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Ritz-Carlton Yacht 1 Review

Ritz-Carlton Yacht 1
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Andrea M. Rotondo
Cruise Critic Contributor

Ritz-Carlton Yacht 1 Overview

The first of three identical new-builds will start sailing for the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection in February 2020. The company hopes its new yacht will be as much of a destination in and of itself as the ports it visits: small, off-the-beaten-path enclaves like Mayreau in the Caribbean or France's Saint-Malo, and popular European destinations like Barcelona and Copenhagen.

Designed for discerning luxury travelers that are looking for a customized and immersive experience, a voyage aboard a Ritz-Carlton yacht will focus on the same personalized service the company prides itself on at its land-based hotels and resorts. Voyages will focus on authentic experiences that you can't get elsewhere. The cruise line plans to execute this lofty goal with features like dedicated personal assistants in all suite categories and a Concierge Ashore program that can customize private tours to your specifications.

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The 298-passenger ship is being built at Astillero Hijos de J. Barreras shipyard in Vigo, Spain, while Ritz-Carlton and Tillberg Design of Sweden are handling interior design. The 624-foot-long yacht will be 26,500 gross tons and will feature 149 all-balcony suites.

The pace of the ship will allow for in-depth exploration of a variety of destinations across the globe, and itineraries frequently include extended stays and overnights in port.

A comprehensive cruise fare includes alcoholic beverages, onboard gratuities and Wi-Fi. Book two or more back-to-back voyages and get 5 percent off the cruise fare.

Dining

Ritz-Carlton has placed its focus on the onboard culinary experience so even the pickiest foodie will be pleased with the choices. Despite catering to a mere 298 passengers, the ship will feature five different dining venues, plus 24/7 in-room dining. You'll find a main dining room that's designed to feature many intimate corners for quiet conversation and romantic moments. There will also be an Asian-fusion restaurant, poolside grill and a casual dining venue. Finally, passengers will be treated to an outpost of Aqua from celebrity chef Sven Elverfeld. His restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg (Germany), was awarded three Michelin stars. One can only hope that the incredible raw milk cheese cart from the land-based restaurant makes an appearance on this yacht.

Cabins

All cabins on the ship are suites with balconies, which the Ritz-Carlton refers to as "terraces." Bedrooms are outfitted with queen-sized beds dressed in high-end linens in crisp white, gray and navy blue. Expect to find an espresso/coffee maker in the room (with complimentary coffee and tea), plus a stocked mini-bar. On embarkation day, you can pick either a complimentary bottle of Champagne or wine. Bathrooms offer luxury bath amenities, plus a double vanity.

Upon boarding the yacht, you'll meet your suite's Personal Assistant. This is your point person for just about every detail onboard the ship. A Personal Assistant can assist with dinner reservations or organize your shore tours. This crewmember's sole purpose is to pamper you.

Terrace Suites: While these entry-level cabins are the smallest onboard, they are still spacious by cruise ship standards at 312 square feet with a 67-square-foot balcony. The all-in-one space consists of a bed, desk with stool, two chairs and a coffee table.

Signature Suites: Eleven Signature Suites are similar in nature to Terrace accommodations but bump up the interior square footage to 474 square feet and the balcony to 101 square feet.

Grand Suites:  The 14 Grand Suites are 653 square feet with a 108-square-foot terrace. The bedroom has pocket doors to separate it from the living area, which offers a dining table for four, plus a sofa and armchairs.

Loft Suites: At 700 square feet, Loft Suites were designed to afford balconies even to those staying in water-level cabins. The duplex design puts the bedroom -- complete with panoramic picture window -- downstairs while the living space with a dining table for four and sofa is upstairs in a loft that leads to a 76-square-foot terrace.

View Suites: Four View Suites feature up to 624 square feet, plus a 97-square-foot terrace. The bedroom is separated from a living area with an L-shaped sofa and coffee table, work desk and chair, and dining table that seats four.

Owner's Suites: The nicest suites onboard are the Owner's Suites on Deck 7, aft. Each is 1,098 square feet with a 592-square-foot balcony that features a whirlpool tub. The bedroom is separated from the living space, which includes a dining table for six as well as a sofa and armchairs.

Top Deck Attractions

This yacht experience is all about slowing down and enjoying the ship as well as the interesting ports of call it visits. One of the ship's standout features will be the aft marina platform from which you can borrow a kayak or standup paddleboard. The Marina Terrace promises to be a popular spot to hang out and watch the activities at the marina as well as the shoreline.

The ship will also feature two pools: the larger of the two is on Deck 5 behind the Marina Lounge & Bar and the other, smaller pool is located on Deck 8 with additional lounge space and a casual grill. Ritz Kids, the ship's dedicated kids club facility, is also situated on this deck.

Spa-goers and fitness buffs will head to Deck 9 for The Ritz-Carlton spa and fitness center. The facility includes men's and women's changing facilities, indoor and outdoor spa treatment rooms, a relaxation lounge, plus a salon for women and a barber for men. The gym is all the way forward and will feature a selection of treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes and rowers plus ropes, kettlebells and free weights.

The uppermost deck, Deck 10, is home to the Observation Lounge and the Humidor cigar lounge.

Entertainment

Yacht life is a bit slower than what you'll find aboard mega-ships. However, expect to find lectures by renowned experts as well as cultural experiences with the help of visiting local arts and music communities. There is no casino on the yacht nor is there a show lounge or Broadway-style revues. However, the top-deck outdoor space will convert to a nightclub-style environment each evening and there will be onboard musicians playing classical and jazz. The ship also offers several spots to enjoy casual conversation and a drink or two: The Observation Lounge (Deck 10), The Humidor cigar bar (also on Deck 10), Champagne Bar (Deck 6), the Marina Bar & Lounge (Deck 5) and The Living Room (a library and internet cafe) and Living Room Cafe (Deck 4). The Marina Terrace on Deck 3 is also a beautiful spot to spend the evening watching the stars above.

Family

Ritz-Kids is the onboard kids club. (Children as young as 6 months are welcome to sail with their families.) With content designed by Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society, activities focus on nature and the environment -- and how to protect it. Supervised programs include educational games and age-appropriate activities. Additional family services will be available during school holidays and the summer months.

Itineraries

The ship's first year in service will find it sailing the globe, starting in the Caribbean from February through March and again in November and December. Passengers will enjoy Mediterranean voyages from March through June, Northern Europe itineraries from July through September, and Canada and New England departures in September and October. Voyages range from seven to 10 nights.

Five different groupings of shore excursions will be on offer: Iconic Sights (museum tours or visits to historic sections of a port), Stirring the Senses (think a visit to a lavender field and then a perfumery to create your own scent), Active Explorations (like zipline or dune buggy adventures), Cultural Connections (which focus on protecting wildlife and the natural environment or an activity that raises awareness of a local cause), Epicurean Experiences (i.e., visits to local markets, Michelin-starred restaurants or renowned wineries) and, finally, Concierge Ashore, which offers private tours customized to your specific preferences.