After Barrage Of Orders, Can Crystal Get It All Done?

Open Jaw
by Suzanne Christie

Genting Hong Kong Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok, centre and German government officials look on as Lloyd Werft Head of Design & Engineering Benedikt Dreymann and Crystal President & CEO Edie Rodriguez shake hands and exchange documents following the official signing ceremony at the Bremerhaven

Crystal's Donald Mason, Sr. V.P. Finance, Accounting, Strategic Planning & IT; Edie Rodriguez and Genting Hong Kong Assistant to the Chairman Colin Autour the Wismar shipyards.

President & CEO Edie Rodriguez is simply calling the brand ‘Crystal’ now, because Crystal Cruises no longer fully describes the company that aims to offer “The most luxurious hospitality and lifestyle experience.”

After a dizzying flurry of new product announcements over the past year, Crystal brass and leaders of its parent company Genting Hong Kong took travel media for a visit to the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Germany where they attended the official ceremonies commemorating a €3.5 billion order for 10 river, ocean and expedition ships.

Genting owns the shipyards too – it purchased the 4 Lloyd Werft shipyards at a time when they were relatively idle. The massive 10 ship order will create 3,000 new jobs and keep the facilities humming for years.

And Genting doesn’t plan to stop at 10 ships. It has ambitious growth plans for its Crystal, Dream Cruises and Star Cruises brands.Genting Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok says he believes all aspects of the cruise and luxury markets “remain relatively untapped.”

But it’s one thing to place big orders and make big promises. It’s another to deliver on-time and on-promise. Can they do it? Only time will tell, but few are betting against the powerful team led by Rodriguez and the strong, growing team at both Crystal and Genting.

The pressure will be on, but it won’t just be on Genting and Crystal. The shipyards and German government officials were warned by Genting senior executive Colin Au that the Chinese are anxious to get into the shipbuilding business and are gearing up to offer an improved product at competitive prices. In other words – get it done on time, and done well.

Travel agents selling Crystal’s expanding product line will feel the pressure too: the sales target to achieve gala invitation status has been increased by $250,000 to $750,000 for 2016. Rodriguez was Crystal clear about her expectations: keep selling the ships and start selling the river cruises, the yacht and private jet service.

Genting and Crystal took the opportunity of the trip to bring media up to date on recent developments. Here’s a synopsis: 

  • Existing Crystal ships Symphony and Serenity will maintain their luxe status with $120 million refurbishments every 2 years.

  • Crystal Esprit hit a few speed bumps post-launch. The 1st ship for Crystal Yacht Cruises is not a new-build – it was completed in 1991 and refurbished for the role. There were some air-conditioning issues and other areas where more upgrading was required. But Esprit is now up to standard and will operate Aegean itineraries this summer.

  • One of the key features of the new yacht product is the submarine tours offered. Crystal Esprit has a 3 person mini-sub on board – which is obviously one of the highlights of the experience – but it is not included in the fare. The price tag for a ride: $599 per person. It’s somewhat surprising that at least one submarine excursion isn’t included in the overall price – especially considering the target high-end cruiser.

  • Just months after the launch of Esprit, Crystal announced it would construct the world's first purpose-built polar class mega-yacht. Crystal Endeavor will measure 600 ft (183 meters) in length and the 25,000 gross ton yacht will feature 100 guest suites, with a scheduled August 2018 debut. Crystal says the yacht has already been booked for a couple of charters. Among many other high-tech water toys, Endeavor will feature two 7 person submarines.

  • Crystal’s entry into the River Cruise market will commence this July with the redesigned Mozart sailing the Danube. Their 1st 4 newbuilds are scheduled for the 2017 season launch and an additional 2 new river ships will be launched in 2018 and 2019. The newbuilds will each feature minimum 450 sq ft staterooms.

  • Crystal has purchased a Boeing 777 which it will outfit with just 88 lie-flat seats. Arriving 01SEP17 it will serve as the exclusive luxury air transportation for themed journeys of 28 to 30 days. A Boeing 787 Dreamliner is also on order for 2018 delivery.

  • The 3 all-suite, 1,000 pax new Crystal ‘Executive Class’ ocean ships will begin arriving in late 2018. Suites will be a minimum of 400 sq. ft. and feature 8’ ceilings. The ships will also feature 48 residences, for which there is already a long waiting list. They are not currently being sold due to ongoing regulatory issues which will determine the conditions of sale.

  • Open Jaw had the opportunity to tour mock ups of each class of ship's suite layouts at the Wismar ship yards last week in order to compare size , layout and ceiling height with their main competitors in each category.

  • Crystal Luxury Air’s private Bombardier Express Jet is already in service and Open Jaw had a chance to check it out last week -
  • Crystal’s pledge to restore and operate the historic liner S.S. United States is a personal passion for Crystal boss Rodriguez. It is still undergoing feasibility studies to determine if it can ever meet EPA requirements – and it may be Crystal’s biggest challenge. If all goes well, the ship will debut in NYC on 04JUL19. 

As well as shiny new hardware, Crystal says it will achieve luxury distinction by maintaining a high crew-to-guest ratio and a focus on continuous improvement.

The new Crystal mantra for all of its staff summarizes their ultimate goal of top level service at every point of contact: “My pleasure. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Leave a Comment...

(will not be published)