I Booked A Ritz-Carlton Cruise!

Want to plan a Ritz-Carlton cruise? Contact [email protected] for more details, as he can help you plan your journey without you paying extra.


I just booked my first cruise in over a decade, and I’m really excited!

I used to be obsessed with cruise ships

You guys know how obsessed I am with planes. Well, in my pre-teens I was every bit as obsessed with cruise ships. Living in Florida, my parents would take me on a cruise once a year (typically Carnival), and it was the highlight of my year.

I was so obsessed with cruise ships that I remember when I went to dinner with my parents at a young age I’d bring all the Carnival brochures that had all of their cruise itineraries in them, and then I’d fake “sell” my parents those cruises (they’d tell me where they wanted to go, and I had memorized all the cruises, ships, etc.).

Yeah, I was a weird kid (and am still weird, so not much has changed).

Then I fell out of love with cruises

I don’t know at exactly what age it happened, but eventually I lost interest in cruises overnight. I’m not sure there’s a good reason for it, or if it’s just that I moved on. On some level I was put off by cruises.

At the time we typically took cruises that cost under $100 per day, and I asked myself “what kind of corners are they cutting that make these kinds of prices possible?”

So I went from loving cruises to not putting any thought into them.

I do recognize that over the years cruise lines have innovated, but still, I haven’t had much interest:

  • While cruise ships are getting more amenities, there are now ships with 6,000+ people, and that just seems like a chore in terms of getting on, getting off, etc.
  • While there are smaller ships and higher end cruises, it seems that they’re very much targeted at retirees/seniors; it could be that my impression is wrong, and there’s nothing wrong with that really, but I get the impression we wouldn’t fit in very well

Why Ritz-Carlton cruises got me interested again

A couple of years ago Ritz-Carlton announced their entry into the cruising world with Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. At the time I didn’t put much thought into it, though not too long ago I realized that they started selling journeys, and I started to get interested.

I suppose my interest really originated based on the name — as a Marriott loyalist now, the thought of a floating Ritz-Carlton intrigues me.

The more research I did, the more I actually loved the concept. They’ll be rolling out three yachts over the coming years, with the first one setting sail in February 2020 (actually, I just realized that the very first cruise sets sail one year from today).

While most cruise ships keep getting bigger, this is different, as it really does seem like more of a yacht than a cruise ship.

The Ritz-Carlton yacht has about 150 rooms, so at most can accommodate 300 guests. Best of all, all rooms are exterior facing and have balconies. The smaller ship interests me for a variety of reasons, including that they can sail to smaller ports that other ships can’t go to, and also that I feel like getting on and off the ship at ports won’t be like other cruise ships, where as a kid I remember you sometimes had to line up for an hour.

Seriously, how swanky-looking is this ship?!

Unlike other big ships, this one doesn’t have water slides, massive shopping malls, etc. Rather it just seems like a tastefully designed, smaller ship. Here are some renderings:

For anyone wondering, here’s the deck plan for their ship.

There are some other cool things. While Ritz-Carlton cruises aren’t cheap, at least they include all basic alcoholic drinks, all food, all gratuities, wifi, etc. So they’re not nickel-and-diming you in the same way that other cruise lines are.

Where are Ritz-Carlton cruises sailing?

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection launches in February 2020, and as of now there’s just a single ship. They have an awesome variety of cruises, ranging from Caribbean cruises, to European cruises, to transatlantic cruises. You can find the full listing of cruises here.

In addition to some more “typical” cruises, these two stood out to me:

How expensive are Ritz-Carlton cruises?

In terms of pricing, it varies based on the itinerary you’re looking at. As a general rule of thumb, it looks like for the cheapest cruises, rates start at about $540 per person per day based on double occupancy (on other cruises entry level rates are much higher).

Obviously that’s still a lot, but frankly I was expecting it to be more expensive, especially given all the things that are included.

I mean, heck, the Ritz-Carlton Aruba, which is a resort factory that doesn’t even look nice, costs over $1,000 per night per room in peak season not including anything, so by comparison this is a bargain.

