The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, a new three-ship cruise line from one of the leaders in luxury travel, is setting its sights high as it readies for its debut in 2020.
The line, which was revealed in 2017, will make a big splash in the industry, adding three super yachts to the ultra-luxury market, all of which will be small enough to navigate ports and waterways that larger ships cannot reach.
Ahead of the line’s debut, and two weeks after the Yacht Collection floated out its first ship in Hijos De J. Barreras shipyard in Vigo, Spain, the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s CEO Doug Prothero took time to talk to Travel Market Report about the history behind the brand, what it means for the industry, and how travel agents can benefit.
The new ships will include a super-yacht marina. Photo: Ritz-Carlton.
The idea is not a new one
According to Prothero, Marriott has been looking at getting in on the cruise industry for a long time, and the planning for the Yacht Collection’s actual debut stated about six years ago.
“It’s a unique property type, it’s a new property type that travels with the sun, and it’s another way to give a unique opportunity to the loyal Ritz Carlton traveler,” Prothero told Travel Market Report. “When it came to putting this together, it’s quite a long process.”
The Yacht Collection will debut as another entry into the ultra-luxury cruise space, but one that has something special to offer.
Pre- and posts- at Ritz Carlton resorts could be coming
Right now, none of the itineraries on offer directly ties into properties, but the brand is working on voyages in 2021 that will have both a land and a sea component.
“Some of our cruises, we don’t specifically tie into properties, but almost half of our voyages are going to call on ports where we have Marriott properties,” Prothero said. “We might pick a resort where we do five days at the resort and five days on the yacht. We have all kinds of unique benefits for our guests when they’re cruising.”
Yacht designs are uniquely Ritz
“What we managed to get in a ship this size is really, truly a game changer,” Prothero said.
The ships, the first of which will launched at ILTM in Cannes, will come into service at 623-feet-long and 21,000 gross tons. They will be able to carry 298 passengers in 149 cabins (all with terraces) and four different suite categories, outside of its two duplex penthouse suites. But that’s not set in stone as suite sizes can be adjusted — each ship is designed with flexible air walls that will allow Ritz to increase the size of the smallest suites, the Terrace suites.
There will be five dining venues, all of which can be divided into smaller spaces so that even the largest dining room feels like 10 smaller venues, along with a signature Ritz-Carlton Spa, a super yacht marina, and more — all designed to bring the Ritz Carlton experience to the sea.
“There’s no question that this is a resort at sea. It is designed with a more residential [feel], a hybrid between the resort and super yacht. The renderings tell this story really well. This is meant to make people more at home, more relaxed,” Prothero said.
The first of the Yacht Collection's ships was floated out earlier this month. Photo: Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.
Built with group business in mind
Prothero said that the collection has already generated interest from a significant amount of group business after opening up bookings earlier this year, including a number of corporate retreats.
“It’s a perfect target for charters, for buyouts. In addition to just the profile, it’s beautiful and it’s different,” Prothero said.
Travel agents can earn a TC cabin when selling 10 cabins and a maximum of two TC cabins per cruise. Except for full takeovers, groups will be limited to about 60 persons, approximately 20 percent of total capacity.
In the future, destination weddings onboard are not out-of-the-question, Prothero said.
Targeting agent sales
The Yacht Collection already has a dedicated travel agent portal opened. From there, it welcomes agents for regular webinars to showcase the brand’s opportunities. Older webinars are kept in the portal, so travel agents can watch them at any time.
Aside from the group aspect, the best thing for agents, Prothero said, is that the brand’s launch creates an opportunity for agents to target the new-to-cruise guests.
“Would-be buyers of the yacht collection are not people you’re selling cruises to today,” he said. “We can see that that’s a compelling thing. Even with the people not selling cruises, many of them are finding that there’s an interest.”
Commissions will start at 10 percent and will range up to 16 percent with groups and full ship charters counting towards revenue goals. Pre- and post-cruise programs will be commissionable at 5 percent, while shore excursions will be non-commissionable.
At up to $100,000 in gross revenue, agents can earn 10 percent, going to 11 percent until reaching $200,000. From $200,000 to $349,999, agents earn 12 percent. From $350,000 to $499,999, the pay is 13 percent, rising to 14 percent between $500,000 and $699,999. Over $700,000, commission pay jumps to 15 percent with a retroactive 1 percent override back to dollar one.
A one-week Mediterranean cruise will be priced at approximately $5,600 per person, so achieving the highest level would mean selling about 60 cabins.
Reservations are now open.