Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection's ship Evrima has now been sailing for almost six months since debuting in October 2022. Just before its 20th voyage -- a seven-night roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale -- Cruise Critic had the opportunity to visit the luxury yacht in Port Everglades.
Our visit consisted of only a few hours touring the ship, just enough time to get a feel for its design, layout and primary amenities. But it was not possible to test other important aspects of luxury cruising, such as the quality of service and the dining experiences.
What's it like onboard the 298-passenger yacht? Here are our thoughts -- and those of our members who have been sailing.
Big yacht or small cruise ship? Ritz-Carlton certainly wants you to think of Evrima as a yacht (after all, it's in the brand name). Externally the 623-feet-long vessel sports a decidedly yacht-like look, with a terraced aft and sleek design.
But inside, the space distribution has the familiar feel of a cruise ship. While it's true that Evrima purposely lacks some of the standard amenities present on cruise ships -- like a casino, a theater, a buffet restaurant or a centerpiece pool deck -- the yacht does manage other spaces in a more traditional fashion. Cabins are distributed across decks 4 to 8, while the spa and fitness studio take up most of Deck 9. The main dining room -- called Evrima Room -- and the reception area are both on Deck 4, while the Observation Lounge is on Deck 10.
Moreover, the ship's capacity of 298 passengers brings it closer to the level of smaller luxury cruise ships like Silversea's Silver Cloud (296 passengers) and Silver Wind (294 passengers), or Seabourn Venture (264 passengers), instead of other yachts like Scenic Eclipse (228) and Emerald Azzurra (100 passengers).
Regardless of the yacht or cruise ship label, Evrima's generous size means it boasts considerable space. We were told during our walkthrough that some 200 passengers had boarded the ship, yet we counted no more than 50 at any given time. What's more, several public areas -- like the Observation Lounge/Terrace or the airy Marina Terrace on Deck 3-- were largely deserted when we visited them. Passengers gravitated more towards outdoor spaces, like the Pool House restaurant on Deck 5, but these areas also never looked crowded.
If the appearance of Evrima could be defined as superlative yacht or a miniature cruise ship (or both), the essence of the vessel is faithful to its Ritz-Carlton roots. The minute we set foot on the vessel it became clear that the ship feels like a luxury hotel on the water.
And according to Douglas Prothero, President and CEO of Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection, that's one of the yacht's strengths. "We deliberately designed Evrima to attract people who aren't cruisers but who enjoy traveling at a laid-back pace," Prothero said. The executive added that about 75% of their passengers are in fact new to cruise, and many are loyal to the Ritz-Carlton brand, which is why Evrima features such strong links to the brand's onshore properties.
Upon embarkation, your first taste of Evrima is the Living Room on Deck 4, which is not unlike a hotel lobby. Where cruise lines would typically aim to dazzle you with the atrium, Ritz-Carlton Yacht Club plays it differently. Elegant yet laidback, the Living Room is not a hotbed of cruise activity but instead a place to relax and enjoy the journey. The Living Room also sets the tone for the ship's interior aesthetic. Wood tones and soft colors dominate, and the décor is modern and tasteful if somewhat minimalistic.
Another way in which the yacht resembled a Ritz-Carlton property on land, or any other similar luxury hotel, is that certain things that would be included in the fare on a luxury cruise will have a cost on Evrima.
For instance, all shore excursions require an additional fee, and the same goes for the use of certain onboard amenities like the Kid's Club. Dinner at S.E.A. -- Evrima's specialty restaurant -- costs $285 per person. By comparison, dinner on Silversea's La Dame costs $60 per person. Moreover, all specialty restaurants are included in the price on other luxury cruise lines like Regent, Seabourn, Oceania and Windstar.
A guest staying on a (non all-inclusive) luxury hotel expects all these additional costs; a traveler sailing on a luxury cruise doesn't.
Speaking of dining, the choices on Evrima are refreshingly abundant. There are 5 in total on board Evrima: the casual Pool House, the main restaurant Evrima Room, the alfresco Mistral, the Southeast Asian-flavored Talaat Nam and S.E.A.
In keeping with the consistent brand style, the ship's dining venues feature a shared muted elegance. While each venue displays some distinct touches, their general appearance is fairly similar, to the extent that it is a little tricky to tell them apart. The crème de la crème is the aforementioned S.E.A., which stands for Sven Elverfeld Aqua. Elverfeld is the chef of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg.
