Ritz-Carlton Delays Cruise Line Launch Due to Shipyard Problems

The first of up to three cruise "yachts" for Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection (file image courtesy Hijos de J. Barreras)

Published Oct 3, 2019 7:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

The brand new cruise line Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has delayed its first voyage by four months due to "delivery and project cost" issues at its shipbuilder, Spanish yard Hijos de J. Barreras.

After reports of delays and rising costs at Barreras, Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection CEO Douglas Prothero commissioned an independent audit, which found that subcontractors for the yard were not working to schedule. 

"With additional challenges around the former shipyard management, both the new Board of Hijos de J. Barreras and the Board of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection are working cooperatively towards a long term solution for the shipyard," the cruise line said in a statement. “We sincerely apologise to all guests who were ready to sail with us in the beginning of 2020 . . . Our team is deeply committed to delivering a highly customised, state-of-the-art build that will make our inaugural yacht the most distinctive of its kind.”

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection aims to target the ultra-high end luxury segment of the cruise market with small-ship cruising. Its three 300-passenger vessels will operate on weeklong itineraries, primarily in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, with a focus on a "yacht-like" port call schedule. The first ship in the Ritz-Carlton series was launched in October 2018, and the company has placed an order for a second. The firm has not commented on any possible delays for the later ships in the class. 

The Barreras yard is also experiencing difficulties with a two-ship cruise ferry order for new Norwegian operator Havila Kystruten. The yard has discovered design challenges related to weight and draft, according to Havila, leading to a temporary halt to construction. Havila holds a contract with the Norwegian government for coastwise service, and it will need its ships from Barreras (and two more from Turkish yard Tersan) by January 2021 in order to meet the terms of the agreement. 

Cruise ships are complex and costly, and their construction is highly reliant upon a network of specialized suppliers. Merchant and naval shipbuilders who attempt to enter the cruise market often face significant cost and schedule challenges. In 2016, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries ended its nascent participation in the cruise segment after losing $2.3 billion on two ships for AIDA. 


Correction: a previous version of this article misstated a management change at Hijos De J. Barreras, SA. It is absolutely false that Alfonso López Loureiro has received a letter of dismissal from the company PEMEX -the majority shareholder of the shipyards-, HIJOS DE J. BARRERAS, S.A. or any of its legal representatives in the week prior to 3 October 2019 and equally false that Alfonso López Loureiro has received a letter of dismissal to date.