Is Yachting the New Cruising?
Last week, Porthole Cruise Magazine attended Seatrade Cruise Global, the cruise industry’s largest event complete with information, networking, and news from the cruise lines themselves where we saw more than one yacht cruise on display.
Sailing to remote, underdeveloped, stunning regions of the world — in pure style – was one trend that stood out this year. From small ship and ocean cruise lines to even a luxury resort brand, many are getting in the yachting game, giving travelers plenty of options to sample this new style of yacht cruising on the high seas.
French cruise line, PONANT, announced the launch of two additional vessels, which will expand its fleet to 12 ships with 2,000 crew members and 460 departures by 2021. PONANT’s expansion includes construction of the fifth and sixth vessels in the innovative EXPLORERS series.
The new series of ships is perfect for the active, wanderlust, global traveler, said Edie Rodriguez, Americas brand chair and corporate special advisor for Ponant, pointing out that PONANT offers opportunities to sail all over the world.
The new yacht-like ships, to be called Le Bellot and Le Surville, will launch in 2020 with sleek design, state-of-the-art ship technology, and environmentally friendly operations. Each ship will have 92 cabins appointed with warm and contemporary design and balconies, as well as four suites with bay windows and terraces.
The new ships will join sister EXPLORERS ships Le Lapérouse, Le Champlain, Le Bougainville, and Le Dumont d’Urville, launching in 2018 and 2019. These six EXPLORER ships will all feature the world’s first multisensory underwater lounge called Blue Eye, allowing passengers to discover and experience the underwater world via two portholes in the shape of a cetaceous eye, looking out into the marine world. There will be non-intrusive underwater lighting, and hydrophones integrated into the keel that retransmit the natural symphony of the deep water, as well as body listening sofas, which will discreetly vibrate in unison with the streaming aquatic acoustics.
PONANT also recently announced that it will launch the first electric hybrid cruise icebreaker with luxury appointments in 2021, yet another pioneering development in polar exploration.
Crystal Cruises revealed the latest details and renderings of its upcoming expedition yacht, Crystal Endeavor. At 19,800 GRT, the all-suite, purpose-built polar class yacht will boast signature Crystal standards fueled by the spirit of adventure.
“Crystal’s entrance into the expedition cruising industry is a natural response to the demand from an increasing segment of travelers, craving more immersive and active experiences in lesser known destinations around the world,” said Tom Wolber, Crystal’s president and CEO. “Our guests will enjoy a truly unforgettable adventure onboard Crystal Endeavor, without sacrificing the standard of excellence and luxury of the Crystal brand that they know and love.”
That standard includes restaurants and public spaces that guests have long enjoyed aboard Crystal’s ocean ships, as well as new spots specifically designed for expedition cruising.
Dining venues will include specialty restaurants Prego and Umi Uma; the main dining venue, Waterside; the Asian-inspired Silk Kitchen & Bar; and the European-inspired Bistro Café. Other public spaces will include the Palm Court, the Connoisseur Club cigar lounge, Crystal Cove, and a casino. Enrichment venues will include the Captain’s Lounge, the Expedition Lounge, the Helicopter Lounge, and the Library. The Promenade will be an intimate space for cocktails, conversation, and spectacular views, while Crystal’s onboard boutiques, Apropos and Facets, will offer designer and fine jewelry shopping.
Wellness options will include a fully equipped fitness center and the dedicated Crystal Life Spa & Crystal Life Salon will feature three treatment rooms, separate men’s and women’s steam and sauna facilities, a relaxation room, and full-service salon services. The two-story solarium pool deck will be enclosed under a glass-domed roof, and expansive mudrooms are designed to accommodate preparation for the day’s adventures and offer cleaning of boots and equipment upon guests’ return from a day exploring ashore.
Crystal Endeavor’s PC6 designation will enable her to operate in summer and autumn through medium first-year ice. The ship will feature the latest technological advancements, including offshore dynamic positioning capabilities, offering both comfort and safety while exploring the icy waters in the Polar Regions as well as exotic locations across the globe.
Crystal marked the steel cutting milestone for the 100-suite Crystal Endeavor in January with the expedition yacht set to debut in 2020. Details and images of the vessels accommodations, marina, itineraries, and on-sale date will be announced at a later date.
Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
The first hotel brand to offer bespoke experiences on land and at sea, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has announced its first year of itineraries aboard its upcoming luxury yachts. Itineraries include the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, Canada and New England.