Personally we decided to book one of the first sailings in the Caribbean, so that I can review the ship only shortly after it launches. It was also one of the cheaper cruises in terms of the cost per day.

How to book a Ritz-Carlton cruise

You can’t directly book Ritz-Carlton cruises online, so you have two options:

  • You can either call Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and talk to someone on the phone
  • You can work with a travel advisor who can hopefully make the process a bit easier, can work by email, etc.; Ford has some experience having booked our cruise, and would be happy to help (and can get you the same pricing/he doesn’t charge a fee), and can be reached at [email protected] (and other travel advisors are also welcome to leave their contact info below)

Bottom line

I’m really intrigued by Ritz-Carlton cruises, and can’t wait to sail on one of their first voyages. I’m still undecided as to whether this will rekindle my love for cruises or not, but either way I think it should make an interesting story. It’ll also be Ford’s first ever cruise.

I’m curious how you guys feel about cruises in general, and if anyone else is considering a Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection cruise? 

Comments

  1. We’ve been on Windstar, Viking, Seabourn and Silversea — love them all for different reasons. The new Ritz-Carlton ship looks like a dream! We love the 300 passenger size (it’s like the old Windstar). It’s much more expensive than the ships we’ve been on but it is oh so chic. I hope to talk my husband into going on at least one Ritz-Carlton cruise. We’ll see. [the Mallorca itinerary is my first choice]

  2. I booked this morning, my wife and son do a Disney Cruise at least once a year, and the Ritz Cruise was literally 300 dollars less, go figure.

  3. I share your sentiments exactly. My family took us on some big factory cruises as a kid – loved it then but as an adult i’ve said no way i’ll ever vacation that way again. But those renderings look really nice – i’d be tempted to give it a try.

  4. Someone would need to pay ME to spend a day on a cruise ship but whatever floats your boat. I am sure the report will be fun to read

  5. Ben – would this mean a potential Icelandair review, given that both itineraries have Reykjavik as a start and/or end point ?

  6. I was intrigued too when they sent me the email, but after looking through I concluded that it is too big for being intimate/personalized and too small to have all usual amenities. Plus it is too expensive too – comparing with overpriced Ritz-Carlton is fine, but if I compare it to $300 per night Shangri-La or $800 per night Aman… different take. While Ritz-Carlton has a recognizable brand, the huge discrepancies in service levels within their brand are hurting them in this luxury market. There are plenty of dedicated luxury cruise lines with same (even smaller) ships pulling it off with 1:1 crew-passenger ratio, and yet they cost the same as Ritz. Ritz is facing an uphill battle, indeed.

    Enough with sour grapes from me, if this ever gets bookable by points, I’ll transfer everything and a kitchen sink to experience it. And I’m not cruise aficionado.

  7. @ Aaron Fine — Sadly Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has no involvement with Marriott Bonvoy, at least as of now. I am curious what they’ll do there. More cruise lines have loyalty programs, so you’d think it would be smart of them to integrate the cruises into Marriott Bonvoy in some way. I’m curious to see what they’ll do.

  8. @ Peter Cetera — Hah, I *really* want to do that, but I decided to instead book one of the first sailings, since I think that would make a more useful review. If we end up liking it, it probably won’t be our last cruise.

  9. @ mk — We booked the second cruise. It included basically everything except spa treatments, premium alcohol, premium internet, and shore excursions.

  10. Lucky,
    Since this is Ritz Carlton, is there any recognition for having Marriott status? Elite night credit given, points given for booking? It is a very interesting concept, I’m just wondering if they are leveraging their frequent guest base. And yes, I checked the website, but didn’t see a clear answer from RC.

  11. The pics look highly photoshopped.
    Here’s hoping it turns out well or into a swiss-style lawsuit. Either will be fun to read.

  12. @ Pete — As of now they aren’t doing that, which seems like a missed opportunity. However, I suspect they will announce something before the first ship sets sail, since loyalty programs even among cruise lines are common nowadays.