With a maximum capacity for 26 diners, S.E.A. is small yet not quite secluded. The dozen or so tables are laid out in two sets, flanked by chairs and a wall-length half booth that means your fellow diners are always close. In that sense, S.E.A. reminds us less of a typical sumptuous luxury cruise restaurant and more of a modern venue on land, not unlike what you would find at a luxury hotel. And to be fair, the emphasis is clearly on the food, with the restaurant's setting taking a back seat.
Evrima features a total of 149 suites across six categories: Terrace, Signature, Grand, 2-Story Loft, View and Owner's.
The 1,091-square-foot Owner's Suites are by far the most imposing. There are only two onboard, both located on Deck 7. The Owner's Suites feature a very spacious 635-square-foot terrace with a private whirlpool. The terrace alone is more than twice the size of Evrima's Terrace-category suites (which come in at 300 square feet) and larger than all the other suite categories.
While the Owner's suites are Evrima's most impressive cabins, the 2-Story Loft Suites stood out as the most unusual. As the name suggests, these suites feature two levels. But instead of having an open loft layout, they look like two separate cabins on Decks 4 and 5 that are connected by a narrow staircase (and each level has its own entrance).
Prothero explained that this unique layout was because the ship couldn't have balconies on Deck 4. So on these cabins, they compensated by having the balcony and living room area on Deck 5, while the bedroom and bathroom are located on Deck 4.
The fact that you can access any of these 14 suites from Decks 4 or 5 is a pretty neat feature. But quirkiness comes at a price, and we're not talking about the $14,000 per passenger cost of sailing in a Loft Suite. Although their total space is 611 square feet (plus the 81-square-foot terrace), these cabins feel a bit too cramped due to essentially being two 300-square-foot cabins.
Something else that became apparent during our tour of Evrima is that the average passenger is slightly younger than what you'd normally see on other luxury cruise lines. According to Prothero, the medium age is 53.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection executive attributes this distinction to having a stronger loyalist passenger base and also by being part of Marriott. Marriott's Bonvoy rewards program the possibility of sailing on Evrima to a much larger group of potential passengers that goes beyond what you’d typically find on luxury cruise ships (although the amount of points needed to redeem a voyage on Evrima easily surpasses the million and a half mark).
The Bonvoy link also makes Evrima a more fertile ground for multigenerational travelers. Notably, the ship is equipped with a children's playroom -- called Ritz's Kids -- on Deck 8 that's open for children 4 to 12 years of age (for a fee; $45 per child for three hours). Yet according to Prothero, most sailings have only had a handful of children on board, with holiday sailings having a few more than the norm. The executive explained that the kid's club is a standard feature on Ritz-Carlton hotels, so it's also standard on Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.
As our visit only allowed us to get a limited glimpse of the luxury yacht, we've taken to Cruise Critic's Community Boards and reader reviews to get a better idea of what it's like to sail aboard Evrima.
In general, Cruise Critic community members praise Evrima for its size and design, as well as the laid-back approach to sailing.
"The size is good and there are enough places to go. Public spaces are great and a real strength of the ship. Well decorated, functional, etc.," writes user arlingtonva. "On board vibe is also very different from other ships. No cruise director, no announcements at all. Activities and entertainment are limited. Fine with us, but take note if that is your thing."
The food onboard has also gotten positive feedback from passengers, both regarding the quality of the meals and the dining venues on board.
"The food was out of this world excellent. Perfectly prepared and presented each time," wrote user billanddann. This sentiment was echoed by reviewer arlingtonva, who added: "Food is consistently good. The restaurants, look and function like real restaurants. Food is also restaurant quality-across the board."
Cruise Critic's readers, however, have pointed out some shortcomings with Evrima. Service in particular seems to be an area with room for improvement.
"Friendly staff, but woefully uninformed/under trained. Pool-side beverage service and pool towels replenishment not happening without prodding," writes Fozziedoggie.
User JJGOLD summed up his experience on board Evrima by writing: "Lots of kinks to work out but lots of potential."
Although Evrima currently stands as Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's sole vessel in the fleet, the company has announced the introduction of two new yachts. Ilma is set to arrive in 2024 and will be a larger ship, with capacity for 456 guests. In 2025, the luxury line will welcome Luminara, which is expected to be similar to sister ship Ilma.