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TRAVEL WEEKLY: Four Seasons Yachts’ unique plan: Hotel-style pricing for food and rooms

By Andrea Zelinski | 05-28-2024 |

Press & Media

Four Seasons Yachts strives to be different from luxury cruise lines. Thus far, it is succeeding.

Scheduled to debut in January 2026, the brand plans to charge guests a la carte for lunch, dinner and alcoholic drinks. It's a model that not only veers away from the all-inclusive pricing standard for luxury cruise lines, but virtually every river and ocean cruise brand, all of which include three meals a day in their pricing.

"It is a departure from the traditional luxury cruise product, and it more aligns with the Four Seasons hotel and resort," said Nils Lindstad, vice president of business development and sales excellence for Four Seasons Yachts.

Also like a hotel, Four Seasons Yachts will charge per-suite instead of per person, which will range from just under $3,000 per night to $45,000 per night for its four-deck, 10,000-square-foot suite.

What will be included is breakfast, nonalcoholic drinks, WiFi, watersports activities, the use of marina toys, gratuities, taxes and port fees, he said. Also, the seven signature suites will each have a complimentary bar stocked with guests' preferences, including alcohol.

"We did a lot of research and a lot of focus groups with advisors and also with consumers, really talking to what the high net worth individual would like to see," he said. "These are the inclusions that we've ended up with."

Several luxury cruise specialists, however, said a la carte pricing would make them unlikely to sell the product.

"That, to me, is insane, and I won't sell it," said Dennis Nienkerk, a luxury travel advisor with Strong Travel Services in Dallas. "If somebody called and insisted, I'd give them all the warnings, but I don't see how they can maintain that model in an industry that is growing more and more all-inclusive all the time."

Mary Jean Tully, CEO of Tully Luxury Travel, said she's heard similar responses.

"We've had a few inquiries but nothing yet," she said. "People are waiting to see, but no one likes the idea that it's not all-inclusive so far."

But Four Seasons Yachts wants to differentiate itself from other brands in the luxury cruise market. Four Seasons announced in 2022 that it would extend its land-based brand to the seas with former Azamara CEO Larry Pimentel at the helm.

Pimentel promised the brand would create a "new category of luxury lifestyle travel" on a 95-suite ship sailing in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. The brand's first ship is under construction with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, and two more are planned.

Carlos Edery, CEO and founder of Luxury Cruise Connections, thinks Four Seasons Yachts will appeal to a segment largely outside the market of regular luxury cruisers.

And while he predicts that its a la carte pricing may eventually evolve to half-board or full-board upgrades to cover lunch and dinner, he said Four Seasons is doing something to differentiate itself from other cruise products and appeal to ultrahigh-end consumers.

"I think there's a very small sub-segment from the luxury cruise industry that might experience this," he said.

Leadership upheaval at Four Seasons Yachts

When it launched, Four Seasons became the third in a trio of hotel brands to expand into cruising.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection was the first, debuting the 298-passenger Evrima in 2022: a 448-passenger ship, the Ilma, is due out in September. Aman's 50-suite yacht is expected to enter service in 2027.

In February, about a year and a half after the Four Seasons Yachts concept was launched, several of its leaders left the company. Among them were Pimentel and Philip Levine, the two-term mayor of Miami Beach and a cruise entrepreneur who was on the board of directors. Thatcher Brown, who served as chief commercial officer and head of joint operations for the holdings company, stepped down earlier this month.

Lindstad said it was sad to see leadership leave, especially those who were there from the beginning, but that their departures have not delayed the launch.

"Everything as it relates to the construction of the vessel, the other investors who are part of this project, everyone is still very excited for everything we're doing and nothing has slowed down that progress," he said.

Four Seasons Yachts parent Marc-Henry Cruise Holdings is on the hunt for a new CEO and has hired former Seabourn president Josh Leibowitz as an external consultant.

For some travel advisors, the departure of Pimentel, a longtime cruise leader who is known by the trade, has been cited as a reason to hold off on bookings.

"There's been a lot of management changes, so people want to wait and see what happens," Tully said.

But Edery remains confident Four Seasons Yachts is going in the right direction, in part, he said, because many people that Pimentel hired are still with the brand.

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