The cruise line that just won’t sail: Ritz-Carlton delays yacht debut again

Aug 27, 2021

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New luxury cruise line Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has delayed its foray into the industry again — for the fifth time — citing shipyard issues due to COVID-19.

“While we are eager to welcome guests onboard Evrima, we have had to reevaluate the timing of our first voyage given the rapidly changing circumstances and their impact on Evrima’s completion,” Douglas Prothero, CEO of the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, said in a statement. “We remain excited to set sail in the spring and thank our guests for their understanding and patience as we continue to navigate this unprecedented global environment.”

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Evrima floated out (when a new ship touches water for the first time so the builders can make sure it floats) in late 2018, well before the pandemic began, but still wasn’t set to sail its original inaugural voyage until early 2020.

“Typically, a prototype float-out to inaugural sailing time gap is 12 to 14 months,” Prothero explained in an email. “Unfortunately, we experienced significant additional delays related to management challenges at the Hijos de J. Barreras shipyard, and those delays were followed immediately by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted the entire global shipbuilding and leisure sectors in profound ways.”

Due to temporary pandemic-related shipyard shutdowns, several cruise lines did have to push back the start dates for new-builds that were under construction in 2020. However, none of the others was delayed this significantly or as many times.

Considering that the Ritz-Carlton name is new to the cruise world, it’s understandable that they might have miscalculated how long it would realistically take to get Evrima up and running in the current climate. But now, travelers eager to try the renowned brand’s newest offshoot will have to wait another six months, with the rescheduled maiden voyage set for May 6, 2022, from Lisbon, Portugal.

So far, the inaugural has been pushed back:

TPG has received emails from both travel agents and passengers who were booked on the latest sailing to be postponed. They have indicated frustration with the line, with some opting to take refunds and move their vacation dollars to other luxury cruise lines instead.

“I am now trying to rebook [four of] my clients on Silversea,” travel agent Carol Furst Matulonis, who has spent several days fielding cancellations and rebookings, told TPG in an email. “I want my life back,” she said.

Despite the continued shuffling of reservations, which has left travel agents scrambling to reschedule or cancel bookings for their clients, Ritz-Carlton isn’t offering anything (besides the chance to rebook) to passengers for the inconvenience — a departure from the level of customer service that is standard in the cruise industry.

“They’ve had my money for 3 years, didn’t offer [a] discount on [the] future booking or to cover my flight cost for the cruise that is now canceled,” The Points Guy reader Tod Brown said in an initial email to TPG.

Brown, a Lifetime Platinum Marriott Bonvoy member, spoke with a cruise line representative who was unable to offer compensation without escalating it to a manager.

Later, Brown let us know that the line contacted him and offered to provide the same discount he received for his canceled booking if he carried it forward to a new one. He also was offered $500 in onboard credit to offset the cost of two flight change fees associated with the trip. (Note that Ritz’s cruise fares are all-inclusive, so onboard credit is, perhaps, less useful than it might be on other lines, where drinks, gratuities and some dining cost extra.)

“I still plan on booking a future cruise with them to experience their services at sea (at least once since we’ve waited this long),” Brown said.

“We have had incredibly supportive calls with our booked guests in the last few days,” Prothero said, when asked what he’d say to passengers thinking of taking refunds instead of rebooking. “To our loyal guests who have been impacted by a delay, we thank them for their patience and understanding — trust me when I say that no one wants to set sail as badly as we do.

“We are laser-focused on providing guests with a highly customized, state-of-the-art build that will put Evrima in a class of its own, in addition to delivering a guest experience that is unlike anything else at sea today — blending the legendary service of The Ritz-Carlton brand with unique and distinctive itineraries that are incredibly personalized and culturally immersive. It will be worth the wait.”

Featured photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.

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