The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection could grow its fleet to as many as eight ships, although its boss has ruled out opening a UK base.
Chief executive Douglas Prothero said the line was also developing an app as part of its onboard technology strategy and would eliminate single-use plastics such as water bottles by offering guests refillable bottles and adding more refill points.
Prothero said the line, which currently has three 194-suite vessels on order, the first launching in 2020, would build “as many ships as makes sense”, “seven or eight” being his preferred amount.
“We know if we build 15 yachts we would be able to fill them, but we are never going to go that far because we don’t think that would make us a niche product,” he said.
Prothero spoke to TTG on Thursday last week (June 21), almost a year to the day the luxury hotel brand announced it was entering the cruise sector. He also strongly hinted Marriott International would increase its reach into the cruise sector through other hotel brands in future.
Pushed on which companies that might be, Prothero added: “Let me put it this way, we wouldn’t add another premium luxury brand. It doesn’t make sense and we wouldn’t build smaller ships.
“For Ritz-Carlton, 149 suites is appropriate, so we wouldn’t go smaller than that. We’ll build say seven or eight of this [Yacht Collection] type and then we will add some other [Marriott] brands.”
Prothero said the line, which put its itineraries on general sale through the trade on June 11, had no plans to create a UK-based team. “We intend to work with trade in UK but we don’t have plans to open an office,” he said.
“Our team in Malta looks after calls from the UK and Europe. With our sales team in North America and a global team at Marriott, we feel we can drive traffic through the Malta office.
“We have lots of interface with UK agents at trade events and conferences so I think if you add up all the access to the trade we have in the UK, we have got a good presence already.”
Regarding The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s onboard technology, Prothero revealed the line was developing an app and would use RFID technology akin to Princess Cruises’ Ocean Medallion.
“Guests should be able to open their suite door with their smartphone, control the TV, order room service, make a spa reservation and book an excursion,” he said.