  13. I have considered the Ritz Carlton Cruise or the Cunard Cruises – the main deterrent is my dislike of being stuck in an area for extended hours and secondly, I prefer to spend more than a day at a destination.

  14. Any reason you chose Ritz? There are established luxury cruise lines such as Seabourn and Silversea. Just curious

  15. Getting excited based on artists renderings? I have some 2020 Fyre Festival VIP passes you might be interested in.

  16. Lucky – it’s time for you to “man up” and take a RSVP or Atlantis cruise!! Now that’s where the fun is. Quite frankly, this cruise looks to be boring and way beyond your age bracket. Live a little and go on a FUN cruise!! You and Ford might have some actual fun!

  17. It looks awesome, but I just can’t justify a cruise over a high-end all-inclusive that generally will cost half of that price, or less, for a great adult-only experience. I feel it is a trade off between the boat + ability to travel around vs a much larger living quarters, true all-inclusive (although this boat apparently is) and many more things to do at any time.

  18. Regarding Bonvoy, it is a bit hidden, but they state that benfits will be published later:

    The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection offers the freedom to explore life’s most extraordinary experiences. Shortly, we will announce loyalty benefits for members of Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG. We look forward to recognizing our valued loyalty members and welcoming you aboard your private yachting oasis.

    So could be very intersting

  19. excellent news! i was planning to make a booking sometime in next 2 months for a late Q1 2020 sail. This article is perfectly JIT.

  20. I work in the cruise industry. You’ll be the youngest person on that ship by multiple decades (the crew is a different story).

    Hope you enjoy it regardless.

  21. @Andrew

    Yeah, I’m with Lucky on this one. The guests at the smaller, luxurious ones that seem most appealing (Sea Cloud) are multiple decades older than I am.

  22. I’ve never been interested in cruises for the same reasons @Lucky describes. But then I came across Seabourn and Silversea which seemed more our style. Trying out the Silversea Galapagos this year which will be our first cruise. Still, I am worried that it will be geared more towards seniors as we’re a young-ish couple!

  23. @Ben Thank you for the Little Lucky story! It’s inclusion of such stories that make this blog. Of course I love all of the practical information too. Keep up the fantastic work!

  24. I’m 30 and did a solo Silversea cruise last year…and I could have been everyone’s grandson on that cruise. It was an amazing experience but I got a bit bored after a few days, would imagine it to be the same for this.

  25. wow, the renderings look amazing (please read my sarcasm there)

    I gave up on cruises after my sister-in-law was on the Carnival Princess that caught fire in the Caribbean in 2006 and my best friend was on the Carnival Splendor that lost all engine power 200 miles south of San Diego and had to be towed home in 2010.

    Now, my parents have loved Viking river cruises in Europe. But I think I’ll stick with flying and driving to see places!

  26. I was actually intrigued by this when I got the email from Marriott some days ago. But, god, it’s a cruise. I’ll wait until I am 70.

  27. I remember 10 years ago or so Four Seasons had plans to launch a cruise ship (maybe even a residence ship). It was rumored to be called The Magellan. Obviously this idea never got out of the dock, but I wonder if this makes them take another look at the cruise market.

  28. I can appreciate bloggers rush to review to generate unique content before their competition. Much more helpful, though, would be the blogger that waits. After all, there’s only one inaugural flight or cruise (I recognize that you’ll be on the second cruise), which can be very different from the customer experience once the flight or cruise has been established. Compare this Q&A from the Times on why they wait before reviewing restaurants.

    How long does The Times wait before reviewing a restaurant?

    There is no firm rule, but new places tend not to get reviewed until they are at least two months old. This is for the benefit of readers, not the chefs. Menus, service styles and employees can change rapidly during a restaurant’s infancy, so most regular critics will wait until things have settled down a bit.

  29. I like this Ben, I enjoy your blog and trip reports, but must admit some variety into the cruise world is welcomed, especially from someone such as myself who has never taken a cruise.

