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Ritz-Carlton Azora

Former name: Ritz-Carlton Yacht 1

Ritz-Carlton Azora Review and Specifications

Specifications of Ritz-Carlton Azora

Year built2020 new ship
BuilderBarreras Shipyard (Vigo, Spain)
ClassMega Yacht
Building costEUR 290 million (USD 320 million)
OwnerMarriott International Inc (via The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC)
OperatorThe Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
Speed18 kn / 33 kph / 21 mph
Length (LOA)190 m / 623 ft
Beam (width)24 m / 79 ft
Gross Tonnage26500 gt
Passengers214 - 298
Crew246
Decks10
Cabins149
Decks with cabins5
Former namesRitz-Carlton Yacht 1
Christened bytba

Review of Ritz-Carlton Azora

Scheduled for inauguration in February 2020, Ritz-Carlton's Azora ship (aka "Ritz-Carlton One" / name to be changed by 2019-Q4) is the first of all three ultra-luxury expedition yachts owned by Marriott International Inc (shipowner). The mega-yacht is operated by The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection (cruise brand and subsidiary of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company).

History - construction and ownership

Ritz-Carlton's cruise brand "The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection" is a Miami-headquartered (Coconut Grove) new company owned by Marriott International Inc via its subsidiary The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC.

On June 22, 2017, the 5-star hotel brand Ritz-Carlton announced its privately-owned cruise line brand, with a planned start in 2019. Company's fleet consists of 3 newbuilds, with a shipbuilding option to expand to 5 vessels. Ritz-Carlton's cruise company was created by Douglas Prothero (CEO, founder of Canadian Maritime Group) and Lars Clasen (Managing Director, former President of AIDA Cruises).

Ritz-Carlton Azora cruise ship

The 190-m long, 300-passenger ship Azora was designed by Tillberg Design (Sweden) as a "mega-yacht - cruise ship" hybrid. The custom-built superyacht was even dubbed "anti-cruise ship".

Ritz-Carlton Azora cruise ship

Cruise itinerary program

On February 1, 2020, Ritz-Carlton Azora departs on 4-day Inaugural Cruise from Fort Lauderdale FL to Key West FL and Bimini Islands. Previously, the company announced starting operations in November 2019. Yacht's delivery was planned for 2019-Q4, but reset the date to coincide with "Super Bowl LIV" at Dolphins Stadium (Miami FL). The maiden voyage kicks off a Caribbean itinerary program extending through March 28, when is scheduled a 12-day Transatlantic repositioning crossing to from Barbados to Lisbon.

In Europe, Ritz-Carlton's first Mediterranean cruise is an 8-day itinerary roundtrip from Lisbon to Gibraltar, Valencia, Malaga, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca. With this voyage, the 298-passenger ship starts an inaugural season in the Mediterranean extending through July (2020). On July 5 is scheduled a 9-day itinerary from Bordeaux to London UK that visits the French ports Belle-Ile, St Malo, Honfleur and St Peter Port (Guernsey, Channel Islands). From London, the mega-yacht cruises in northern Europe prior to the North Atlantic crossing from Iceland to Halifax (departure September 12).

Follow Canada-New England itineraries, starting with a 7-day voyage from Halifax. On October 27, the ship repositions to the Caribbean again with a 9-day itinerary from Boston to Nassau.

Ritz-Carlton cruise fares are inclusive of onboard accommodation, dining, beverages (including alcoholic), gratuities (shipboard tipping) and Wi-Fi. A 5% discount is offered with the booking of 2 or more B2Bs (back-to-back itineraries).

Cabins

The cruise ship has 149 staterooms, all of which are balcony suites with tall ceilings (including two Duplex Suites / on 2 levels). The fore-located Owner Suites are ship's largest cabins, featuring upper suite living area, floor-ceiling windows (for 270-degree views) and huge wraparound veranda (with private plunge pool).

