Last updated: 10:51 AM ET, Thu July 14 2016

Crystallizing Luxury

One of cruising's premier luxury lines broadens its brand - and reach

Vacation Agent | Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Brian Major

Crystallizing Luxury

[PHOTOCAPTION]Rendering of the Crystal Mozart. (courtesy Crystal Cruises) [/PHOTOCAPTION] 

Since its inception in 1990, Crystal Cruises has established a reputation for providing one of the finest luxury cruise experiences available. Now under the direction of Genting Hong Kong, the Malaysian casino and resort giant, the company is moving aggressively to extend that reputation beyond traditional cruise ships to also encompass yachts, riverboats, airplanes, ocean liners and residences.

Crystal’s expansion is already well underway. In December, the company’s first small yacht, the Crystal Esprit, debuted in the Seychelles and repositioned in March to the Mediterranean, where it will operate Adriatic Coast itineraries through October.

The Crystal River Cruises brand is expected to launch this month aboard the redesigned Crystal Mozart. Crystal Debussy, Crystal Ravel, Crystal Mahler and Crystal Bach will debut between 2017 and 2019, with two additional river ships to follow.

Crystal Luxury Air initiated charter flight service May 1 with Crystal Global Express, which offers global flights with a maximum range of just fewer than 12 hours per leg.

Crystal will launch the 200-passenger, luxury mega-yacht Crystal Endeavor in August 2018 followed by three 117,000 gross ton “Exclusive Class” oceangoing cruise ships. The ships will accommodate both vacationers and owners. The first is scheduled for delivery in fall 2019.

And Crystal is reaching back into time and history with a program to re-float and operate the classic ocean liner United States as an 800-passenger “modern luxury vessel” by 2018, says Edie Rodriguez, Crystal’s president and CEO.

Here’s a closer look at Crystal Cruises’ expansion programs:

Building a fleet: Not only is Crystal Cruises fashioning a new generation of ocean and river ships, it is building those vessels in company shipyards. Genting’s $4 billion, 10-ship building contract is with none other than Lloyd Werft Group, the European megashipyard that Genting formed following its April acquisition of Germany’s Nordic Yards. Genting had earlier acquired Lloyd Werft’s Bremerhaven facility.

“The new [ships] will provide travelers with an exhilarating glimpse into the future of luxury travel of all kinds, from rugged expedition adventures to indulgently relaxing river cruises,” says Rodriguez.

Getting some air: With Crystal Luxury Air, Crystal Cruises is seeking to extend its seagoing success into the skies. Crystal Global Express utilizes a 12-passenger Bombardier XRS jet featuring three cabins. The service is designed for “luxury travelers seeking the next level of ease and exclusivity during their journeys,” says Rodriguez.

Crystal Luxury Air will add a Boeing 777 and a 787 Dreamliner to the fleet in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The aircraft will be designed to match luxury accommodations found aboard Crystal ships and will be the only wide-body aircraft of their type in “VIP” commercial operation, according to Richard Ziskind, Crystal Luxury Air’s vice president and managing director.

READ MORE: Four Reasons Crystal Cruises is Unlike Any Other Cruise Company 

In 2018, Crystal Luxury Air will offer 14- to 28-day global air-cruise itineraries visiting 37 destinations on six continents in the first six months, including 22 equatorial crossings and a flight over Antarctica. Excursions and tour operations will average two days and will be available in each destination.

Arctic Circle adventure: The journey through the remote, ice-choked Northwest Passage is so rare fewer than 200 passenger vessels have completed it since Lindblad Expeditions sailed the first passenger vessel through the waterway in 1984.

On August 16, Crystal Serenity will embark on a 32-day Northwest Passage voyage, sailing 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Departing Seward, Alaska, the ship will circle the state before sailing east through the Northwest Territories to Greenland and then heading south to Maine, Boston and New York City.

Crystal’s journey will combine top-shelf luxury with an emphasis on exploration and safety. The Ernest Shackleton, an ICE 05-classed icebreaker, will escort the Crystal Serenity. The ship will provide operational support, including ice-breaking assistance if and when necessary, plus make available safety and adventure equipment, including two helicopters for real-time ice reconnaissance, emergency support and flightseeing activities.

In addition to Crystal Serenity’s voyages, the Crystal Endeavor will offer Arctic itineraries upon its 2018 debut. Crystal’s first Exclusive Class ocean-going vessel will also cruise the Arctic following its launch.

Possible return of a legendary ship: Earlier this year, Crystal Cruises officials thrilled enthusiasts of classic ocean liners with the announcement that the company had entered into an agreement with the SS United States Conservancy on a plan to return the ship to service.

The ship faced an uncertain fate for years as it languished at a municipal pier in Philadelphia. Crystal’s plan is to re-launch the ship as an 800-passenger “modern luxury vessel” by 2018, an effort that will cost in excess of $700 million, says Rodriguez.

Launched in 1952, the SS United States was considered a hallmark of postwar industrial design and innovation. The ship set a still-existent transatlantic speed record on its maiden voyage. The restoration will seek to retain the original features of the classic liner, including the Promenade and Navajo Lounge.


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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the July 2016 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.


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