Leadership Changes Announced For The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is undergoing strategic changes and making key appointments to its operations leadership team in anticipation of future expansion. 

Mark Lockwood has been appointed as the Chief Product Officer, while Jens Gorka assumes the role of Senior Vice President for Shipboard Operations. Additionally, Clayton van Welter joins the team as the Vice President for Marine Operations.

“In our endless pursuit of perfecting the ultra-luxury experience for our guests, this new leadership structure will establish a strong foundation for effective collaboration and performance, and unlock our potential for innovation and growth,” said Executive Chairman and CEO Jim Murren. “Their collective passion and experience will be integral to offering a consistent, unparalleled guest experience at sea as we continue growing our fleet.”



Mark Lockwood

Mark Lockwood joined The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection in 2017, bringing with him more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality and operational sectors. 

Previously, he held prominent positions at: 

  • Midtown Athletic Clubs 
  • Royal Caribbean 
  • Celebrity Cruises 
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Several Leading Hotels of The World

As Chief Brand Officer and Senior Vice President for Cruise Hotel Operations, Lockwood played a crucial role in the successful launch of Evrima, the company’s first yacht.

As Chief Product Officer, Lockwood will lead the development of products across the organization.

Jens Gorka

With over 30 years of hospitality experience, Jens Gorka has been appointed as the Senior Vice President for Shipboard Operations. In this role, he will oversee:

  • hotel shipboard operations 
  • shipboard finance 
  • procurement
  • logistics across the company’s fleet 

Gorka played a pivotal role in leading the Shipboard Operation team during the final build phase of Evrima in Spain. 

He brings 20 years of cruise experience from his previous positions at Silversea Cruises, where he held various roles in operations and finance, including Vice President of Hotel Operations. 

Gorka holds an MBA from the esteemed EHL Hospitality Business School.

Clayton van Welter

A maritime veteran with extensive experience, Clayton van Welter has been appointed as the Vice President for Marine Operations. In his previous role as the Head of Product at Wärtsilä Voyage, van Welter: 

  • spearheaded product strategy and 
  • implemented innovative tactics to enhance high-level product engagement. 

With a background of 17 years in global cruise and marine technology companies, both ashore and at sea, he will oversee: 

  • Marine and technical operations
  • safety 
  • security 
  • environmental sustainability
  • vessel efficiency 

Van Welter previously led the safety program and compliance as the Assistant Vice President for Maritime Safety at Royal Caribbean Group, leveraging his expertise in continuous improvement.

“I am delighted to welcome Clayton and partner closely with Jens and Mark to promote collaboration and excellence across the organization,” said President and CFO of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Ernesto Fara. “Improving efficiency and simplifying workflow will allow us to further elevate our distinctive experience and continue to improve operational excellence.”

These new leadership changes come at a momentous phase of growth for The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection as it expands its fleet with the introduction of yachts Ilma and Luminara, scheduled to embark on their maiden voyages in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

By Ethan Leckie