Staterooms include 27x Signature Suites, 18x Grand Suites, 12x Loft Suites, 90x Terrace Suites. Loft Suites are duplexes (bedroom on the lower level). Terrace Suites are connecting cabins (with a soundproof blind wall in between) easily combined to reduce the cabins number from 149 to 107 (when the mega-yacht is privately chartered). Cabin categories include:

  • Owners Suite (1100 ft2 / 102 m2) plus balcony (590 ft2 / 55 m2)
  • View Suite (625 ft2 / 58 m2) plus balcony (95 ft2 / 9 m2)
  • Loft Suite (700 ft2 / 65 m2) plus balcony (75 ft2 / 7 m2)
  • Grand Suite (635 ft2 / 59 m2) plus balcony (110 ft2 / 10 m2)
  • Signature Mid-Suite / Signature Suite (475 ft2 / 44 m2) plus balcony (100 ft2 / 9 m2)
  • Terrace Mid-Suite / Terrace Suite (310 ft2 / 29 m2) plus balcony (65 ft2 / 6 m2)

Standard (complimentary) cabin amenities and services include:

  • private balcony (accessed via floor-ceiling sliding glass doors) with outdoor furniture (low tables, deckchairs, padded sun loungers)
  • custom-made King-size bed with premium sleeping system and top-luxury bedding. Linens are produced exclusively for the cruise company Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Hypoallergenic pillows are provided complimentary upon request.
  • en-suite bathroom (double-sink vanity area with under sink storage, separate WC, premium head shower system, hairdryer, robes, slippers, custom-made bath linens, luxury bath amenities)
  • flat HDTV (smart technology) with satellite reception, infotainment system (Internet, movies-on-demand, room service), ship info channel (cruise itinerary information, scheduled daily activities)
  • mirrored vanity (dressing table) with padded stool, lounge storage (cabinet) with shelves
  • seating area with modern armchairs and coffee table
  • complimentary minibar (refrigerator fully-stocked with beverages - craft beers, juices, soft drinks, bottled water)
  • Espresso coffee machine (complimentary capsules - coffee and tea)
  • phone, wardrobe, electronic safe box (in the closet)
  • 220-110 V power outlets, USB charging ports
  • Complimentary WiFi Internet
  • complimentary 24-hour room service and in-cabin dining
  • a complimentary chilled bottle of wine or champagne (upon boarding)
  • dedicated butler (Personal Concierge assistant)
  • individually controlled air-conditioning, LED lighting, modern light fixtures (recessed lights)

Shipboard dining options - Food and Drinks

Ritz-Carlton Azora yacht offers ultra-premium dining options at intimate venues with small seating capacity, opened around the clock and without assigned seats or fixed mealtimes. Passengers can eat whenever they want, rather than the traditional pre-set dining times customary on most companies. All-day and all-night dining in the comfort of guests' suites or on the terrace can be ordered from the 24-hour menu, as well as during regular hours from the MDR menu.

The dress code is Yacht Casual during the day for breakfast and lunch - shoes, shirts, and bathing suit cover-ups are required when the passengers are not at the pool. During the evening for dinner sleeveless t-shirts and bathing suits are not allowed and shoes and shirts are required throughout the vessel. The dress code in the specialty dining restaurant by Sven Elverfeld is Yacht Sophisticated and collared shirts are not required, but recommended. No formal nights are organized on board.

Ritz-Carlton Azora cruise ship

Follows the complete list of Ritz-Carlton Azora restaurants and food bars.

  • S.E.A. / Aqua Restaurant is via a partnership with celebrity chef Sven Elverfeld (3 Michelin stars) who presides over Ritz-Carlton's "Aqua" restaurant in Wolfsburg, Germany. Aqua Restaurant offers a la carte menu, an additional fee is applied and reservations required. 
  • Main Dining Room is ship's main (complimentary) restaurant with capacity 140 seats. The venue is designed to look like ten small restaurants, with plenty of nooks. The menu consists of locally inspired creations and changes daily to reflect the ports visited.
  • Talaat Nam / Asian Fusion Restaurant features creative interpretations of Southeast Asian cuisine that are paired with sophisticated luxury. This contemporary restaurant has a sushi bar and features a family-style table experience. Guests can also dine outside.
  • Outdoor Grill (lower Sundeck (with swimming pool) is served by Poolside Grill and Seafood Grill. This casual eatery offers from an early risers breakfast to late-night dining and serves various cuisines prepared a la minute in the open air space.
  • The Pool House offers frozen treats, refreshing water, and all-day dining. 
  • Mistral is a seafood bar for lunch or al fresco dinner. It features fresh local catches and prime cuts prepared to order from the grill. 

