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Chantiers de l'Atlantique floats out Ritz-Carlton's Ilma

On a stage set up beneath ilma in the dry dock, Chantiers de l'Atlantique's Arnaud Le Joncour poured the Champagne after The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's Jim Murren uncorked the bottle, signaling the start of the yacht's float-out, which will take 31 hours and 15 minutes
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's Jim Murren popped the cork of a six-liter bottle of Moët & Chandon to signal the start of Ilma's float-out at Chantiers de l'Atlantique during festivities Tuesday evening.

If things go to plan, CEO Murren will be uncorking many more bottles of Champagne in the coming years as his company aims for eight to 10 newbuilds for multiple Marriott International brands — probably at Chantiers de l'Atlantique, as earlier reported here.

But Tuesday evening, it was all about Ilma.

Ritz-Carlton's second yacht and the first of two LNG-powered newbuilds formed the impressive backdrop for a dry dock celebration, the blades of the yacht's Azipods polished to a gleam. In a demonstration, Ilma's marina platform was unfolded.   


Ilma's marina unfolds

Motivational event

The 150 attendees included the entire Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection senior management team, bankers, investors, a Marriott International representative, media and shipyard guests.

It was a particularly celebratory occasion for the Ritz-Carlton employees who'd persevered through the trials and tribulations of first yacht Evrima's construction at a Spanish shipyard that went bankrupt and repeated delivery delays.


Chantiers de l'Atlantique GM Laurent Castaing, left, with Jim Murren

Murren, who took the reins as CEO in April, wanted as many of his people present as reward for their hard work and for team-building. In the next two days, they'll be learning more about the company's strategic vision, growth plans and the aspiration to go public in three to four years.

'We're here. We're thrilled'

'We're here. We're thrilled. And in nine months [Ilma's] sailing and we couldn't be more excited. It's a team effort,' said Kristian Anderson, SVP global sales, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.


Tobias King is pleased with the attention to detail going into the construction of Ilma, pictured behind him

Tobias King, VP newbuild for Ritz-Carlton, is delighted with the attention to detail going into the construction, with Chantiers taking care to smooth down the welding in any areas that will be seen by passengers to give a sleek, yacht-like finish everywhere.


Arnaud Le Joncour, left, with Ernesto Fara, CFO and president of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, with Ilma's gleaming Azipod blades behind

Arnaud Le Joncour, SVP sales & marketing for Chantiers de l'Atlantique, said the builder took on the ultra-luxury challenge with gusto and developed the 'invisible' welding process as just one aspect of that. Everything going into this yacht is complex and refined. 

Still, Ilma has progressed with speed. Its 21 blocks were assembled in six months and delivery is expected in mid-July.


Ilma's hull illuminated in the red, white and blue of the French tricolor

Murren called the float-out — which will take 31 hours and 15 minutes — a milestone and 'a big day for all of us,' and expressed 'immense pride' in the detail and craftsmanship going into Ilma. He deemed it 'a superyacht that will surpass all expectations.'

The ladies and gentlemen of the Ritz-Carlton

Rachel Moosa, who just joined The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection as chief people officer, was taking it all in on her first shipyard visit. She's very impressed with the hardware but noted it's the 'ladies and gentlemen of the Ritz-Carlton' who'll be delivering the experience.

And many are eager to be among their ranks.

Moosa said almost 40,000 applications had been received for 500 job openings with Ilma's addition.

'That's wonderful. It's a great problem to have,' she said.