Dispatch by Don George
ABOARD CRYSTAL SERENITY — Speaking to a room packed with appreciative cruise travelers currently docked in Brest, France, on the eve of Crystal Cruises’ 25th anniversary, President and CEO Edie Rodriguez announced a sweeping new blueprint for the cruise line’s growth into the next 25 years, featuring the most significant brand expansion in the history of luxury travel and hospitality.
In a presentation that was punctuated by oohs, ahhs, bravos, and applause from the audience, Rodriguez announced that the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line is expanding into four new areas: Crystal Yacht Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Exclusive Class, ocean cruising — with three new luxury vessels — and Crystal Luxury Air.
Rodriguez began her presentation by referring to the line’s new owners, Genting Hong Kong, saying, “Crystal’s mission is to continue to be the world’s best in luxury for even the most discerning global consumer. This, in part, is what attracted Genting Hong Kong to acquire Crystal Cruises. From the outset, Genting has made very clear its intent to maintain Crystal’s award-winning reputation and write a new chapter in the continuing story of this great luxury brand, even beyond anyone’s imagination.
“Our next chapter begins now, as we celebrate 25 years of Crystal excellence,” Rodriguez continued. “It is my great pleasure to share with you our blueprint for energizing Crystal Cruises even further. 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.”
Beginning with “on-the-water” luxury experiences, Rodriguez announced that the company is launching Crystal Yacht Cruises with Crystal Esprit, a 62-guest, all-suite yacht featuring spacious luxury accommodations and extraordinary additions such as a two-person submarine and four 10-person Zodiac watercraft for special excursions, as well as a 32-foot super-yacht tender for special boating adventures. The Crystal Esprit’s maiden voyage will be this year on December 23, cruising the Seychelles Islands. That debut will be followed by a season along the Adriatic Coast. In appreciation for their support, Crystal Society Members will have exclusive booking rights through August 31, 2015, for the first sailing in December 2015 and for all of the 2016, 2017, and early 2018 sailings.
In addition to these yachting experiences, Rodriguez continued, in spring 2017, Crystal will launch yet another brand extension with Crystal River Cruises. “The hallmarks of the Crystal experience — six-star service, world-class dining, delightful shore adventures, and the largest suites in river cruising — will be applied to an exquisite new class of river vessels that will feature expertly curated itineraries,” Rodriguez said.
When the audience burst into applause at this news, Rodriguez said, “Thank you. You all asked for this. We’re just delivering what you asked for. We listen!”
Continuing her remarks, Rodriguez said, “I’m sure the most eagerly awaited announcement is the news of not one, but of the three new
Crystal Exclusive Class ocean cruise vessels, with delivery of the first ship in 2018. These will be superior to anything in the current luxury cruise segment, a quantum leap in spaciousness and unparalleled to any existing or under-construction luxury ships.”
“With Crystal Yacht Cruises in December 2015 and sailing all of 2016, Crystal River Cruises in spring 2017, and the first of three Crystal Exclusive Class ships to debut in 2018, I trust you would agree that our ‘on-the-water’ blueprint lays out an exciting plan in energizing Crystal Cruises for the future,” Rodriguez said. “For most companies, this would be enough, but not for Crystal.”
As the audience laughed and applauded, she continued, “We have noticed that many of our guests dream of traveling around the world but would like an alternative, shorter option to taking 100-plus days on a cruise ship. With Crystal Luxury Air, we will be the first in the luxury travel industry to offer 28-day, extravagant, around-the-world vacations on a brand-new and the world’s most advanced twin-aisle Boeing 787 Dreamliner.”
The Dreamliner normally seats 300, but Crystal’s will accommodate just 60 guests, all of whom will travel in fully reclining first class seats and lounges. Guests will have a choice of starting their journeys from different global cities and will visit 12 to 15 destinations in 28 days, with stops based on iconic world events, nature, season, food and wine, history, culture, and other themes.
“With all that is on the horizon for our guests and those who are seeking a new level of luxury lifestyle experiences and adventures,” Rodriguez concluded, “it goes without saying that Crystal’s expanded luxury hospitality and lifestyle portfolio is truly your passport to the world. I think you will agree that Crystal has created a real ‘game-changer’ for global luxury travelers seeking the finest luxury travel experiences.”
As the crowd whooped and applauded, Rodriguez broke into a Crystal bright smile.
Featured image: A rendering of Crystal Luxury Air’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner