After multiple delays and much anticipation, the Ritz-Carlton’s Evrima finally set sail on Saturday, Oct. 15th from Barcelona, Spain to Nice with its first paying guests. The luxury yacht represents the first time the hotel company is entering into the cruise space - and while it’s not quite a well-oiled machine yet, it proved it has the substance to deliver an innovative experience unlike any other in the market.
It’s evident that Evrima’s sleek design, soothing and neutral hues, and contemporary layout was thoughtfully crafted to appeal to a clientele who is seeking relaxation, serenity and the service they’ve come to expect from the Ritz-Carlton hotel brand. First and foremost, guests were more than pleased with the ample amount of space both in their suites (purposely not referred to as cabins) as well as across the expansive and numerous common areas of this 190-metre vessel. The company promised more square footage per passenger and with just 149 suites and a passenger count of less than 300, guests on board the first sailing were happily surprised with the room to stretch out.
The mega yacht is stunning, truly a floating work of art, featuring spacious suites that all offer balconies and high ceilings, 5 dining venues, various inviting common areas, multiple pools (including an infinity one), a handful of whirlpools, a spa, fitness center, cigar lounge, and watersports marina.
“We are thrilled to introduce The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and usher in an exciting new chapter for this beloved brand,” said Chris Gabaldon, Senior Vice President for Luxury Brands, Marriott International. “The Ritz-Carlton has long been rooted in innovation and service excellence, guided by a commitment to be at the forefront of delivering transformative travel experiences. As we continue to evolve our legendary brand, we could not be more excited to give our guests the opportunity to experience The Ritz-Carlton in a new way.”
Only second to the design of Evrima is the delectable food, which is all included in the fare (with the exception of S.E.A., the Michelin-inspired restaurant). All of the meals on Evrima reflect the best of fine dining, making it truly a highlight of the yachting experience. From delicious snacks and casual fare in The Pool House and Mediterranean-style cuisine in Mistral to Asian fusion and sushi at Talaat Nam and traditional fare in The Evrima Room, each meal is one to savor - and the portions are plentiful too. (Don’t expect buffets on board, as that is not the vibe here, but room service is available 24 hours a day).
Complementing the delightful food and further enhancing the onboard mood are special touches like the Moet champagne that is offered throughout the sailing – everywhere from the spa and poolside to the tender meeting areas upon completion of a long day ashore. In addition, guests will find a bottle in their room and can request that their suites be stocked with specific libations. Rounding out the first-class feel, chocolates and a bottle of wine are also delivered mid-week to the suites.
Speaking of suites, guests can select from Terrace Suites, Signature Suites, Grand Suites, two-story Loft suites, View Suites and the Owner’s suite. All feature a private terrace and floor to ceiling windows, plus king beds, double vanity bathrooms, luxury linens and signature Ritz-Carlton bathrobes and slippers. Each suite also comes with its own personal concierge. Concierges can assist with dining reservations, shore excursions, stocking suites with beverages and the like, as well as any specific needs of their guests. Concierges can be contacted by phone via the suite, although many guests suggested that an enhancement would be to add a texting option to the onboard app (which did require some tweaking at the time of sailing).
Rounding out the many highlights of Evrima is the staff – who number nearly as many as the passengers. Their courteous smiles and desire to assist the guests with any task was apparent. From the suite stewards and wait staff to the personal concierges and guest services, the crew of the Evrima is full of pride for this beautiful vessel and they sought to please guests at every turn. This attention to service and detail is reflective of the brand, even when there were elements beyond their control that needed fine tuning.
ONBOARD & ASHORE
There are no theaters onboard Evrima, but there is still enough entertainment to keep guests engaged and entertained. Guests can relax poolside on comfortable loungers while a live guitarist provided background tunes. In the evening, they can take to The Living Room for a piano serenade, or for a little more excitement, dance on the Observation Deck or Marina Lounge to a live DJ. In fact, on the final night of the sailing, guests were treated to a performance in The Observation Lounge reminiscent of a live concert.
Multiple shore excursions are offered at both intimate and signature ports of call and it is recommended they be booked prior to sailing, due to space limitations. Options ranged from horseback riding and mountain treks to city tours and food tastings, among others. Pricing for excursions ranged anywhere from $100 to $500 per person, depending on the activity. Some guests conveyed that the shore excursions did not live up to the price point and the yacht company might want to revisit and modify some of the experiences.
Despite the many favorable sides of Evrima, the yacht did experience a good deal of hiccups on its first sailing. Guests onboard complained of leaky showers, non-working televisions and phones, inconsistent use of the online app, delayed laundry service, air-conditioning issues and more. While these inconveniences were frustrating, they didn’t keep most passengers from raving about the overall experience and even booking again while onboard.
One passenger aboard for the first sailing, who requested to remain anonymous, offered her feedback. “The yacht is gorgeous, the staff is extremely kind and helpful and the food is amazing. Yes there were some glitches but nothing that I don’t see being resolved over time. I have cruised a lot and this was not a typical cruise. There were very limited announcements over the PA system, the crew went out of their way to accommodate us, and it truly is a first-class, refined experience all around.”
Evrima is the first of three custom-built yachts from The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection that are scheduled to debut over the course of the next three years. She will call on a number of destinations worldwide, starting with the Mediterranean and moving on to the Caribbean, Central and South America.
All of the glitz and glamour of sailing on Evrima does not come without a hefty price tag. The average terrace suite runs about $7,000 per person for the sailing, which includes all food and beverages and access to the spa thermal suites and lounge. Extras include shore excursions, spa treatments, salon services, dining at S.E.A. and some premium wines.
That being said, Evrima’s unveiling affirmed there is a clientele who seeks the blending of resort casual and the intimate feeling of a yachting vacation with service excellence. Once they work out the kinks, the potential to attract a high-end passenger who seeks the Ritz-Carlton experience on the water is unquestionable.