The last thing I want to do is discourage anyone from entering the luxury cruise market. I believe the more diversity and approaches to delivering the luxury (or, as so many say, ultra-luxury…whatever that is) cruise experience. But…Don’t I always have a “but”?
As enthusiastic as I am about the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection starting up, I am also cautious. The announcement today only makes me a bit more cautious….though still optimistic. Why? Let me give you some background first.
When Radisson Seven Seas was re-branded as Regent Seven Seas and claimed it would provide a Regent hotel experience at sea, I said that providing a luxury hotel experience at sea was not possible and to market that it would be the same just wasn’t accurate.
The reality was, unfortunately, when the line was re-branded the quality of the product – which, at the time, was on a par with Seabourn’s – markedly declined. (Remember, I am talking in the past tense: Regent Seven Seas has upped its game significantly since then!) Regent then all but abandoned that marketing concept and transformed itself into “Six Star Luxury” and “Everything is included”…and its brand loyalty skyrocketed as its fresh marketing approach definitely attracted a specific market segment.
Now, here comes Ritz-Carlton! It clearly has a vision and a loyal following; as there is a definite market segment of guests that will only stay at Ritz-Carlton properties, mostly because it consistently delivers the same product throughout the world. (Personally, it is not my cup of tea as I want I a more local feel and experience, but others see the Ritz-Carlton as their personal refuge.)
But it had a very rough start, with basically a clearing out of its original executive team. Things have settled out significantly, but today there was a press release about the – finally!! – filling out of many executive and operational positions. It is, alas, a worry to me because of the lack of cruise and maritime experience.
As I read Cruise Industry News article, I say that yet another Holland America employee has left the company; this time for Ritz-Carlton. Jethro Beck, formerly the Director of Marine Operations for HAL is now the Senior Director of Marine Operations for Ritz-Carlton. And a new VP of Newbuilding and Marine Operations has come over from Costa Cruises Asia. These two hires gave me a bit of comfort and a feeling that maybe I was being a bit too skeptical.
But then I read that the Culinary Director, who is truly a talent, has absolutely no cruise line experience. And then the Senior Manager of Food and Beverage has nine years of experience at Ritz-Carlton properties, but no cruise line experience. The new Manager of Purchasing had a fleeting (sorry for the pun, but I couldn’t help it) time at Silversea Cruises 15 years ago and eight various jobs since. Others have has some cruise line experience (some for a good period of time), but not recently.
|Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection Terrace Suite|
What does this mean to me? It means that the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has some pretty good bones and should, after its executives and staff, get some real-time cruise experience under their belts, be able to provide a true luxury cruise experience…and one that is fairly consistent with the Ritz-Carlton brand. There will be a learning curve and some of the ideas (which are more land-based) probably won’t pan out as it thought. (That is true for pretty much every cruise line, to be fair.)
So I have a but, but it is a fairly small “but” (and most people like small buts): I do not recommend booking a cruise with Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection during its Inaugural Year. If you would like to book this still being defined product further out, I would encourage it and, to be sure, I am confident you will not be disappointed so long as you keep the realistic expectation that you cannot provide a land-based luxury hotel experience on a luxury cruise ship.
If you have any questions or wish to discuss booking a Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection cruise, give me a call, drop me an email or send me a Facebook message!
US: (877) 2GO-LUXURY (877-246-5898)
UK: 020 8133 3450
AUS: (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else: +1 530 562 9232