After eight delays that put its debut nearly three years behind schedule, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s first vessel, Evrima, finally set sail on Saturday, for a weeklong cruise from Barcelona to Nice, France, that brought stops in Spain’s Balearic islands of Alcudia and Palma de Mallorca, plus an overnight in Saint-Tropez, France.
Because the new cruising arm of Ritz-Carlton and its shipyards (yes, plural) had so many issues, but also so much extra time to work on the new cruise product, we had no idea whether Evrima’s debut sailing would be perfection … or a mess.
Because The Points Guy wasn’t able to snag a spot on the maiden voyage, we enlisted the help of readers who are on board. So far, the feedback has been pretty consistent.
As you’d expect from a high-end offering bearing the Ritz-Carlton name and from a brand-new ship that’s carrying passengers for the first time, the vessel is great, the staff is wonderful and the food is superb — but there are still a few kinks to be worked out.
Here, we share the latest intel and photos from passengers Amy Southard and Laura Baill, both of whom are sailing, as well as comments from other passengers on Facebook.
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Food is a huge part of any cruise. On Evrima, it’s all included, with the exception of S.E.A., a restaurant created by chef Sven Elvergeld, who’s the brains behind Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg’s Aqua restaurant in Germany, which has three Michelin Stars.
Baill, who has never cruised before, told us she’s a fan of the food throughout the vessel.
“I anticipated being impressed with the dining options and quality, and the food definitely met my expectations,” she said. “We primarily had breakfast at the main pool restaurant, with food ranging from challah French toast to the best lox and bagel I have ever tried (and this is coming from a Jewish patron who has tried an appreciable number of bagel joints). We [also tried] Evrima Lounge — which specializes in local cuisine — for breakfast this morning and delighted in their cheese plate and lobster avocado croissant.
“We tended toward lunch in the ports, but the ship did have nearly all restaurants open for lunch as well. Our top dinner selection was Mistral, which ranged from filets to lobster tails with other-worldly passionfruit cheesecake. We also enjoyed some Barbaresco wine to top the meal off. While I have no direct cruise comparison, the Ritz avoided the buffet trap and gluttonous portions.”
“We [also went] to the sushi restaurant Talit Nam the past two nights, and it was the hidden gem of the ship (salmon sashimi, hamachi crudo, etc., all served at a sushi chef counter on demand),” Baill said.
Baill and her boyfriend also managed to eat at S.E.A., but she wasn’t impressed, writing: “The one critique was that we did dine at S.E.A., and it felt overpriced ($625 for two people) for very small portions, leaving us still hungry as soon as we left.”
Befitting a luxury name like Ritz-Carlton, we’re told the service on Evrima is outstanding.
“Everything looks good, smells good, feels good,” passenger JL Thomas posted in a Facebook discussion group called The Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection — All The News. “But the best parts of the boat … the crew! Everyone, from the housekeeping team to the mechanics are so sweet [and] helpful.”
Bail agreed. “The staff was the highlight of the experience, in both their attitudes and attentiveness,” Baill said. “In one instance, they provided me a cocktail recommendation and then, unprompted, brought me mango and white chocolate gelato at the pool (more attuned with my taste than I even was).
“The service at the pool and the restaurants was top-notch, in line with my expectations when I booked the trip. The crew remembered our drink preferences and names and kept the wine flowing, unprompted. The personal nature of the service was unlike any vacation I have been on.”
“[My] room has the signature Ritz-style interior with a sleek and modern design,” Baill said. “This being my first cruise, I was put at ease by the large deck with sliding-glass doors and ample light in the room. Upon boarding, we were greeted with a chilled Champagne bottle among other beverages in our mini fridge. Our concierge was happy to restock the fridge with our requested beverages at any time.”
Southard, who is booked in a Grand Suite, said she’s also enjoying her accommodations: “It’s great and roomy.”
Beyond the standard elements noted above, Baill also called out bar service, the all-inclusivity of the ship and the seamless embarkation process as noteworthy.
“Ritz made the boarding process extremely seamless and quickly situated me with a cocktail in premier pool seating within 20 minutes of boarding,” she said. “The bartenders were extremely skilled in mixology and provided interesting and delightful drinks based off our desired liquor and taste palate. Drinks were also served in glass, versus plastic, which I greatly appreciate.”
The not so good
No new cruise ship is perfect. Until each individual cabin is tested out, galleys prepare actual meals and crew members get into the swing of things, tweaks are almost always necessary, and it seems that’s the case with Evrima.
“They for sure need to work out the kinks,” said Southard, who is an avid cruiser. “Although everyone [who works on board] is extremely nice, it does not have that Ritz-Carlton touch. From what I heard, they were doing construction until 2 a.m. the night before on the ship, so things still needed to be finished. They need more time to get it together. In a month or so, this will be a fantastic cruise.”
Some of the issues cited by Southard and Baill include cabin phones that don’t work properly, malfunctioning in-room climate controls, broken public bathroom locks that trap unsuspecting people inside, some pools closed for days due to maintenance and an onboard wine list that isn’t ready yet.
TPG also has learned that some of Evrima’s cabins — mainly some of the largest suites, which can cost $25,000 or more, per person, per cruise — aren’t quite finished yet.
“I have booked this ship after 2 and a half years waiting,” wrote AS Hussain, a passenger who commented on one of the posts on the official Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Facebook page. “Booked the View Suite, one grade below Owners Suite, only to be downgraded to the basic Suite because the top suites … are not ready.”
“A small number of suites on Evrima are taking longer to complete,” the cruise line confirmed to TPG on Friday in an email. “Impacted guests were made aware in advance and were provided the option to select a different suite on their existing voyage with a refund for any difference in cost, rebook their voyage to maintain their suite category or be given a refund.”
Interestingly, passengers are also reporting that the ship’s staff still have a thing or two to learn about the ports of call the vessel is visiting.
“Understanding this was Ritz’s inaugural cruise, the staff had very limited knowledge of dining or other activities around the ports outside of their scheduled trips,” Baill told TPG. “I asked them about the best local beach for swimming and water sports in Mallorca and ended up deferring to a passenger on the boat who had a home in Mallorca, versus our concierge who told me they were unsure of any options.
“I think this could and should absolutely be an area of improvement for those guests that may not want the pre-canned (and overpriced) tours. I would expand on this to say the staff’s overall knowledge of the area was limited or nonexistent, leaving it up to my boyfriend and myself to try and book anything at port cities.”
Because Ritz-Carlton is a land-based brand that ventured into cruising, it’s understandable that it will take some time for staff members to get their feet wet, but either guest services or Evrima’s shore excursion desk should be able to readily answer such questions.
Additionally, local regulations prevented the ship from lowering its marina platform for several days. It’s unclear whether the line knew about those restrictions in advance or was just as surprised as the guests. (Thomas said on Facebook that the platform has since been lowered, allowing passengers to take out the ship’s personal watercrafts.)
Some small problems are to be expected, but it seems that the line is already pivoting to fix them and address passengers’ concerns.
Southard initially noted that her concierge (each cabin has one) was nowhere to be found for the first few days of the voyage. However, she later said, “Our concierge stepped up her game and is fantastic.”
Southard also told TPG that the crew is working hard to fix the other things she and Baill had mentioned as snags, such as air-conditioning issues and other items that aren’t functioning properly just yet.
“Having traveled extensively, from Bora Bora to Africa to New Zealand and Burma, I have become somewhat hard to uniquely delight, and yet, Ritz managed to thrill me and leave me wanting more,” Baill said. “I am already scheming up my next Ritz cruise.”
Stay tuned for additional Evrima coverage in the coming months.
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