(5 p.m. EST) -- The Yacht Portfolio, the maritime investment firm behind the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, has signed a letter of intent to purchase Sea Cloud Cruises, a luxury small sailing ship line based in Hamburg, Germany.
Sea Cloud’s three ships are the historic 64-passenger Sea Cloud, launched in 1931; the 94-passenger Sea Cloud II (2001); and the new (in 2021) 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit. All are three-masted tall ships.
The brand will continue to be based in Hamburg, and there will be no change in planned itineraries, officials said.
"Sea Cloud offers such a unique, environmentally-friendly experience in the cruise space, which aligns well with our continued focus on building a strong portfolio of niche luxury brands," Douglas Prothero, CEO of The Yacht Portfolio, said in a prepared statement. "We look forward to completing a transaction with the Sea Cloud team and supporting the brand’s next phase of growth in the luxury cruise space."
Through the acquisition, The Yacht Portfolio also plans to expand its relationship with Marriott International beyond the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, officials said, noting in a press release that the deal "gives Marriott International the opportunity to enter the cruise industry through its other luxury brands."
"We are excited about the transaction between The Yacht Portfolio and Sea Cloud and look forward to the opportunity to collaborate further with The Yacht Portfolio to bring our luxury accommodations to sea," said Timothy Grisius, Global M&A and real estate officer at Marriott International.
Negotiations have been going on for several months, Sea Cloud officials said. No purchase price was disclosed.
"We are pleased that The Yacht Portfolio will strengthen Sea Cloud’s market position," said Hermann Ebel, managing director of Sea Cloud Cruises. "The course is set for many more years of successful international marketing and the foundation is laid for further company and fleet growth."
The first ship from the Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection, Evrima, is set to launch with a first cruise from Lisbon on May 9, 2022.
The new cruise line has drawn excitement from luxury cruise fans, who see the 298-passenger ship as a notable entry with a beloved brand-name behind it. The opportunity to use Bonvoy points and have integration with Marriott's loyalty program has also sparked interest.
The launch has been delayed, however, for several years because of the COVID-19 pandemic and issues at the shipyard in Vigo, Spain, where the ship is being built.