Cruising Wow Factors
Pushing Boundaries & Taking To The Skies

by Vanessa Lee

Vanessa with Crystal's Edie Rodriguez

Inside Crystal Skye

Celebrity Edge, Garden of Eden

Norwegian Bliss, racetrack

Celebrity Edge, Magic Carpet

I recently compared the many innovations in the cruise industry to the evolution of Las Vegas, especially in the areas of cuisine and entertainment.

I do feel cruise is totally outpacing most land-based vacation options with its ability to launch new-builds with ground-breaking additions to your everyday 7-day (or longer) cruise. These are WOW factors and leading edge too.

Take the expansion of all things luxury on Crystal with the arrival of its Boeing 777 – aptly named Crystal Skye. A few years ago, it would not have crossed the mind of many of us in the biz that cruise lines would be adding airplanes to their offerings or indeed that a ship such as Celebrity Edge would be launched with a Magic Carpet on the side of the vessel.  Never mind a sinful, playful and "chillful" Garden of Eden as a unique culinary and entertainment space.

It may not be to everyone’s taste but if you are a contemporary and solid 4+ star brand like Norwegian Cruise Line which focuses on an audience that wants a casual and exciting vibe with tons of activities, dining and entertainment choices, then you are constantly thinking of what more you can do to retain and grow your fan base. That’s where the electric car racetrack comes in on Norwegian Bliss – arriving in Alaska next summer, with Caribbean itineraries to follow.  

If your clients want to burn some rubber, they will love the two-level track that is the longest at sea at about 1000 feet. Four speed settings for various levels of expertise (reaching up to 50 km/h) plus a “turbo-boost” option on each lap, will ensure great fun for all ages. And frankly, I would do this too – and you don’t usually catch me doing any of these activities on most ships. The cars run silently so they won’t disturb those lounging at the pool. It may not look terribly attractive and those ship top decks are getting busier and busier, but I doubt that anyone will care.

There’s also an open-air laser tag course themed as an abandoned space station – love that concept! Boys of all ages are going to love this immensely. And of course Bliss will feature many dining and cocktail spaces – some old favourites and a few new offerings because with every new ship these days the lines are pushing boundaries and offering, in many instances, a theme-park concept.

I have been spending time absorbing much of what is coming with Celebrity Edge next year. I am thrilled with what I see and how creative and daring this ship will be in so many ways. The style of her public spaces, the enormous amount of glass, the ability to bring the guest and the sea closer together – these are all very powerful ideas and ones which I know Celebrity will ace.  

Celebrity’s plans for the ship include the Magic Carpet which will rise up from Deck 2 to Deck 5 and then Deck 14, the resort and pool deck where it becomes an extension of that space and indeed, above the ship itself to the summit – for an ultimate dining experience for 90 guests appropriately entitled ‘Dinner on the Edge.’ Bookings have been open for some time. Get your clients on board this ship, they will love it.

And now to the ground-breaking plane, Crystal Skye, which was christened last week in Las Vegas by Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch, one of the most respected and iconic travel industry experts. This is all about bespoke chartered aviation with the plane designed to accommodate 88 guests in pure luxury. Offering a high crew to passenger ratio, the twin-aisle aircraft has a non-stop range of 19.5 hours.

Crystal Exclusive Class seats are designed, of course, for maximum personal space and comfort and all convert to lie-flat beds. There’s the largest wine cellar in the sky, two state-of-the-art galleys with an executive chef and an expansive 24-seat social lounge and stand up bar to ensure social camaraderie at 35,000 feet. I am sure the service will be impeccable and provide that renowned Crystal “fairy-dust” sprinkling for everyone on board.  Perhaps you have guests or corporate clients that will charter this plane on their way to a Crystal ocean, river, yacht or very shortly, an expedition cruise.

Congratulations to all these brands, in their various spaces. They continue to innovate, ensure guest satisfaction and totally inspire.

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