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6 Days On a Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection Caribbean Cruise

A completely uncalled-for level of luxury, floating on an ocean near you

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Ritz-Carlton yacht Evrima

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Evrima — all photos by author

Why should you read an article about a super-expensive cruise, in a newsletter about managing life and finances?

I read about supercars for 40 years before I bought a McLaren. It can be fun to read about things you aspire to, as long as you don’t get too caught up in the wanting. Craving status isn’t a great formula for a good life.

If you can afford it, here are the details of my Ritz-Carlton ocean experience. And if you can’t, there are lots of pretty pictures of a boat, and even a picture of the author dressed as a road hazard sign. You’re welcome.

I’ve been on a lot of cruises, but never one of the luxury cruise lines, like Seabourn, Silversea, or Crystal. Luxury cruises, they’re for old people, right? But Ritz-Carlton? Sign me up! It’s not a cruise, it’s a floating hotel. Lots of new cruisers are being attracted by the Ritz-Carlton brand, and they’re actually ten years younger on average (age 40–60) than on a typical cruise.

Our itinerary was six days and five nights starting in Barbados, sailing on the Ritz Carlton Yacht Evrima. That’s ‘discovery’ in Greek, because you can charge more when you spell in a foreign language.

We booked the most popular room, the Terrace Suite. A luxurious 300 sq ft for $2,000 US a night ($10,000 for the trip for both of us). That’s about 2x the cost of a similar-sized cabin on Royal Caribbean.

Our very cool posse for the cruise. Author and wife in centre.

We were traveling with three other couples. We met up for lunch on the pool deck and then dispersed to explore our rooms and the boat, agreeing to meet again in a few hours for a pre-departure caviar tasting.

I was most excited to try out the beds, after all that’s what the Ritz-Carlton is best known for.

The Terrace Suite — 300 square feet of pure luxury, aka looks like every other cruise stateroom, but that bed! Mwah!

For comparison, this is a 600 sq ft Grand Suite with a separate sitting area. It also has two walk-in closets and a bathtub, and is about 3x the cost.

Tiny bathroom with dual sinks, completely adequate for our needs and no bumped elbows

The balconies on the 6th deck. We used ours for drying clothes and for a few minutes every morning while brushing our teeth.

As soon as the lights were out, I was sound asleep. Two hours later I heard my wife’s voice asking, “Are you getting up for caviar?”

“Are you insane?” I responded with my eyes closed. “Caviar can’t get me out of this bed. The jaws of life couldn’t get me out of this bed.” I don’t know what black magic Ritz-Carlton uses to make their beds so deliciously cool and warm at the same time, but I was hooked.

We eventually got up after a three-hour “nap” and explored the boat.

Mistral outdoor restaurant on the 8th floor

View from the 8th floor infinity pool down to the 5th floor pool deck

Pool Deck Bar on the 5th floor, coincidentally also containing the pool deck

5th floor pool deck, the main pool of the ship, with two hot tubs, one on either side of the deck

About half the seating area of the 4th floor Living Room gathering area

The other half of the Living Room gathering area and the adjacent bar

4th floor boutique, filled with unpronounceable names like Chanel and Hermès

The stairs we used to go from deck to deck, because the elevators were largely unnecessary

We met up with the rest of our group for dinner at 8 pm. The ship got underway halfway through the meal, and I was a bit surprised at how much motion I could sense. The Evrima is a smaller ship than many we’ve been on, but it’s still a large ocean-going vessel with 10 decks. Even so, the pitch and roll was noticeable as soon as we started moving.

Dinner was excellent, but by the end of the meal my wife was looking a little pensive and she decided to skip the live piano duet in the ship cabaret and go straight to bed.

The next day one of our travelling group suggested a non-drowsy Dramamine with a ginger supplement, which worked like a miracle, otherwise there’s no chance we’d ever consider a smaller cruise ship again.

Mandatory equipment for sailing on smaller ships

We were anchored the first sailing day off the coast of Soufriere, a smaller port on the island of St. Lucia. There was no cruise ship pier, so we took a small boat, called a tender, from the ship to the island.

Evrima’s tender boats. Frequent and nearly empty.

Go tender go!

One of the couples in our group went to a well-known restaurant on St. Lucia, and when they returned from lunch, announced that they were no longer going to eat on shore excursions, as the food on the ship was superior to anything they found off the boat. There is no buffet on a Ritz-Carlton cruise, and you won’t miss it.

At the end of the cruise, I asked my friends what they liked most about the experience, and every one of them said, “the service.” The restaurant staff knew each of our names after a single meeting. They knew our favourite drinks and they knew where we liked to sit.

Our room concierge, Reese, was always nearby. If we left the room for ten minutes, when we returned, the bed would be turned down, or turned up, and more likely than not, there would be chocolates, peanuts, a bottle of champagne, or rose petals left in our stateroom.

On more than one occasion, I was leaving our stateroom and Reese would be standing there as I opened the door. “Agh! Reese! I mean, hi, how’s it going?”

Our concierge, Reese, hiding in the hallway outside our room

We all met for drinks after coming ashore from St. Lucia, in the Living Room, a central meeting area with a lounge singer on piano every afternoon and through the evening. Over the course of two hours, we drained several espresso martinis, a dozen margaritas, and two bottles of wine.

As we got up from the table leaving behind a collection of empty glasses, I said “You know, this must be what it feels like to own a yacht.”