  30. If we’re being honest this is not a Ritz-Carlton cruise. It’s a cruising company that has paid Marriott a tidy sum of money to license the name. This is a potential problem for Marriott, if the company doesn’t keep up standards or has P.R. scandals as that will adversely impact Ritz-Carlton. Then again, as someone else said, Ritz-Carlton’s standards have been slipping for years and now, at best, the brand is faux luxury and is highly inconsistent. Just look at all the Ritz-Carlton resorts. St. Regis offers a much more consistent experience across its properties.

  31. @FNT Delta Diamond – You do realize most Marriott hotels also are not actually owned by Marriott, right?

    As for me, I share Favid Foster Wallace’s view on cruises (see A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again).

  32. I’m a luxury travel agent with Ritz-Carlton expertise. I worked for the Ritz-Carlton for 18 years prior to opening my travel agency, Sunia Travel Concierge. In 2017, I received an award from the Ritz-Carlton for being their top 50 producing travel agent worldwide.

    I’ll be delighted to assist in booking your Ritz-Carlton Yacth vacation. Receive same price, my expertise and concierge service from my agency.

    Reach out to me at [email protected]

  33. So it’s just like a hotel but with fewer facilities and you can’t leave for the majority of your trip. Sounds fun…

  34. Will be interested in hearing how this cruise is. Thought about booking with them too, but their itineraries seem deadly dull, intended for the over 80 crowd. Would be nice if they thought about going somewhere other than Europe and the Caribbean.

  35. Crystal Cruises offers a similar product as well as ~900 guest ships. The beauty of cruising is you don’t have to keep switching hotel rooms.

  36. I love Seadream yachts . They only have 90 passenger and they have great itineraries in the Mediterranean and Carribean .
    Luxury at its best !

  37. Lucky – We cruise a lot, typically on Seabourn, Crystal, etc. Call around for a travel agent who will give you 10% off the cruise fare. The bigger Internet agencies have very competitive pricing. If you book direct with the cruise line, you generally get nothing off. Even if you’re already booked, your personal travel agent may be able to take over the booking and give you a better deal.

    As an aside, Seabourn seems to be quite popular with well-heeled gay couples, some of whom are not a million years old.

  38. Having cruised on Crystal, Seabourn and Windstar, I’ve realized luxury cruises are just not my cup of tea. The average age onboard is just way too old.

    If you dislike cruises because the average person onboard is a retiree, then I can’t see this being any different.

  39. Does Amex Platinu. Give you any perks on Ritz Carlton? They certainly do on Silversea which is one reason we prefer Silversea.

  40. I love cruises, but only on smaller ships, the size of the forthcoming Ritz Carlton new builds or less. I would urge you and Ford to consider booking an Antarctic cruise with PONANT, a very upscale French cruise line based in Marseille. They currently have 12 vessels and, like Ritz Carlton, are all inclusive including tips, alcoholic beverages and wi fi access (important to you). https://us.ponant.com/

  41. I am chuckling at people asking about Bonvoy recognition! Hell Marriott can’t figure out how to manage their landlubbers so how do you expect them to get their sailboat right? You are picking a cruise company based on loyalty tie in with no sailing experience and their company is still in disarray on land and they aren’t even recognizing your loyalty. Think of sailing with the same management that just merged SPG with Marriott and I think I would sleep in my life preserver!

  42. @tda: Yes, I know that Marriott doesn’t own most of their hotels. They do, however, operate a majority of their hotels internationally and, within North America, operate most of their luxury hotels. But there’s a huge difference between franchising hotels or managing hotels owned by someone else and licensing your name to a cruise ship that won’t participate in any of the hotel’s programs, isn’t bookable through the hotel, and won’t fall under the Ritz-Carlton standards. Ask Tommy Hilfiger how licensing your name to products unrelated to your core business worked out for him. Or ask Trump. It never ends well. Period.