The first of the three yachts is scheduled to take to the sea in the Caribbean in November 2019. The specially designed yacht will measure 624 feet, accommodate up to 298 passengers, and feature 149 suites, each with its own private terrace. The yacht will also feature two 1,114-square-foot penthouse suites, each with its own private whirlpool, modern craftsmanship, and interior finishes jointly designed by The Ritz-Carlton and design firm Tillberg Design of Sweden.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection yachts will feature five dining venues including a main restaurant; an Asian Fusion restaurant; a poolside grill; a casual dining option; and an a la carte restaurant by Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg. Also on board will be a signature Ritz-Carlton Spa; a Panorama Lounge and champagne bar; and signature Ritz Kids programming.
On each journey, guests will experience one-of-a-kind curated events specifically designed to engage the local culture of every destination, from cooking classes with local chefs to private concerts with local musicians. In addition, guests will benefit from a dedicated Concierge Ashore in addition to five distinct categories of shore excursions, including Iconic Sights; Stirring the Senses; Cultural Connections; Active Explorations; and Epicurean Experiences.
Stopping at both intimate and signature destinations, voyages will range from seven to 10 days. No two itinerary routes are alike, so guests will have the opportunity to combine back-to-back voyages without repeating ports.
“The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection itineraries and programs on land were created with the yachting lifestyle in mind and will offer a relaxed pace and intimate, highly personalized experiences on shore,” said Douglas Prothero, managing director, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. “It mirrors what you’d do if you were on your own yacht.”
Prothero noted that the name of the first yacht will be determined in December, and also revealed that the second yacht will sail the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes; the third will be positioned in the Pacific.
Reservations for The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will open to the public in June 2018, following priority access booking in May 2018 for Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Rewards loyalty members.
Emerald Waterways announced its first foray into ocean cruising with a brand-new yacht sailing itinerary along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast in the Adriatic Sea. Set to launch in 2019, the 8-day Islands of Dalmatia cruise plies the yacht-friendly waters between Trogir and Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Guests will sail aboard the 36-guest MV Adriatic Princess II, a newly commissioned yacht designed to navigate the small ports along the coast. The yacht will boast 18 well-appointed cabins; a sun deck outfitted with sun beds and deck chairs; specially outfitted pool ladders that offer easy-access to the sea for a swim or snorkel while the yacht is stationary; an open-plan restaurant that allows guests flexibility with their dining choices; and a bar and lounge terrace. The knowledgeable, English-speaking crew is available to help guests navigate each port.
The yacht sailings are scheduled to accommodate guests looking to combine an ocean cruise with a river cruise. For example, on select sailings guests can combine a Dalmatian Coast yacht cruise with an Enchantment of Eastern European or Danube Delights river cruise. Emerald will be offering 22 Dalmatian Coast departures from April through October 2019 and are currently accepting pre-bookings.
Scenic first announced its entry into ocean yacht cruising in January 2016 when it revealed plans to build Scenic Eclipse, a 228-guest “6-star” Discovery Yacht that will have the highest passenger ship ice class rating — Polar Class 6 (Ice Class 1A Super) — designed for Arctic and Antarctica cruises.
Most recently, the line announced plans to build a second “6-star” Discovery Yacht, a sister ship to Scenic Eclipse, which has been designed by a collaboration of internal and external naval architects including Foreship in Finland and Oliver Design from Spain. The opulent interiors have been designed by Karen Moroney.
Scenic Eclipse will feature 114 all-verandah suites range in size from 345-square-feet to 2,659-square-feet; 10 dining options including Asian Fusion, French fine dining, a chef’s table, and a poolside buffet; a 5,920-square-foot spa with a well-equipped gym and separate yoga and Pilates studio; two six-guest helicopters and one six-guest submarine; a 240-seat theater for entertainment and lectures; indoor and outdoor plunge pools; a fleet of Zodiacs and kayaks and scuba diving and snorkeling equipment; and an almost 1:1 guest-to-staff ratio. Itineraries are all-inclusive, and include butler service for all guests, all excursions, all drinks and meals 24/7, and all gratuities.
Scenic Eclipse is set to embark on its maiden voyage on August 31, 2018, sailing from Istanbul to Venice, followed by discovery voyages to The Americas; Antarctica; Europe and the Mediterranean; and the Arctic and Norwegian Fjords. Scenic Eclipse II is set to debut on its maiden voyage from Athens to Lisbon in 2020.
Which is your favorite yacht cruise ship on the horizon? Let us know in the comments below!
— Jodi Ornstein
Photos: Ponant (x2), Crystal Cruises (x2), Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection (x2), Emerald Waterways, Scenic (x2)