Another delay for the first Ritz-Carlton cruise ship puts it 31 months behind schedule

Jun 21, 2022

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Remember that story we posted a few days ago about how the debut of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection might finally be at hand? Nevermind.

The new cruising arm of luxury hotel chain Ritz-Carlton on Tuesday said it had pushed back the unveiling of its much-awaited first vessel, the 298-passenger Evrima, for a seventh time.

In a statement sent to TPG, the company said a prolonged metalworkers strike in the Cantabria region of Spain of late had interrupted the construction process of the ship.

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The vessel’s construction is being finished at the Astander Shipyard in the port city of Santander, Spain, which is in the Cantabria region.

“After making significant progress on Evrima and recently conducting a series of successful sea trials, it is upsetting to have faced interruptions that are outside of our control. However, the safety and wellbeing of those working on the ship are our top priority,” The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection CEO Douglas Prothero said in a statement sent to TPG.

The statement said the company was rescheduling Evrima’s debut for Aug. 31, nearly four weeks later than it was targeting after the sixth delay to the ship was announced three months ago.

The statement noted that the workers at the Astander Shipyard and its subcontractors are not involved in the metalworkers strike in the Cantabria region. However, it said violent protestors have repeatedly gathered at the shipyard’s gates, making it difficult for workers and subcontractors to safely access the facilities.

Disruptions by striking metalworkers are just the latest excuse the line has offered for repeated delays to the unveiling of Evrima that now have stretched well into a third year.

Evrima was originally scheduled to begin sailing in February of 2020. But what the line described as problems at Hijos de J. Barreras — the shipyard in Vigo, Spain, where Evrima initially was under construction — led to two significant delays to its construction in 2020 that initially pushed back its arrival by 14 months.

Four more delays announced in 2021 and early 2022, all blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic, subsequently pushed back the line’s debut by another 16 months.

With the latest delay, the arrival of Evrima is now about 31 months behind schedule — a backup of a magnitude rarely seen in the cruise shipbuilding space.

Ritz-Carlton Evrima
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s first vessel, Evrima, is designed to have a yacht-like feel. (Image courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection)

To be fair, supply chain issues and staffing shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused delays for a number of ships on order for other lines since the pandemic began in early 2020. However, in most cases, the delays have amounted to just a few weeks or months.

The longer delay in the construction of Evrima suggests a bigger problem at Hijos de J. Barreras — one that some industry watchers have said could have been foreseen. The shipyard had no experience building luxury cruise vessels before winning the order for Evrima in 2017. The company got its start building fishing vessels, which was its specialty for many years. It has built ferries, container ships and other specialized vessels in the past.

Related: Virgin Voyages, Seabourn delay new ship launches

Evrima, still unfinished, was moved last year from the Hijos de J. Barreras shipyard to the Astander Shipyard — the latter a facility that specializes in ship conversions and repair projects.

Most major cruise lines that order new cruise ships do so from such long-established cruise ship builders as Germany’s Meyer Werft and Italy’s Fincantieri. These shipyards have decades of experience building cruise vessels and a wide network of suppliers that specialize in components used in cruise ship construction.

In March, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection announced that the line’s next two ships after Evrima would be built by the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France, another shipyard with far more experience in cruise ship building than Hijos de J. Barreras. The two new vessels, which will be bigger than Evrima, are scheduled to debut in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Assuming that Evrima finally does debut on Aug. 31, it will begin service with a 10-night trip from Piraeus, Greece (the port for Athens) to Venice, Italy, that will include stops at Parga and Corfu, Greece; Dubrovnik, Korcula and Rovinj, Croatia; and Koper, Slovenia.

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has touted Evrima as an upscale, yacht-like vessel that will appeal to Ritz-Carlton regulars with an elegant, residential look. The company promises spacious cabins, a stylish spa, lots of deck-top lounge space for sunning and five separate restaurants. The dining venues, notably, will include an a la carte restaurant designed by Sven Elverfeld of the three Michelin-starred Aqua in the Ritz-Carlton Wolfsburg, Germany.

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Featured image, an artist’s drawing of Evrima, courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.

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