  43. We do about 3 cruises per year, but on the mainstream cruise lines. I look at value for money and I find Celebrity floats my boat, no pun intended. Their top ships are rated as good as those costing 1000’s more. I think a small ship is just right for the smaller ports in Europe and I would do those. This spring we will be leaving from Dublin to go to Iceland for several stops. Probably alot less than the Ritz.

  44. @ Lucky I totally agree with you as to having a preference for small cruise ships (300 guests or less) , but trying to avoid those which target retirees. Considering your interests and preferences, based on my own experience, I would strongly recommend that you and Ford consider booking an antarctic explorer cruise with PONANT. PONANT is a luxury, French small ship cruise company with an excellent reputation and, like the forthcoming Ritz Carlton new builds, is equally all inclusive. https://us.ponant.com/

  45. Check in again with us when this thing actually gets launched. It’s being built by Spanish shipbuilder Barreras. This is the very first cruise ship Barreras has built. They usually build passenger ferries and container ships. They’ve admitted in interviews that doing the interiors has been challenging as it’s all new to them. HVAC and wastewater systems all more complex than a ferry. The first ship is not slated to be launched until the latter part of this year, add in time for sea trials and there is not a lot flexibility in delivery schedule should there be overruns.

  46. You and Ford should look into getting the Haven on NCL. You get a butler and concierge plus a quieter space on the ship with it’s own dining and pool. They also have spa Haven suites where you get access to the thermal spa.

  47. Excited to read your review. I have always loved cruising- but found I REALLY love SeaDream. Small. Younger crowd. Very nice. I imagine this will be similar.

  48. I’ll be interested in these reviews, if for no other reason than diversity

    Of course the average age on that cruise will be 75. But 75 year old people can be quite amazing. Really, they can.
    Last year I went to a resort where I was 20+ younger than the other guests. Had a blast.
    Why? Cause I’m not looking to hook up (married) and don’t need to party like I’m 27.

    To those suggesting RSVP or Atlantis
    First of all it’s not Lucky’s scene, despite the gay aspect
    Also, not of interest to OMAAT general readership
    (But I’d kill to read Luckys 7 day circuit party review!)

    Brand G would be a better choice, but again it’s of little interest to OMAAT readership.

    Ritz has name recognition
    Its “luxury” and aspirational
    And best of all, it sparked a flame in Lucky’s heart

    What better way to whet our appetites?

  49. I booked an April 2020 Ritz yacht itinerary several months ago and I think it is going to be amazing. Definitely targeting high-end travelers so I think it will be more upscale than many of todays cruise lines. Can’t wait!!

  50. @lucky So, I actually emailed them a while ago to ask them about their plans for a rewards program (either the Marriott one or otherwise) and they had this to say:
    We are working on our own rewards program.
    This will be post it on our web page, and yes, points will be earned on our voyages.
    More soon to come…

    Any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Best regards.

    Marilen Lorenzo
    Yacht Vacation Consultant
    The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

  51. After reading your reviews for the last year and becoming an avid follower, I find it quite interesting that you decided on the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection to begin your cruising adventures..I’ve been keeping up with their progress since they announced, many months ago…as a seasoned cruiser, I will hold off on booking with them until they get their “sea legs”..I’ve never met you, but from reading your articles, I can tell, you like to get the most for your buck traveling First Class..do yourself a favor and check out Regent….no bait and switch…everything inclusive, including business class airfare…you would probably forgo the airfare because of your miles and reduce your fare…there is no comparison…I’ve done them all…I love Ritz hotels, but I don’t want to be on their first sailing…
    Keep up the great work…your site is one of a kind…you should be proud..

  52. Looks nice & all, & depends on how long you actually intend to spend with the affluent elderly, but looks like a very expensive “get me off this thing now” moment coming you boys way.

  53. We’ve been on Seabourn a few times in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean (3 ships with 450 passengers and 2 with 600) and the clientele is hardly seniors only. There’s a good age variety and everyone is extremely well traveled and interesting and, as mentioned above, it’s a very gay friendly line. The two newest 600 passenger ships were designed by Adam Tihany, so that should get the immediate attention of hotel and dining aficionados. Seabourn is the definition of ultra luxury, all inclusive small ship cruising. From personal experience, if the Ritz Carlton yachts are better than Seabourn, I’d be very surprised.

