROSA, Deutsche Seereederei and Seetours, when it was the parent of AIDA Cruises and part of Carnival Corp. & plc.

Reservations are to open in May 2018.

See also 'Ritz-Carlton builds its Florida team as newbuild news is imminent.'

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