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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD: THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG

Crystal Serenity Deck Sunset

A Look at One of Crystal’s Most Beloved Traditions After 30 Years

Close your eyes and picture it: you, champagne in hand, standing in the open breeze of your favorite Crystal ship’s top deck, or maybe you prefer strolling the Promenade. A city bustles below and beyond – is it Québec? Buenos Aires? Perhaps Sydney? The ship slowly begins to move away from the pier, marking the first currents of your luxury voyage. And as the anticipation of what’s ahead builds – the elegant evening dinners and shows, the next day’s explorations, the spa appointment you reserved later that week – you hear the unmistakable tones of Louis Armstrong…

As Crystal marks our 30th Anniversary today, we’re looking back at one of our most enduring traditions with the story behind “What a Wonderful World.”

Some things are just meant to be. It was July 24, 1990, and Crystal Harmony, was pulling away from her dock at the Port of San Francisco. With the iconic Golden Gate Bridge on the horizon, all guests were on deck for the ship’s maiden voyage Bon Voyage festivities… champagne in hand as white-gloved staff passed caviar and salmon canapés. Everything in place, cameras at the ready. Alas, as then-Cruise Director David de Haviland looked out among the faces full of excitement and anticipation, he realized something wasn’t quite right. The Viennese Waltz being piped through the ship’s loud speakers just didn’t seem to reflect the moment. It was lovely and all, but the emotional connection was missing.

Quick to recognize the importance of music at such a momentous occasion, de Haviland impulsively switched to a touchingly optimistic song about the beauty of the world – a song that everyone would know, a song that causes all who hear it to stop, pause and contemplate the simple purity of the words.

And so it came to be that despite all the planning and analysis, checklists and trial runs that typified Crystal’s pre-launch days, it was in a moment of spontaneity that Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” became Crystal’s theme song, played at every single sail-away celebration for the last 30 years.

Like travel itself, this song has inspired our guests and shoreside and shipboard crew alike as we have explored the world together. What a wonderful world, indeed.

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