At Last, Crystal’s Amazing Expansion

Cruise Week

For years agents have heard Crystal Cruises’ top executives say they are going to build a new ship. In the meantime, competitors from Seabourn to Regent to Silversea actually did.

Then came Crystal’s bombshell announcement, simultaneously delivered onboard the brand’s 2 ships as part of their 25th anniversary celebrations: a letter of intent for 3 1000-pax ocean ships with Lloyd Werft yard in Germany; river ships; yachts and a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, carrying just 60 pax instead of the normal 300.
Any one portion of this announcement would represent a significant expansion, but put them all together and the scope is groundbreaking. Crystal truly will become a multi-tentacled luxury player, missing only hotels.
All aspects represent dramatic departures from the past and present. For instance, the space ratio for the new 100,000+ tonne ocean ships is 100 – an unprecedented number. To put it into perspective, the space ratio for
Crystal Serenity is 67.
“In preparation for our tremendous growth, our new owners at Genting Hong Kong and I began to put these plans in place months ago with the opening of our Miami branch office,” says Crystal President & CEO Edie Rodriguez. “Additionally, I have assembled the best executive team, which I now have in place to lead us forward with our expansion blueprint.”

The Miami office will be the home site to the new executive management positions as well as a reservations centre.
Crystal’s luxury yacht, to be dubbed
Crystal Esprit, will be a conversion of the 24 yr. old Megastar Taurus formerly operating in the Star Cruises fleet.
“The 62 guest vessel is currently being redone at Sembawang Shipyard in Singapore and will be elaborately re-appointed with the Crystal touch of elegance,” says Rodriguez.  The 1st sailing departs in December.
At this point very little is being said about the river cruise ships - not even a passenger count. “The plans call for 2 new-build river ships to debut in spring 2017,” says Rodriguez. “We are not ready to disclose design details or itineraries at this time for competitive reasons.”
On the ocean side, Crystal will be adding 150% more beds, with the 1st ship arriving in late 2018. Rodriguez says Crystal is “revolutionizing the luxury cruise industry” by making significant strides in the design and overall size of stateroom spaces.
“Our suites won’t just be big, they are going to be huge at a minimum of 400 sq. ft., which is nearly double the size on other luxury cruise vessels.”
She cites guest feedback for leading to another change: “We are adding an additional foot to all the accommodation decks and suites, bringing the ceiling height to 8 ft., which is as high as or even higher than most hotels.” 


It’s even higher for the apartments. “Crystal Residences’ ceiling heights will measure 9 ft. and will be equal to most land apartments,” says Rodriguez.
All of the all-suite, all-balcony ships will be Polar ice class vessels, meaning they can go to the Arctic and handle the likes of the unique Northwest Passage itinerary Crystal is already offering. Such ships can also go to Antarctica, but due to international agreements, the number of people they can carry on such itineraries is limited to well below full capacity.
The last time anybody on the cruise side tried to introduce an airplane it was Carnival with Carnival Air. This implementation sounds totally different.  The Boeing will be used around all of the brand experiences.
“The genesis of Crystal Luxury Air is to offer guests around-the-world vacations in alternative, shorter options, compared to taking 100+ days on a cruise ship,” says Rodriguez. “Guests will have the opportunity to experience extravagant around-the-world vacations on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, traveling to 12 to 15 destinations, all while under the Crystal hallmark of 6 star service.”
Other features and benefits include a nearly unlimited luggage allowance. “This provides guests...with the ability of not having to worry about the weight of their suitcases, and giving them the opportunity to shop without the hassle of paying for expensive excess baggage charges.”
An incredible 96% of Crystal's business is booked through agents, the highest in the business. Rodriguez suggests that this isn’t likely to change much.

“For Crystal Yacht Cruises, River Cruises and for the Exclusive Class of ocean vessels, our travel agent commission structure will remain the same. Crystal Residences and Crystal Luxury Air are being evaluated and will be announced when we release further details on itineraries and pricing.”

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