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Angela Composto, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s new vice president of sales and marketing, is no stranger to luxury cruising. She formerly headed all creative services and marketing initiatives for Crystal Cruises, Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Luxury Air, Crystal AirCruises and Crystal Residences, following time spent as vice president of marketing for the Americas at Silversea Cruises.
She now leads a growing team that includes Kris Endreson, senior director of sales, whom Composto praises for her “wonderful agent contacts”; Nicholas Young, senior director of digital and social marketing; and Sara Duncan, director of marketing.
Endreson will focus on national accounts, key accounts and travel agent consortia. Previously, she was director of sales and marketing for Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises and Crystal AirCruises and earlier spent more than three years at Silversea Cruises as vice president of field sales for the U.S. and Canada, as well as regional sales director for the eastern U.S. Prior to Silversea, Endreson was a business development manager for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Young brings luxury experience from Grace Bay Resorts in Turks and Caicos, and also previously held the position of director of digital marketing for Prestige Cruise Holdings.
Duncan comes from Crystal Cruises, where she was senior manager of advertising and partnerships marketing; she was also formerly with Silversea and Royal Caribbean.
The line’s first of three 298-passenger yachts will launch in 2019, with suites up to 1,114 square feet. The team is working on linking support for the land and sea products. Composto notes that The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is training the global sales organization of Marriott International Luxury Brands to become familiar with the yachting product, as well as reaching out to cruise agent specialists who may not be in that network.
She says that The Ritz-Carlton’s signature service will help set the yachting product apart.
“Nobody can duplicate The Ritz-Carlton’s service, with ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen,” Composto said.
Another important factor, she says, is that the vessels will be true yachts. She notes that the company is working with a yacht architect and builder and are using different materials from existing ships.
“The vessels have a different look and feel,” she said. “We did extensive research with agents, luxury analysts and guests of The Ritz-Carlton, who said they would cruise if it were under The Ritz-Carlton brand. This is a wonderful opportunity to bring people to cruising who haven’t done it before.”
The first yacht will feature four innovative dining venues offered on an all-inclusive basis, plus an a la carte restaurant by Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg in Germany.
The itineraries — most of which will run seven to 12 nights without repetition so they can be sold back to back — will be leisurely and stress smaller, more unusual ports. After the inaugural ship crosses from Spain at the end of 2019, it will come to the East Coast in winter 2020 and sail in the Southern Caribbean and Latin America.
“The marina is perfect for the Caribbean,” Composto said. “We’ll have watersports, with kayaks and smaller sailboats available, then we’ll go to the Mediterranean for the summer — Croatia; Venice, Italy; the Balearic Islands; and then Northern Europe. The next year, there will be another yacht, and as the fleet grows, our hope is to be able to deploy some additional summer voyages through the St. Lawrence Seaway and U.S. Great Lakes area, which will be beautiful and will bring real luxury cruising to the region.”
Composto, who notes that her team is still being formed, says bookings open in May; however, bookings are open now in presale for meetings, incentives and charters.
“This is the time to arrange them,” she said. “It’s not so easy once the FIT bookings come in.”
Agent education, including webinars, will be available in March or April, in preparation for the May inventory.
“We are extremely travel partner-friendly,” Composto said.