Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
LOS ANGELES — Aboard Crystal Cruises’ annual President’s Cruise on Crystal Serenity and Chairman’s Cruise on Crystal Symphony respectively, Crystal’s president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez, and Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay laid out “the most significant brand expansion in the history of luxury travel and hospitality”.
Over the next three years, Crystal Cruises will introduce new ships – effectively establishing three brand new classes of cruising – as well as its own Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
In their special address to guests, Rodriguez and Tan Sri Lim made clear of new parent company, Genting Hong Kong’s investment in maintaining Crystal’s award-winning reputation and writing a new chapter in the continuing story of Crystal Cruises. The Chairman stated, “Our intent is to make Crystal Cruises the core of what will become the world’s premier luxury hospitality and lifestyle brand portfolio, not only for the immediate future but for years to come”.
In her announcement on Crystal Serenity, Rodriguez shared her enthusiasm about the expansion of Crystal Cruises, saying, “We continue to think bigger, aiming to create unparalleled luxury experiences and adventures for our loyal and new guests, who – like Crystal – continue to seek broader horizons and new perspectives on the world”.
Late this year, Crystal Esprit will embark on its maiden voyage as the first expansion of the Crystal Cruises fleet. The vessel is an extravagantly appointed yacht, delivered to Crystal Cruises by Genting Hong Kong (GHK), and extensively redesigned to reflect stylish elegance. The 62-guest, 3,300-tonnage yacht will offer a two-passenger submarine, four 10-passenger zodiacs for special excursions and a 12-passenger Wider 32-foot super yacht tender for special boating adventures.
The first voyage sails Dec. 23, 2015, exploring the Seychelles Islands, followed by an inclusive, post-cruise New Year’s Eve celebration at the Taj Dubai Hotel.
For 2016 and 2017, and early 2018, Crystal Esprit will sail routes in the Seychelles Islands, Dubai and Adriatic Coast.
The spring of 2017 brings more growth with Crystal River Cruises featuring spacious suites with exquisitely designed interiors and elegant public rooms.
Also in 2017, Crystal will launch Crystal Luxury Air, becoming the first in the luxury travel industry to offer extravagant around-the-world trips on the world’s most advanced twin-aisle Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The plush aircraft, which typically seats 300, will fly 60 guests in fully reclining business class seats to destinations to which major airlines do not offer nonstop service. Each approximately 28-day itinerary will visit 10-12 remote and/or sought-after locales, with accommodations at some of the world’s finest hotels and resorts; cuisine prepared by celebrity chefs inspired by the destination; and world-class cultural entertainment.
In late 2018, Crystal returns its focus to the seas, with three new ‘Crystal Exclusive Class’, cruise ships. Genting Hong Kong has signed a letter of intent with Lloyd Werft in Germany to build the polar ice class vessels.
With the introduction of these new vessels, Crystal will be able to deliver expedition-capable ships with all the signature features and amenities of a luxury ship or private yacht. The all-suite, all balcony ship will accommodate 1,000 guests, similar to the capacity on Crystal Symphony (922) and Crystal Serenity (1,070), and weigh more than 100,000 gross tons.
“With an impressive 100 tons of space per guest, the average space ratio for luxury cruise ships being 60 tons per person, our new ships’ guest-to-space rations will be vast in comparison to past, current and under-construction luxury ships, reaching all corners of the world safely, smoothly and in the utmost style and comfort,” said Rodriguez.
Additionally, for the first time ever, guests will have the opportunity to call a Crystal ship ‘home’, with innovative Crystal Residences. Situated on the top deck of the new ships will be 48 unique homes, boasting their own private restaurant, reception and facilities, and much higher ceilings (9 feet) than residences on any other cruise ships or yachts; and equal to most land apartments.
Residences will start at 600 square feet and go to more than 4,000 square feet of interior living area, which will be the largest on the high seas.
Other revolutionary features being introduced on Crystal’s new vessels are: a whopping 400 square feet minimum for the guestroom suites – nearly doubling the size on other luxury vessels; increased ceiling heights by one foot to 8 feet in all suites and decks; raising the bar on personal attention and service with 1,000 crew members on the ships to provide an unheard of one-to-one crew-to-guest ratio; an abundance of eating options centred on the art and expertise of Michelin-starred and celebrity chefs; and intrepid yacht-like amenities including submarines, helicopters and zodiacs.