Between now and 2025, the ideas of what constitutes a hotel, a superyacht and a cruise ship will grow increasingly murky thanks to new vessels setting sail under the flags of such well-known hospitality brands as the Ritz Carlton, Belmond, Aman and, most recently, Four Seasons. The goal: to commandeer business from conventional charter superyachts by convincing brand loyalists that their vessels will be better kitted out than traditional charters while remaining small enough to feel exclusive.
“They’re creating elaborate spas and restaurants, larger stateroom suites,” says cruise specialist Carolyn Spencer Brown, who adds that “the requirement to succeed in the ultra-luxury cruise space is offering not just quality, but choice.”
Despite the hotels’ distinctive imprints on life at sea, though, the teams operating these vessels are cruise-world veterans—good thing, too, since the logistics of maritime hospitality differ wildly from those of a land-based five-star resort. Perhaps most noticeable (aside from all the water) is the intimate dynamic aboard a superyacht charter, which typically finds a handful of guests being looked after by a small crew—an indulgent experience that many devoted charter customers may be hard-pressed to abandon. Here’s how the following hotels plan to persuade them.