Aman Resorts to join Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons in getting into luxury cruising

Add Aman to the list of high-end resort companies getting into the cruise business.

The Russian-owned hospitality brand is joining forces with a branch of Saudi Arabia’s investment fund to launch an all-suite, yacht-like luxury cruise vessel by 2026, according to the shipyard that will build the ship.

Italy’s T. Mariotti shipyard on Friday announced that a joint venture between Aman and the Saudi investment entity known as Cruise Saudi had signed a contract with the shipyard for the construction of the as-yet-unnamed vessel.

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T. Mariotti offered few details of what the ship would be like other than to say it would have 50 suites, measure 183 meters long (about 600 feet) and occupy “a space in the leisure market that has never before been explored.”

The announcement comes just months after luxury hotel and resort company Ritz-Carlton launched a luxury yacht for the first time and days after luxury travel company Orient Express revealed plans to launch its own luxury yacht.

The upscale Four Seasons brand also recently announced plans to enter the luxury cruise business.

In its announcement, T. Mariotti said the coming Aman vessel would be approximately 23,000 gross tons. That’s roughly the same size as the new Ritz-Carlton vessel, Evrima, which measures 26,500 gross tons.

The size suggests that the new Aman vessel could be far more luxurious than even the Ritz-Carlton vessel, at least in terms of space per passenger. Assuming that each of the Aman vessel’s 50 suites fit two people (as is customary for luxury cruise vessels), it would sail with just 100 passengers at “double occupancy.”

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Ritz-Carlton’s Evrima sails with 298 passengers at double occupancy.

That would give the Aman vessel a far higher “space ratio” per passenger than Ritz-Carlton’s Evrima. The space ratio of a cruise vessel is often closely correlated to its luxury level.

In its announcement, T. Mariotti said the building of the Aman vessel, code-named Project Sama, would result in “exceptional luxury, spacious public spaces and unrivaled entertainment facilities, a hallmark of the Aman brand.”

“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to work with Aman, the pinnacle player in high-end hospitality,” T. Mariotti managing director Marco Ghiglione said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “We are proud to offer our luxury shipbuilding experience to this challenging new venture offering a unique combination of luxury, safety and versatility which will innovate the art of traveling at sea.”

The announcement comes amid a major effort by Saudi Arabia to become a significant player in the cruise business. Through Cruise Saudi, the country has been developing port infrastructure for cruise vessels and attractions for cruisers to lure a growing number of cruise ships operated by major lines.

Still, even if it is among the most luxurious cruise vessels in the world, the new Aman cruise ship could have limited appeal for some travelers due to the brand’s partnership with a Saudi Arabian entity, given Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, some travelers might also stay away from an Aman-branded cruise vessel due to the brand’s ownership by a wealthy Russian, Vladislav Doronin.

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