More than half of the bookings for the inaugural season of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection have come from guests that have never taken a cruise before, according to CEO Douglas Prothero.
“They are coming because of the brand and because of the design,” he said.
Delivery of the company’s first 298-guest ship is scheduled for this November, with cruise service starting early next year.
“We are in outfitting,” Prothero told Cruise Industry News in a February interview in Manhattan. “It’s mostly subcontractors outside the yard doing production. Onboard we have pipe, electrical and we are racing toward the main engine start. It’s a busy place. There are 600 people onboard per day running six days, two shifts, and we are about to go six days and three shifts.”
The ship has been designed by Tillberg Design of Sweden.
Commuting between the company’s quickly-growing Florida office – now at 70 people – and the shipyard in Spain, Prothero was also busy finalizing the details on ships two and three. In Spain there is a large 15-person site team, while another office in Malta now stands at 10 employees.
With the ship under company control as soon as November; December and January will be spent on brand and crew training in the Canary Islands and on her crossing to Port Everglades.
Opening sales in 2018, the results have been nothing but strong.
“We’re not surprised it’s doing well. We have a great brand selling a great new concept with a very big loyal following with a unique design,” Prothero explained.
“More than half are new-to-cruise. I don’t think they are looking at anyone else.”
At 298 guests, the newbuilds offer a unique size not found in the luxury cruise market.
“We started with a lower number and converged on this number. We were trying to make sure we were building a Ritz-Carlton at sea. The real boutique Ritz-Carlton’s cap out at that number of keys,” Prothero continued.
Demand can be attributed to a unique design, the luxury brand and the trend towards experiences over goods, Prothero explained.
“Our guests, our travelers, are veteran luxury travelers. They’ve been everywhere. These are people who are interested in having this brand experience at sea. They trust what it’s going to be and they’re intrigued by the design. This end of the luxury cruise business was mostly vacated and that is why there are so many new to cruise.”
There has been an overwhelming response from potential officers and crewmembers. An added benefit the company will offer will be the ability to transition shoreside at a Ritz-Carlton property.
Prothero said 2020 will be about the guest experience, with years of planning coming to fruition.
“The ship is certainly going to be full. We are well on our way to that. What does success look like? Happy guests.”