Up until then, I’d been wondering why Ritz-Carlton called their cruise operation the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection — and this was at the heart of it. At all times, because of the service and the lack of any discernible crowd, it felt like my ship. My yacht. Jeff Bezos ain’t got nothing on you while you’re aboard the Evrima.

The next day we docked at a pier in Antigua, alongside several much larger ships from MCL, TUI, and Celebrity. In the town square, we were surrounded by all the people from the larger ships and it struck me that not only were the Ritz-Carlton passengers 10 years younger, they were 20 pounds lighter.

On Antigua, we were surrounded and jostled by the obese buffet-going clientele of regular cruise ships. After 30 minutes, I had had enough and I just wanted to get back to the Evrima.

One of the exciting aspects of the Ritz-Carlton itinerary was a stop at St. Barths. This posh celebrity-infested island is famously difficult to get to, requiring a propellor flight or ferry from nearby St. Maartens. Large cruise ships aren’t allowed to dock there, and Evrima was my chance to finally see one of the most exclusive islands in the Caribbean.

I wanted to look stylish for my visit and wore new yellow shorts I had bought in Antigua, with a black t-shirt. As I came out of the bathroom, I asked my wife “What do you think?”

“You look like a taxi,” she said immediately.

Author shopping on St. Barths, unhailed by fellow tourists. Notice the yellow and black carpet and yellow and black chair that Prada also chose as stylish. Just saying.

That cup doesn’t have coffee in it by the way. When we were leaving to head to St. Barths, one of the servers asked us if we wanted our drinks to go. Aperol spritz in a to-go cup? Why the hell not?

Aperol spritz in a to-go cup

On the way back from St. Barths and sick of all the opulence, we passed a never-ending stream of billionaire yachts. We passed the time by making fun of the yachts that didn’t have space for a heli-pad.

At some point that afternoon after coming back to the ship, one friend asked, after a series of Margaritas, “Hey, what day is it? Are we halfway done yet?”

Silence. Nobody knew what day it was.

I had been a little worried about the lack of entertainment on the ship. I knew that there was no nightly singing and dancing extravaganza as on larger cruise ships, but it turned out there was plenty of entertainment in the form of trivia contests, live musical acts, and even a magician. We only used the in-room TV once, to watch the safety video.

The highlight of the trip for me was finally winning a cruise ship trivia contest after a decade of trying. Pop songs from the 70’s for the win!

The incomparable Alyssa Lazar on 70’s piano ladies and gentlemen (pictured with victorious author)

One night we didn’t have reservations for dinner and a friend suggested we could go from restaurant to restaurant, begging for scraps. I said “You’ll settle for scraps?”

“Scraps of… penne,” she said, wistfully.

Either she or I had been ordering penne for every meal of the cruise. It was that good. After the trivia contest, we headed to the on-board sushi restaurant for dinner. The waiter asked for everyone’s appetizer orders.

“Miso soup.”

“Torched Hamachi.”

“Penne Arrabbiata.”

No ma’am, for your appetizer.

“Did I stutter? Penne. Arrabbiata.”

It was that good.

That night the ship threw a white party, a standard feature of their cruises. It was a wild night, with live music followed by a DJ, and about half the ship’s passengers showed up to dance the night away.

My wife and our fellow penne-loving friend Jess, prepared for the white party

On the final stop of the cruise, the island of Gorda, British Virgin Islands, we somehow ended up as refugees from an episode of Lost, hiking around enormous boulders in flip-flops. It was an adventure for our final expedition ashore.

Completely inappropriate footwear for being lost on a tropical island

Also at this port, the ship deployed its Marina. On deck three, they arranged a dozen inflatable platforms off the back of the ship and allowed us to engage in non-motorized water sports or swim in the ocean. Try doing that on Icon of the Seas (the world’s largest cruise ship).

Author looking snazzy in his Ritz-Carlton lifejacket, about to go jump in the ocean. The ocean!

We woke up on day six in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Things to know if you’re considering booking:

  1. Evrima was about $1000/person per night for a Caribbean itinerary. European itineraries are about 30% more expensive.

  2. There are 149 suites and 298 passengers on Evrima, with 350 crew, a ratio double that of other cruise lines, and it shows in the level of service.

  3. As a smaller ship, the Evrima is able to dock at ports that don’t normally receive cruise traffic. St. Barths famously so, but even in St. Lucia and in the British Virgin Islands, we went ashore at smaller, less visited ports.

  4. Other guests are friendly and polite, and it’s easy to meet people, but travel with friends if you can, this is definitely a group experience.

  5. I would not bring kids on this boat. They’ll be bored and you’ll be annoyed.

  6. Everything can be customized. From getting sliced mangos when they’re not on the menu, to asking for an entire Indian meal to be cooked for our group on the final night.

  7. There is no gratuity envelope at the end of the cruise.

  8. I had five nights of the most blissful sleep. Ritz-Carlton beds are to die for, and in.

So would I do it again? Sometimes something is expensive for no reason other than to demonstrate that you can afford it — for status. Other times things are expensive because they cost more to make, and the end result is a higher quality product — luxury. I used to spend money to get status and impress people. Now I try to spend money so I can have luxury.

So as it happens, I already booked a cruise for next year on the newest Ritz-Carlton ship, Ilma. It is genuinely a better experience than a typical cruise. If you want to buy a Birkin bag for status while you’re on board, that’s up to you. A Ritz-Carlton cruise though — luxury, and totally worth it.

Bye bye Evrima, no need to be so shy (anchored off coast of Gorda, British Virgin Islands

  1. My story about a private jet to Las Vegas to see my favourite DJ.

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