Ritz-Carlton Azora Review and Specifications
Specifications of Ritz-Carlton Azora
|Year built||2019 new ship|
|Builder||Barreras Shipyard (Vigo, Spain)|
|Building cost||EUR 190 million (USD 225 million)|
|Owner||The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company|
|Operator||The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection|
|Speed||18 kn / 33 kph / 21 mph|
|Length (LOA)||190 m / 623 ft|
|Beam (width)||24 m / 79 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||26500 gt|
|Passengers||214 - 298|
|Decks with cabins||5|
|Former names||Ritz-Carlton Yacht|
Review of Ritz-Carlton Azora
Launched in 2019, Ritz-Carlton Azora cruise ship is the first of all three top-luxury expedition cruise ships owned by Marriott International Inc (via Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company). The mega-yacht is operated by Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection (cruise brand and subsidiary company).
History - construction and ownership
Ritz-Carlton Cruises (officially "Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection", based in Miami USA / Coconut Grove) is one of cruise industry's ultra-luxury cruise brands. This new cruise company is owned by Marriott International Inc. On June 22, 2017, the 5-star hotel brand announced its privately-owned cruise line starting operations in 2019. The fleet consists of 3 newbuilds, with an option to expand to 5 vessels. The venture Ritz-Carlton cruise company was created by Douglas Prothero (former CEO and founder of Canadian Maritime Group) and Lars Clasen (former President of AIDA Cruises).
The 190-m long, 300-passenger Ritz-Carlton Azora was designed by Tillberg Design (Sweden) as "mega yacht - cruise ship" hybrid. The custom-built yacht is even dubbed "anti-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-yach cruises in northern Europe prior to the North Atlantic crossing from Iceland to Halifax (departure September 12).
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 sunloungers)
- 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
- 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 meal times. Passengers can eat whenever they want, rather than the traditional pre-set dining times customary on most companies.
Follows the complete list of Ritz-Carlton Azora restaurants and food bars.
- Aqua Restaurant is via 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, 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.
- Asian Fusion Restaurant
- The Outdoor Grill - lower Sundeck (with swimming pool) is served by Poolside Grill and Seafood 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.
Due to fire and safety regulations, most of 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".
Follows the complete list of Ritz-Carlton Azora lounges, clubs and other entertainment venues for kids, teens and adults.
- The Champagne 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.
- Ritz-Carlton Spa (Deck 9) is operated by Ritz-Carlton Hotels and provides indoor and outdoor treatments. Each massage room has its own private balcony. Guests are able to pick if they wish a treatment inside or out. 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, etc) and relaxation.
- Ritz-Kids is ship's Kids Club (indoor playground) providing 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 cruise ports along the itinerary, the shipboard shopping experience is enhanced via collaborations with local artisans coming onboard to showcase their offerings.
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 (seakayaks and paddleboards) are available complimentary for all passengers to use. The marina is connected to the indoors, forming an indoor-outdoor solarium (sundeck) which looks more like a cosy lounge than the usual sundeck.
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. Above Sun Deck is the Helideck with a helipad (helicopter landing area).
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 its own mini-helicopter and a speedboat.
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), Timthoy Grisius (Virgin's global real estate officer), Douglas Prothero (Ritz-Carlton Cruises' managing director).
On October 9, 2018, the vessel was floated out of drydock and moved to a shipyard pier for final outfitting.
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 azymuth 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 pattended Azipod system also produces less vibration. The thrusters have ability to turn 360 degrees which increases the ship's maneuverability and allows access to ports without the need of tugboat assistance.
The Azipods are part of ABB's medium voltage power plant. It also includes sensors producing realtime data that can be tracked from land-based facilities operated by 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 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 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).
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