Crystal Cruises’ river cruises have generated unprecedented interest. Bookings are strong for 2016 and 2017 and there are great opportunities for groups and charters in 2018, with itineraries already released, says Karen Scott Caplice, Strategic Business Development Manager, Eastern Canada, in this edition of Friday Five.
1) How will Crystal Cruises revolutionize the river cruise market?
Scott Caplice: “We will be the ultra-luxury river cruise with a much higher space ratio and staff to guest ratio than any other river cruise currently offers. We are completely all-inclusive, with all butler suites, featuring 24-hour room service, suites starting at 203 square feet up to our two-bedroom Crystal Suite at 860 square feet. The finest gourmet dining onboard plus complimentary culinary experiences at Michelin-starred or highly renowned local restaurants on many voyages. Our itineraries are also very unique with more overnights in cities like Vienna, Budapest, Amsterdam, Basel and up to four overnights in Paris, where our purpose-built ships will be docked right alongside the Eiffel Tower. We even have a seven-day roundtrip Bordeaux where every night is an overnight. It really is going to be spectacular.
“Agents should watch the river webinar on the Crystal travel agent site to learn more about our unique differences: crystalcruises.com/agent.”
2) The five inaugural cruises were already 40% booked by early December. Where are bookings at now?
Scott Caplice: “We are trending very well right now, particularly with our 2017 itineraries. Also remember, we are one of the only river companies that has 2018 itineraries out already so a great opportunity for groups and charters. For those still looking for space for this year, the Mozart is a good option as we announced the purchase of her late last fall so we do have some space still available for your last-minute river cruise guests.”
3) What are the plans for Crystal’s yacht?
Scott Caplice: “Yes, our Crystal Esprit, a beautiful 31-suite, 62 guest yacht. She started sailing in the Seychelles on Dec. 23, 2015 and will be there until March when she will reposition to the Adriatic doing one ways Venice-Dubrovnik/Dubrovnik-Venice or 14-day roundtrip voyages and not repeating ports. For clients looking to go to Croatia this is an amazing way to experience it. The Esprit is completely all-inclusive, with shore excursions, same as the river. It’s such a niche product and our feedback has been phenomenal from our guests.”
4) It’s hard to believe but Crystal just passed the quarter-century mark in 2015. What makes the cruise line unique and what’s the secret to its success for 25 years, in a very competitive marketplace?
Scott Caplice: “Our staff and crew are the best in the industry. Many of them have been with us for 25 years. All are thrilled with the expansion and new opportunities that come along with it. Our mantra is we hire for attitude and train for skill. That alongside our four pillars – SERVICE, SPACE, QUALITY and CHOICES – makes Crystal the most awarded luxury cruise line at sea.”
5) What promotions are available right now?
Scott Caplice: “Our rates have never been better, the value is amazing when you break it down. Everything is included: all gratuities, premium alcohol, fine wines, fabulous entertainment, enrichment programs, fitness classes … our guests can truly walk off the ship and not pay a dime extra. This is what an agent has to look at. What does a client spend before they go and what do they spend onboard (that they aren’t making commission on). When you add that together, break it down that way for the clients, they get it and understand the value. We have spring Med itineraries for 14 days starting at an incredible $3,125 per person for an oceanview stateroom!
“For our agent partners we have brought back our Sell 3/Sail Free on select voyages and that information can be found on the travel agent site as well.”