Shipboard entertainment options - Fun and Sport

The Azora ship offers destination-based activities (onboard performances by local artists and musicians), itinerary-based gourmet cuisine (with locally-sourced products and dishes prepared by local chefs). Onboard entertainment includes live performances (jazz and classical) and professional (expert-led) lectures and media presentations. During each voyage, local guests (artists, lecturers, chefs) board the ship for various entertainment acts throughout the cruise. The shipwide Wi-Fi is free of charge.

Ship's main social hubs are The Observation Lounge (top-deck) and The Living Room (ship entrance hall / Atrium Lobby lounge, also doubling as Cafe and Library). The ship doesn't have dedicated Theater (show lounge) or Casino (gambling lounge).

The mega-yacht has an aft marina platform for watersports, providing direct access to the sea. The marina is also used for open-air parties and other events. A selection of water toys (sea kayaks, paddleboards, snorkeling equipment) is provided complimentary to all passengers. The marina is connected to the indoors, forming an indoor-outdoor solarium (sundeck) which looks more like a cosy lounge than the usual sundeck. Above Sun Deck is the Helideck with a helipad (helicopter landing area) used in cases of emergency.

The open-air Marina Bar provides 270-degree sea views and is covered by a retractable glass roof. Marina Bar is operated as al fresco dining lounge by day and as disco nightclub in the evening. The venue serves a variety of made-to-order dishes prepared a la minute.

There are two infinity whirlpools, 2 swimming pools (1 shallow and 1 deep). The infinity-pool (aft on Deck 5) is also used for exercising (resistance swimming). Glass doors open to a sweeping staircase leading to Lido Deck (with an aft-located swimming pool / on the stern). The ship carries speedboats.

Due to fire and safety regulations, most of the ship's spaces are sectioned off and subdivided, with metal walls dividing restaurants from lounges and bars. Ritz-Carlton ships pioneered an open floorplan concept ("fluid and transparent") designed to "break down the traditional boundaries between dining and drinking areas".

Ritz-Carlton Azora cruise ship

Follows the complete list of Ritz-Carlton Azora lounges, clubs and other entertainment venues for kids, teens and adults.

  • The Bar is an intimate cocktail lounge serving premium brand liquors and premium Champagnes with caviar pairings.
  • The Humidor is a top-deck smoking lounge (part of Observation Lounge) where are also available for purchasing hand-rolled cigars and premium cognacs.
  • The top-deck located Observation Lounge is the best place for cocktails and socializing. At twilight, it is transformed into a late-night hangout with live entertainment.
  • The Living Room is where guests can try freshly baked pastries and roasted coffees at the espresso counter and bar. Ready-made culinary treats are available for day trips and late nights.
  • The Pool is steps away from the Pool House, where cruisers can enjoy frozen treats, refreshing water, and all-day dining. Sun loungers, deckchairs, banquettes, and whirlpools are available, along with a spacious spot for outdoor movies and open-air deck parties.
  • Ritz-Carlton Spa (Deck 9) is operated by Ritz-Carlton Hotels and provides indoor and outdoor treatments. Each massage room has its own private step-out balcony. Guests are able to pick if they wish a treatment indoor or outdoor. The Wellness complex also includes Relaxation Lounge, Medical Center, The Salon (full-service beauty parlor/hairdresser-manicure-pedicure), The Barber (grooming-barber services). Ship's Fitness is an indoor-outdoor Gym complex with equipment inside and outdoor exercise area for classes (yoga, pilates, aerobics, etc) and relaxation.
  • The Marina is the ship's watersports platform (aft-location), providing direct access to the sea and watersport equipment. It is also used for parties and other open-air events. A selection of water toys (sea kayaks, paddleboards) are launched from here and provided complimentary to all passengers. Glass doors open to the sweeping staircase leading to Lido / Pool Deck above (aft / on the ship's stern). The Marina is adjacent to an indoor/outdoor solarium (Marina Terrace) which is more a cozy lounge than a conventional sundeck.
  • Marina Terrace is an open-air deck space (served by Marina Bar) offering 270-degree panoramic views. This outdoor area is covered by a retractable glass roof and can be operated as al fresco dining lounge by day and as disco nightclub in the evenings. As a dining venue, Marina Terrace serves a variety of dishes prepared a la minute.
  • Ritz-Kids is ship's Kids Club (indoor playground) providing a complimentary educational and fun activity program for children. Enhanced kids entertainment and services are available during summer months and holidays.
  • Boutique Shop sells brand sportswear, fashion clothing and accessories, leather goods, premium jewelry and watches, brand perfumes and cosmetics. In select ports along the cruise itinerary, the onboard shopping experience is enhanced via collaborations with local artisans boarding the ship to showcase their unique handmade products.

