After eight delays which debuted nearly three years late, the first Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection ship, Evrima, finally set sail on Saturday, for a week-long cruise from Barcelona to Nice, France, which made stopover in the Spanish Balearic Islands of Alcudia and Palma de Mallorca, plus one night in Saint-Tropez, France.
Because the Ritz-Carlton’s new cruise arm and its shipyards (yes, plural) had so many problems, but also so much extra time to work on the new cruise product, we weren’t sure if Evrima’s debut would be perfection…or a mess.
Because The Points Guy couldn’t land a spot on the maiden voyage, we’ve enlisted the help of readers who are on board. So far, the returns are pretty consistent.
As you would expect from a premium offering bearing the Ritz-Carlton Hotel name and a brand new ship carrying passengers for the first time, the ship is great, the staff are great and the food is great – but there are still a few issues to work out.
Here we share the latest information and photos from passengers Amy Southard and Laura Baill, who are both sailing, as well as comments from other passengers on Facebook.
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Food is an important part of any cruise. On Evrima, everything is included, except for SEA, a restaurant created by chef Sven Elvergeld, who is the mastermind behind Ritz-Carlton, the Aqua restaurant in Wolfsburg, Germany, which has three Michelin stars.
Baill, who has never sailed before, told us she is a fan of the food throughout the ship.
First pictures: Inside the new Evrima from The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
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“I expected to be impressed with the dining options and quality, and the food certainly met my expectations,” she said. “We mainly ate breakfast at the main restaurant by the pool, with items ranging from French toast challah to the best lox and bagel I’ve ever tried (and this comes from a Jewish guest who’s tried a sizable number of bagel joints). [also tried] Evrima Lounge – specializing in local cuisine – for breakfast this morning and delighted with their cheese plate and lobster avocado croissant.
“We tended to have lunch in ports, but the ship also had almost every restaurant open for lunch. Our best dinner choice was Mistral, which ranged from lobster tail fillets with passion fruit cheesecake Otherworldly.We also enjoyed some Barbaresco wine to top off the meal.While I have no direct cruise comparison, the Ritz avoided the buffet trap and gluttony portions.
“We [also went] at the Talit Nam sushi restaurant the last two nights, and it was the ship’s hidden gem (salmon sashimi, hamachi crudo, etc., all served at a sushi chef’s counter on request),” Baill said. .
Baill and her boyfriend also managed to eat at SEA, but she was unimpressed, writing, “The only criticism was that we had dinner at SEA, and it was overpriced ($625 for two people) for very small portions, always leaving us hungry as soon as we left.”
Befitting a luxury name like Ritz-Carlton, we’re told the service on Evrima is exceptional.
“Everything looks good, smells good, feels good,” passenger JL Thomas posted in a Facebook chat 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 nice [and] useful.”
Security deposit agreed. “The staff were the highlight of the experience, both in attitude and attentiveness,” Baill said. “In one instance, they provided me with a cocktail recommendation and then, uninvited, brought me mango and white chocolate ice cream by the pool (more attuned to my tastes than I was even).
“Service at the pool and in the restaurants was top notch as I expected when I booked the trip. The crew remembered our drink preferences and names and got the wine, uninvited. The personal nature of the service was unlike any other vacation I’ve been on.”
“[My] The room has the Ritz-style interior with a sleek, modern design,” Baill said. “It was my first cruise, I was made comfortable by the large deck with sliding glass doors and a great light in the room. On boarding we were greeted with a chilled bottle of champagne among other beverages in our mini fridge. Our concierge was happy to restock the fridge with our requested beverages at any time.”
Southard, who booked a large suite, said she also enjoyed her accommodation: “It’s great and spacious.”
Beyond the standard elements mentioned above, Baill also called the bar service, the inclusiveness of the ship and the smooth boarding process remarkable.
“Ritz made the boarding process extremely smooth and promptly seated me with a cocktail in the best poolside seats within 20 minutes of boarding,” she said. “The bartenders were extremely good at mixology and provided interesting and delicious drinks based on the alcohol and taste we wanted. The drinks were also served in glass rather than plastic, which I really appreciate.”
The not so good
First navigation issues
No new cruise ship is perfect. Until each individual cabin is tested, the kitchens prepare real meals, and the crew members get down to business, adjustments are almost always needed, and it seems that is the case with Evrima.
“They definitely need to work things out,” said Southard, who is an avid cruiser. “Although everyone [who works on board] is extremely nice, it doesn’t have that Ritz-Carlton touch. From what I heard they were doing construction until 2am the day before on the ship so things still had to be finished. They need more time to pull themselves together. In about a month it will be a fantastic cruise.”
Some of the problems cited by Southard and Baill include cabin phones not working properly, faulty 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 is not yet ready.
TPG also learned that some of Evrima’s staterooms — primarily some of the larger 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 of waiting,” wrote AS Hussain, a passenger who commented on one of the posts on the Official Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Facebook Page. “I booked the Vue Suite, one rating below the Owners Suite, only to be downgraded to the Basic Suite as the superior suites…are not ready.”
“A small number of suites on Evrima take longer to complete,” the cruise line confirmed to TPG in an email on Friday. “Affected customers were notified in advance and given the option of selecting a different suite on their existing trip with a refund for any difference in cost, rebooking their trip to maintain their suite category or be reimbursed.”
Interestingly, passengers also report that the ship’s staff still have a thing or two to learn about the ports of call the ship visits.
“Understanding this was the inaugural Ritz cruise, staff had very limited knowledge of restaurants or other activities around the ports outside of their scheduled trips,” Baill told TPG. “I asked them what was the best local beach for swimming and watersports in Mallorca and ended up deferring to a passenger on the boat who had a house in Mallorca, versus our concierge who told me that he wasn’t sure of the options.
“I think this could and absolutely should be an area of improvement for guests who may not want the pre-curated (and overpriced) tours. I would expand on that to say that the staff’s overall knowledge of the area was limited or non-existent, leaving it up to my boyfriend and I to try and book anything in port towns.”
Because Ritz-Carlton is a land-based brand that has ventured into cruising, it’s understandable that it takes a while for staff members to get their feet wet, but guest services or the tour desk ashore at Evrima should be able to easily answer such questions.
Additionally, local regulations prevented the vessel from lowering its marina platform for several days. It’s unclear whether the line knew about these restrictions ahead of time or were just as surprised as the guests. (Thomas said on Facebook that the platform has since been lowered, allowing passengers to exit the watercraft from the ship.)
At the end of the line
A few minor issues are to be expected, but it looks like the line is already pivoting to sort them out and address passenger concerns.
Southard first noted that his concierge (every cabin has one) was nowhere to be found for the first few days of the voyage. However, she later said, “Our concierge has stepped up his game and is fantastic.”
Southard also told TPG that the crew was working hard to resolve other issues that she and Baill had mentioned as issues, such as air conditioning issues and other items that weren’t working properly at the moment.
“Having traveled extensively, from Bora Bora to Africa to New Zealand and Burma, I have become a bit difficult to delight in unique ways, and yet Ritz has managed to delight me and make me want to more,” Baill said. “I’m already planning my next Ritz cruise.”
Stay tuned for additional Evrima coverage in the coming months.
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