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Cruise lines make a splash with their own spirits

With Holland America Line and The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection both launching exclusive onboard spirits this month, db investigates why distillers are taking to the water.

This week it was announced that Candela Mamajuana, an ultra-premium rum brand from the Dominican Republic, has partnered with The Ritz-Carlton to create a limited-edition rum.

Named Marea, the rum will be served exclusively onboard The Ritz-Carlton’s luxury yacht collection, including on the Evrima as the vessel “transitions from its 2023 Mediterranean season into its 2023-2024 Caribbean sailing sailings”.

The Ritz-Carlton is not the only nautical operation to launch its own spirit.

This week, US cruise line Holland America also unveiled an exclusive gin, in honour of its 150th birthday.

With a name nodding to the cruise line’s Dutch heritage, De Lijn Gin is is made with Dutch-inspired botanicals, including orange and rose, along with elderberry, lemon verbena, lemon, raspberry and juniper.

The result, according to the cruise line, is “a premium gin, made in America, inspired by the Netherlands, and specially crafted for Holland America Line” and will be available onboard throughout the rest of 2023 and beyond.

Making waves

Being able to offer voyagers a taste of their own spirit is a trend that’s picking up pace, whether that’s at the very top end of the market or on more affordable passenger cruises.

In April, Oceania Cruises partnered with whisky brand Chapter 7 to craft an exclusive 20-year-old small-batch cask of whisky to celebrate the launch of its new ship, Vista.

Just 304 bottles of the whisky were made available for purchase by guests sailing on board Vista during her inaugural season this summer.

“We believe a cask is like a character in a novel, where the best ones tug at the heartstrings and don’t let go,” said Sebastian Harding, director of operations at Chapter 7 Whisky. “Our 304 specially curated bottles can play just that role for Vista’s guests, as they discover something special that perfectly complements their cruise experience.”

The spending power of cruise passengers doesn’t hurt either.

“The top one per cent of luxury travellers are looking for something rare, something with a unique story and heritage,” Alejandro Russo, co-founder of Candela Mamajuana, said in an interview with Forbes abotu the brand’s collaboration with the Ritz-Carlton.

“As travellers are delighted with special destinations and cultures, there is a strong need to interact with products that can continue to tell that story after the trip is done,” he added.

Marea is a Gran Reserva rum crafted from fresh-pressed sugarcane juice, honey and spices, that will be served neat or in a range of specialty cocktails served throughout Evrima’s restaurants and bars.

Wine tie-ups are likely to quickly follow suit.

According to Jeff Bond, channel sales director EMEA for Accolade Wines, cruises are a big opportunity because there “is potential for sales of exclusive parcels of luxury wines to high-net-worth individuals, something the cruise lines don’t seem to offer at this time”.

“Having seen what is on offer onboard, from fashion to Rolex watches, there is definitely a good opportunity to offer rare wines. This is something we are pursuing with the cruise operators and retailers,” he told db exclusively.

Bond says the approach will be incorporated into the wine company’s plans soon.



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