Ritz-Carlton Azora wiki

Ritz-Carlton's shipbuilder is Astilleros Barreras Shipyard (Vigo Spain). Vessel's keel-laying ceremony was held on January 11, 2018. The special event was attended by Jose Garcia Costas (shipyard's Chairman), Fredrik Johannson (Tillberg Design's owner), Timothy Grisius (Marriott International's global real estate officer), Douglas Prothero (Ritz-Carlton Yacht's managing director).

On October 9, 2018, the vessel was launched (floated out from drydock) and moved to a shipyard pier for final outfitting. During the ceremony was also announced its initial name "Azora". In 2019, however, Ritz-Carlton decided to change the name and started to call the ship "Yacht 1" - until a new name is chosen.

Ritz-Carlton ship technology

The yacht is powered by MAN marine diesel engines, as opposed to the new trend of LNG-powered passenger ships. The diesel-electric propulsion is with common rail fuel injection, providing better fuel efficiency at various speeds. Ship's propulsion consists of two Azipods (by ABB). Azipod D are azimuth thrusters ideal for smaller sized vessels as they require lower installed power. Unit's electric drive motor is installed in the pod and submerged outside the hull, thus allowing more space for passenger cabins. The patented Azipod system also produces less vibration. The thrusters have the ability to turn 360 degrees which increases the ship's maneuverability and allows access to ports without the need of tugboat assistance.

Ritz-Carlton Azora cruise ship

The Azipods are part of ABB's medium voltage power plant. It also includes sensors producing real-time data that can be tracked from land-based facilities operated by both ABB Operations Centers and the customer. The Azipod thruster is approx 10% more fuel-efficient in comparison to shaft line propulsion systems. This results in a significant reduction of the vessel's operating costs and emissions. The lack of traditional rudders also allows the hull's hydrodynamics to be optimized.

"ABB Ability" is a remote diagnostic system using Microsoft Azure (cloud computing). It monitors the vessel's electrical systems and is connected 24-7 to ABB's infrastructure ashore. The system monitors all linked devices and sends real-time data analytics for maintenance (predictive and planned) and online support.

In late-September 2018, ABB contracted Raytheon Anschutz (Singapore-based manufacturer) to provide ship's Integrated Navigation System "Synapsis NX" (bridge and navigation equipment). Synapsis NX includes autopilot, track control, radars, navigation sensors, communications, multifunctional navigation workstations (with software).

The first Ritz-Carlton yacht had initial building cost / as ordered EUR 190 million (USD 225 million). During vessel's construction, due to design changes, the cost reached EUR 240 million (USD 260 million) and the vessel's delivery was rescheduled from November to December 2019. In August 2019, The shipbuilder (Barreras) demanded an additional EUR 50 million (USD 55 million) to finish the first Ritz-Carlton superyacht.

Ritz-Carlton's 3-ship project's equity investor is Oaktree Capital Management (Los Angeles USA-based global investment management firm). The shipbuilding order was supported by CESCE Espana (Madrid Spain-based insurance agency) and CaixaBank SA (fka Criteria CaixaCorp - one of Spain’s largest banks). 

Ritz-Carlton Inaugural cruise itineraries 2020

Ship's maiden voyage departs on February 5, 2020. The 10-night itinerary (booking code 11200205) is from Florida to Barbados. Prices started from EUR 9,200 / USD 10,400 per person (double occupancy Terrace Suite / balcony cabin rates).

Date / TimePort
05 Feb 21:00Departing from Fort Lauderdale, Port Everglades, Florida (homeport)
06-07 FebDay at Sea
08 Feb 09:00 - 17:00Samana, Dominican Republic (docked)
09 Feb 09:00 - 17:00Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (docked)
10 Feb 12:00 - 23:00San Juan, Puerto Rico (docked)
11 Feb 08:00 - 23:00Vieques Island, Puerto Rico (anchored)
12 Feb 13:00 - 20:00Charlestown, Nevis Island (docked)
13 Feb 08:00 - 18:00Terre-de-Haut Island, Guadeloupe (anchored)
14 Feb 08:00 - 18:00Fort-de-France, Martinique (docked)
15 Feb 07:00Arriving in Bridgetown, Barbados (homeport)

