LOS ANGELES — There’s a lot of cruise news making waves in the industry these days.
The biggest announcement came from Crystal Cruises, which over the next three year will introduce new ships – effectively establishing three brand new classes of cruising – as well as its own B787 Dreamliner aircraft.
New parent company, Genting Hong Kong, wants 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,” said chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay.
Late this year Crystal Esprit will embark on its maiden voyage as the first expansion of the Crystal Cruises fleet. The 62-guest, 3,300-tonne yacht will offer a two-passenger submarine, four 10-passenger zodiacs for special excursions and a 12-passenger Wider 32-foot super yacht tender.
- Crystal Cruises plans major expansion – Ocean, Expedition, River, Yacht and Air
- See renderings of the new products
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.
Spring 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 around-the-world trips on the world’s most advanced twin-aisle B787 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.
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. The all-suite, all-balcony layout 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.
Additionally, for the first time ever, guests will have the opportunity to call a Crystal ship ‘home’, with Crystal Residences.
Other features being introduced on Crystal’s new vessels are: a 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 a 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.
In other cruise news, Azamara Club Cruises is launching its new travel partner tutorial, the Azamara World Academy.
The tutorial features 11 short courses that can be completed in approximately four hours covering the following topics: Azamara Club Cruises Overview; Destination Immersion; Destinations; Onboard Life; Dining & Wines; Spa & Fitness; Accommodations; Onboard Sales; Selling Tips; CruisingPower.com; What You Need to Know Before You Go.
In addition to providing educational services, Azamara World Academy makes tools available for travel partners including videos, commercials, virtual ship tours and a special ‘what’s new’ section to showcase the latest developments.
Meanwhile, Carnival Cruise Line said it is further enhancing its commitment to travel agent engagement by expanding its trade sales and marketing team to include a dedicated events team within the organization. The formation of the new trade events team will significantly expand the line’s presence at cruise industry tradeshows, conferences, agent trainings and recognition events. See GoCCL.com.