  54. “…. and can’t wait to sale on one of their first voyages. ”

    Sail maybe?

    The rendition of the back of the lowest deck looks scary. It looks like you can ‘step into the ocean’. Go easy on the grog !!

  55. Ben, using AMX-Platinum to deposit and make final pay yields $300 to $500 (centurion card) when booking with AMX using their cruise privileges program.

    Ritz Carlton not yet an AMX cruise privileges member. We use to book our cruises with AMX-P, now with CSR offering 3X points for Travel–this is the better card to use to book your cruise. For example booking a $15K cruise yields either 45000 Chase points or $450 cash.

    Fair Winds and Following Seas on your Ritz Carlton voyage!

  56. I am really tired of the people who are suggesting this will only be retires. I think they are wrong in this assessment. The people I know that have booked the Ritz yacht range in age from 35-55, not exactly retire age.

    Lucky, Good for you for giving this a look. I think you will be impressed. All accomodations are suites and the small passenger size, less than 200 are extremely applealing to me.

  57. Correction to my last post, less than 300 passengers.

    This is a unique product and I can’t wait to give it a try!

  58. Lucky, consider yourself and Ford welcome to come for a cruise on my private yacht whenever it is convenient for you.

  59. “there are now ships with 6,000+ people, and that just seems like a chore in terms of getting on, getting off, etc.”

    This is only an issue if you travel during kid season. The 6,000 capacity assumes everyone has 4 people per room, which is actually true in July.

    Sail in January or February, or late April, and you can knock out 1,500 people because there are no kids. So everyone is 2 people per cabin, and lots of cabins sail empty.

    Had an amazing time on the Anthem of the Seas in late January. There must have been 50 kids on board, so we were able to do all the “family” activities with zero lines. Even got to do the sky diving three (3) times.

    You might also be interested in the “ship within a ship” concept some of the lines are trying. Im not a fan, but it seems like something up your alley. Basically an entire section of the ship available only to the rich folks. A private pool, private sundeck, private restaurant etc, but you are of course able to access everything else on the ship that requires a larger customer base (ie, a Broadway style show)

  60. I really love smaller ships and these look gorgeous. Smaller ships can usually get into ports that are too small for the mega ships without tendering which is tedious and a time suck. Curious to know if there are formal nights. That is what keeps us off of Crystal and Seaborne…Regent has no formal nights and cruises are all inclusive (alcohol, excursions). No way am I going to lug an evening gown and tux on vacation. Someone mentioned Ponant earlier..am looking forward to trying them out. And a friend who is an avid cruiser (3 or 4 per year) just tried Azamara and thought it was an excellent experience. How the line trains their staff is a critical part of the cruise experience. To paraphase, “happy crew, happy cruise!”
    Finally, my neighbors (aged 37 and 42) just booked a cruise with Ritz so the myth of it being only retirees is once again proven wrong.

  61. Never like cruises because of the crowds on board. But I’m looking forward to this. I don’t mind going on a cruise with retirees. At my age I just want peace, relaxation and sightsee. No more dancing and staying up late for me.

  62. I am going in a few weeks. I have been on 2. NCL and DCL. Both were amazing. Disney is high priced for a reason. It’s fabulous IMO. I have a hard time enjoying myself with 3rd world staff attending to my every need so I’m not a cruiser type. I’m excited cause it’s been years and only my 3rd. We do tough travel itineraries and I knew my children would enjoy a cruise for a change.

  63. I look forward to your review! I too loved cruises as a kid (independence from parents maybe?) but then lost interest as an adult. Last year my wife and I took a small boat adventure cruise to Alaska which was beyond amazing but was totally full of seniors. Not that it’s a bad thing, we had a great time with the other guests (80 in total), but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Will be curious to hear about the demographic on your cruise!

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