The next scheduled Ritz-Carlton cruises are between:

  • Bridgetown Barbados and Oranjestad Aruba (7-night, Feb 15-22) visiting Bequia (Saint Vincent/overnight), Mayreau (Saint Vincent), St George's (Grenada), Kralendijk (Saint Vincent), Willemstad (Curacao), with prices from EUR 4600 pp
  • Oranjestad to Bridgetown (7-night, Feb 22-29) visiting Kralendijk (St Vincent), Willemstad (Curacao), St George's (Grenada), Carriacou (Grenada/overnight), Bequia (St Vincent), with prices from EUR 4630 pp
  • 7-night Bridgetown to Philipsburg (Feb 29 - Mr 19)
  • Follow 3 itineraries leaving from Castries (March 19) - 5-night roundtrip, and to Bridgetown (4-night and 9-night).

From Barbados is scheduled a 12-night Transatlantic repositioning cruise (March 28 - April 9) to Portugal (Lisbon), with prices from EUR 4720 pp. The itinerary visits Canary islands - Tenerife (April 5 / 8 am - 9 pm) and Lanzarote (April 6 / 9 am - 10 pm).

Yacht's remaining 2020 cruise scheduled includes the following itineraries (departure dates in brackets):

  • 8-night Lisbon to Palma de Mallorca (Apr 9)
  • 9-night Palma to Valletta Malta (Apr 17)
  • 7-night Valletta to Piraeus-Athens (Apr 26)
  • 7-night Athens to Venice (May 3)
  • 11-night Venice to Civitavecchia-Rome (May 10)
  • 8-night Civitavecchia roundtrip (May 21)
  • 9-night Rome to Monte Carlo Monaco (May 29)
  • 7-night Monte Carlo to Barcelona (Jun 7)
  • 7-night Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca (Jun 14)
  • 7-night Palma to Lisbon (Jun 21)
  • 7-night Lisbon to Bordeaux France (Jun 28)
  • 9-night Bordeaux to London-Greenwich (Jul 5)
  • 7-night London to Amsterdam (Jul 14)
  • 9-night Amsterdam to Copenhagen (Jul 21)
  • 10-night Copenhagen to Stockholm (Jul 30)
  • 10-night Stockholm to Copenhagen (Aug 9)
  • 9-night Copenhagen to Edinburgh Scotland (Aug 19)
  • 8-night Edinburgh to Reykjavik Iceland (Aug 28)
  • 7-night Reykjavik roundtrip (Sept 5)
  • 14-night Transatlantic crossing from Iceland to Canada - Reykjavik to Halifax NS (Sept 12) - the voyage visits Newfoundland (L'Anse aux Meadows , Corner Brook), Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown/overnight), Magdalen Islands (Quebec), Saint-Pierre Island (France's St Pierre and Miquelon), and Nova Scotia (Louisbourg and Halifax/overnight)
  • 7-night Halifax to Boston MA USA (Sept 26)
  • 12-night Boston to Montreal (Oct 3)
  • 12-night Montreal to Boston (Oct 15)
  • 9-night Boston to Nassau Bahamas (Oct 27) - the repositioning cruise itinerary to the Caribbean visits Newport RI (overnight), NYC New York (overnight) and Charleston SC (overnight).
  • 8-night Fort Lauderdale FL USA to San Juan Puerto Rico (Nov 6)
  • 7-night San Juan to Philipsburg St Maarten (Nov 14)
  • 7-night Philipsburg to Bridgetown (Nov 21)
  • 7-night Bridgetown roundtrip (Nov 28)
  • 7-night Bridgetown to Castries St Lucia (Dec 5)
  • 7-night Castries to Philipsburg (Dec 12)
  • 8-night Philipsburg to San Juan (Dec 19) - the Christmas 2020 cruise itinerary visits Falmouth (Antigua), Basseterre (St Kitts), Gustavia (St Bartholemy), Virgin Gorda (BVI/overnight), Road Town (Tortola BVI/overnight), Jost Van Dyke (BVI) and St John (BVI). Prices started from EUR 6280 pp.
  • 7-night San Juan roundtrip (Dec 27) - the New Year 2020 cruise itinerary visits Samana (Dominican Republic), Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), La Romana (Dominican Republic/overnight), and Ponce (Puerto Rico). Prices started from EUR 5650 pp.

Godspeed to the new ship!

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