First cruiseship for US hotel group

Ritz-Carlton’s new offering at the top end of the cruise market (credit: The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection) Ritz-Carlton’s new offering at the top end of the cruise market (credit: The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection)

Signalling the impending debut of a major US-owned hotel group in the ultra-luxury segment of the cruise business, a 24,000gt newbuild has been launched for Ritz-Carlton from the Vigo premises of Hijos de J.Barreras, in northwest Spain.

With outfitting due to take about one year, the bespoke vessel is expected to be completed by November 2019 in readiness to start her 2020 cruise schedule under the brand The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Bearing the yard’s hull number 1705, the ship is as yet unnamed, while unofficially referred to as Ritz-Carlton One, writes David Tinsley.

Maryland-based contractual owner The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has immediate plans for three vessels, which it terms as “yachts” in the interests of competitive differentiation, highlighting their small size and nature of the itineraries and service experience relative to cruise ships at large.

The lead ship is 190m in length, and will accommodate only 298 guests, cruising a wide variety of destinations according to season, and including the Mediterranean, northern Europe, New England, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. Voyages will range from seven to 10 nights, putting into many ports and places inaccessible to most cruise vessels.

Currently operating 91 hotels in 30 countries, and part of Marriott International, Ritz-Carlton is aiming with the cruise venture to emulate the luxury lifestyle and service standards that it is known for on land.

The newbuild has 11 decks, five of which (decks 4 to 8) are given over to passenger cabins, each of which will have a balcony. The vessel is claimed to have the highest ratio of crew per guest, since she will carry a complement of 246 for a maximum 298 passengers.

To achieve the desired result as regards vessel interiors and exteriors, the company has engaged Tillberg Design of Sweden. Particular attention has been paid to noise and vibration attenuation, reflecting the fundamental importance attached to ensuring passenger comfort in all conditions, and the nomination of diesel-electric power and propulsion technology contributes to this objective.

The primary power installation will comprise four MAN diesel generator sets, each of 3,600kWe, delivering electrical energy to the shipboard net and to the motors integral with a pair of Azipod D-series azimuthing propulsion units. The podded propulsors offer greater fuel efficiency across the load range than shaftline systems, and confer the requisite manoeuvrability for accessing small ports and harbours without having to call on tug assistance.

Along with all elements in the ABB-supplied medium-voltage power plant, the Azipods will be fitted with sensors to produce data that can be tracked from ashore, for performance monitoring and maintenance planning purposes, both by the customer and by ABB’s Ability Collaborative Operations Centres.

The inaugural cruise is planned for February 2020, entailing a 10-day voyage between Fort Lauderdale (Florida) and Bridgetown (Barbados).

Ritz-Carlton’s high-specification vessel constitutes one of the most capital-intensive commercial projects attracted to date by Spanish shipbuilding, and will be a new showcase for the industrial cluster in Vigo and the Galician region. Recourse to foreign specialists includes the Austrian company Interior Proman, which has particular expertise in superyacht outfitting.

Majority owned by Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the Barreras yard has a long track record in high-grade and one-off vessel construction, including ro-pax ferries, dynamic-positioning offshore vessels, research ships and large tuna catchers. The Ritz-Carlton contract, secured against bids from 12 other European yards, represents an entirely new sphere of work for the region.

It is understood that Barreras is in line to formalise follow-on orders for second and third ships from the US group. These call for deliveries in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS—Ritz-Carlton/Barreras Yard No.1705

Length overall

190.00m

Length bp

162.00m

Breadth, moulded

23.80m

Depth, to main deck

8.00m

Draught, design

5.65m

Gross tonnage

24,000t

Passenger capacity

298

Crew

246

Main generators

4 x 3,600kWe

Azipod propulsors

2 x 4,600kW

Speed, service

16.0knots

Speed, maximum

17.8knots

Range @16knots

8,000nm

Class

DNV GL

Flag

Malta

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