Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's prices in line with competitors

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The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection ship expects to start sailing in November 2019.

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Eighteen months before its scheduled debut of the first Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection ship, executives offered the first clue as to pricing for the luxury brand, saying a representative fare in the Mediterranean would be about $5,600 for a seven-day itinerary.

That appears to put it squarely in line with what competitors are charging for a seven-day Med cruise this summer.

CEO Douglas Prothero cited the $5,600 price at a Seatrade Cruise Global news conference in which he laid out some new details of the Ritz-Carlton ship, itineraries and its brand marketing strategy.

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A rendering of the Marina Lounge.

"In terms of price point, we will be at a slight premium to the market," Prothero said. "We think because it is an intimate [ship] by Ritz-Carlton that the market will bear that. Our research tells us it will. But it's not a surprisingly large number at all. People, when we tell them, say it's less than they expected it to be."

Competitors of the 298-passenger Ritz-Carlton ship will include the 112-passenger ships of SeaDream Yacht Club. An online price check of seven-day SeaDream Med itineraries this summer revealed a midlevel suite price of $5,699.

Another luxury line, Silversea Cruises, said a suite on its Silver Spirit, currently being overhauled in drydock in Sicily, will cost $5,600 on its first seven-day voyage after upgrades are completed in May.

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The ship wil have 90 Terrace Suites.

Prothero said the new brand, a joint venture of Marriott Corp.'s Ritz-Carlton chain and investment firm Oaktree Capital Management, will begin sailing in November 2019 in the southern Caribbean.

After a series of seven- and 10-day voyages there, it will move to the Adriatic in the spring of 2020, sail the Mediterranean and up to northern Europe and the Baltic from July through September before offering Canada/New England itineraries in the fall of 2020.

A second ship will add itineraries for the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes in the summer, while a third will go to Asia, Prothero said.

A sample itinerary in the Caribbean, he said, might include St. Lucia, Bequia, Mustique and Tobago Cays. All are small islands within a leisurely sail of each other and more likely to be visited by yachts than by cruise ships.

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A rendering of the aft pool deck.

Prothero said the features that will differentiate Ritz-Carlton include service staff trained in the Ritz-Carlton service tradition ("ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen"), a higher percentage of larger suites and the sleek look of the ship.

The accommodations include two Owner's suites, 12 Loft suits, 18 Grand suites, 27 Signature suites and 90 Terrace suites. The Loft suites are duplexes, with bedrooms on the lower level, built so that the ship could be all-balcony. The Terrace suites can be combined to reduce the total number of suites from 149 to 107 for charters.

The five dining venues on the ship will include a main dining room, as yet unnamed, that seats 140; an Asian fusion restaurant; a poolside grill; a seafood grill; and Aqua, a restaurant being developed by three-star Michelin chef Sven Elverfeld, who runs a restaurant by that name at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Prothero said the sales staff is currently marketing charters, but that will end soon for the 2019/20 season. "Once we go on sale for FIT, that's it," he said. "We will never walk or bounce FIT guests for charters."

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Michelin-starred chef Sven Elverfeld is behind the Aqua restaurant.

When the fleet reaches three ships, he said, he expects 25% to 30% of the business will be charter. Voyage sales open in May for Marriott Rewards program members and in June for all others.

Prothero expects many bookings to come through Marriott channels. He said the sales staff at the Coconut Grove headquarters is focused on "that segment that doesn't have contact with the hotel segment."

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