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Smooth sailing: 4 luxury hotel brands launching superyachts

As the cruise industry powers ahead, the diversity of ships and cruising styles continues to grow. Now, luxury hotel brands are testing the waters with a whole new cruise category.

As the cruise industry powers ahead, the diversity of ships and cruising styles continues to grow. Now, luxury hotel brands are testing the waters with a whole new cruise category.

While a handful of high-end hotel groups already operate in-house yachts – Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, Belmond’s river boats in Europe and Asia, InterContinental Hayman Island – four world-renowned hospitality giants are investing billions of dollars in building uber-ultra-luxe ‘brand-extension’ superyachts.

First superyachts out of the dock … Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Ritz-Carlton_Evrima_(c)Christopher-Cypert_resized
Ritz Carlton Evrima. Credit: Christopher Cypert.

The American multi-national operates more than 100 luxury hotels and resorts in some 30 countries. In 2022, the company launched the sleek, 190-metre Evrima, the first of a fleet of three; Ilma is due to make her debut in September 2024; and bookings are open for Luminara ’s inaugural season which kicks off in July 2025.

Interestingly, the stylish trio are not identical. At 250 metres long and accommodating up to 452 guests in 226 massive suites, Luminara is the largest. Ilma has 224 suites and Evrima 149.

All feature spacious, ocean-view “terraces” (superyacht speak for balcony) staterooms, a selection of fine-dining venues, cool bars, lounges, a cigar bar, spa, salon, fitness centre and boutique. Each superyacht has an aft marina known as “the beach” that has direct access to the ocean and is stocked with water toys and furnished with sunlounges.

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection cruises in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean and Central America. Itineraries generally span five to 10 nights and include overnight stays and shore excursions. Guests can book back-to-back cruises without repeating port visits.

Tina Edmundson, President, Luxury, Marriott International, said, “In a short time, our world-class itineraries have attracted guests who are new to the category and interested in exploring new horizons and cultures with the assurance of The Ritz-Carlton brand.”

For more information, visit ritzcarltonyachtcollection.com 

By invitation only: Four Seasons Yachts

Four Seasona Yachts, funnel suite_superyachts
Four Seasona Yachts, funnel suite.

Four Seasons Yachts’ first Yacht is due to set sail in late 2025 but don’t expect to book a spot online. According to the website, “Due to limited inventory, initial access to bookings is by invitation only. Future guests are encouraged to follow along and join the waitlist by opting in for more details.”

The website also encourages future guests to book through their preferred travel professional (if they have loyal Four Seasons guests) and a refundable deposit of US$10,000 is required for “priority access”.  

Yacht 1 – a second model is due to be delivered in late November 2026 – has 95 all-balcony suites over 14 decks. The balconies alone measure from 9.3 sqm (for a deluxe suite) to a staggering 457 square metres (for the futuristic Funnel Suite).

The combined indoor and outdoor space for the four-deck Funnel Suite comes in at 898 square metres; it includes a private wading pool and dedicated spa area.

As the vessel is 207 metres long and 27 metres wide, a maximum of 190 guests will enjoy the highest space per guest ratio in the business. And at 1:1, the crew-to-guest ratio is equally impressive, if not unequalled.

Yacht 1 will sail in the Caribbean for the northern winter and spring, then reposition to the Mediterranean. Stand by for a name announcement …

For more information, visit fourseasonsyachts.com

Off the rails: Orient Express Silenseas

Orient Express Silenseas. Credit: Maxime d'Angeac & Martin Darzacq for Orient Express, Accor.
Orient Express Silenseas. Credit: Maxime d’Angeac & Martin Darzacq for Orient Express, Accor.

In early 2026, Paris-based multi-national hospitality group Accor, which operates the illustrious Orient Express train, will unveil the biggest sailing yacht in the world – Orient Express Silenseas.

Rendered images depict an almost space-age vessel, very different to the world’s next-biggest sailing yacht, Star Clippers’ 139-metre Royal Clipper. The 220-metre vessel is powered (mostly) by the patented Solid Sail system, three massive rigid sails set on tilting masts that drastically reduce the need for engine power. When that is needed, hybrid engines using liquefied natural gas (LNG) and wind-power take over until the breeze picks up.

With interior designs inspired by the golden age of the French Riviera, Orient Express Silenseas will accommodate a maximum of 120 guests in 54 spacious balcony suites, each measuring about 70 sqm. The Presidential Suite spans more than 1,415 square metres, including a vast 430 sqm “terrace”.

Other luxe facilities aboard Orient Express Silenseas include two swimming pools; a spa that will offer a full range of treatments including meditation sessions; two restaurants and an oyster bar; and a speakeasy bar. Live music and contemporary shows will be staged in the Amphitheatre-Cabaret space and there’s even a private recording studio.

Orient Express Silenseas is the first of two to be built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique and is set to sail throughout the Mediterranean and Caribbean from 2026.

For more information, visit orient-express.com

Joint venture: Aman at Sea

Aman at Sea.
Aman at Sea.

According to the extremely successful Asia-founded brand, the Aman way of life is all about privacy, generosity of space and gracious hospitality. Aman’s stunning new 183-metre yacht, currently known as Aman at Sea, will embody all thosequalities when she launches in early 2027.

Aman already operates Amandira, a custom-built, two-masted Phinisi sailing and diving vessel, in Indonesia. She has five spacious cabins and a crew of 14 that includes a divemaster, private chef, waiter and massage therapist.

Aman at Sea is a joint venture between Aman and Cruise Saudi and is being built by Italian shipbuilders T. Mariotti. Designed in partnership with SINOT Yacht Architecture & Design, a Netherlands company that has produced some of the world’s most extravagant privately owned superyachts, Aman at Sea will accommodate a maximum of 100 guests in 50 all-balcony suites.

Standout features include the elegant Aman spa (complete with a Japanese garden), two helipads and an extensive aft marina called the Beach Club.

Aman is planning to release information about the superyacht’s itineraries later this year.

For more information, visit aman.com