Ritz-Carlton’s Second Luxury Superyacht Cruise Ship Completes Sea Trials

Ilma cruise ship
Luxury superyacht cruise ship Ilma during sea trials off France (Sundeck Films / Chantiers de l’Atlantique)

Published May 21, 2024 4:38 PM by The Maritime Executive


The second luxury superyacht building for the brand extension for Ritz-Carlton completed sea trials yesterday, May 20, off the coast of France. Being built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, the new ship named Ilma, is due to enter service in September 2024 as the brand known for its luxury hotels and resorts expands its cruise operations.

The new ship was designed by Helsinki-based design studio Aivan, drawing inspiration from the aesthetics of a private yacht design with a sleek and graceful exterior, unlike most modern cruise ships. Construction on Ilma began with the keel laying in March 2023 and the float out of the vessel in September 2023. She is one of two ships ordered from the French yard with construction also underway on a sister ship, Luminara, due to enter service in 2025.

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection was launched by an investor group that licensed the brand name and built its first cruise ship in Spain. It is part of an industry trend with Four Seasons and Orient Express also building luxury cruise ships. They are leveraging brand identity and creating a new ultra-luxury segment for cruising. Ritz-Carlton’s first cruise ship, Evrima, entered service in 2023 after multiple delays.

The new design being built in France are larger and more traditional in their layout. The Ilma is 46,750 gross tons compared to 25,400 gross tons for Evrima. The new ships will each accommodate 448 passengers in 224 suites compared to 149 suites for 298 passengers on the first ship. The Ilma is 790 feet (241 meters) in length and will have a crew of 374.

The sea trials were conducted between May 16 and 20. The company reports there were tests for the ship’s seakeeping, noise, vibration, and wind comfort. Outfitting will now be completed and a final trial before her September 2, 2024, maiden voyage from Monte Carlo to Rome.

Keeping with the ultra-luxury positioning, the new ship offers eight grades of suites ranging from a 1,033 square foot Owner’s Suite to 294 square foot Terrace Suites with up to an additional 108 square foot outdoor space. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection boasts the ship will have one of the highest space ratios at sea (passengers to gross tonnage) and a high crew-to-passenger ratio.

Among the amenities for passengers are state-of-the-art technology, five dining venues, six bars, and a Ritz-Carlton branded spa. Interior designs were carried out by a London-based architectural and design firm, AD Associates, and lighting designer DPA to create the yacht-like feel aboard. As part of the expanded design for the new ships, Ritz-Carlton added versus the first ship an expanded marina with a new mezzanine feature and a special space for Ritz Kids programming.

After her introduction, Ilma is scheduled to cruise in the Mediterranean and then reposition to the Caribbean. In 2025, she is scheduled to also cruise in Northern Europe. Keeping with the yacht positioning, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection vessels are also available for private charter.