When you open the annual Worldwide Atlas, or peruse crystalcruises.com, your imagination takes control. One cruise is a complete roster of destinations you’ve always dreamed of visiting, while another voyage features a blend of new places to discover and locales you just can’t get enough of. Before you’re able to contemplate which itineraries most inspire you, months – even years – of collaboration among our shipboard and land-based teams have been invested in creating the perfect selection of voyages and ports. Here, Vice President of Deployment Claudius Docekal, and Anita Hodson, Crystal’s Director of Itinerary Planning – along with and a host of Crystal experts around the world – dream up many of the enriching and enchanting voyage itineraries – and they share some insights into the process.
Often, it begins with an idea floating down the hallway of our corporate office, to a fellow destination expert. Then discussion begins – “why” or “why not”, “how do we make it happen” and “wouldn’t this be fantastic?!” That last part is key.
While there is so much logistical strategy required to craft global itineraries that suit the ports’ needs and regulations, the cities’ itineraries and events, and Crystal’s own voyage objectives, the crux of the matter is really the question: “what would be the most fascinating to our guests?” It’s a brainstorm that spans oceans, from our global offices, to the ships and yacht, wherever they may be, and it’s highly collaborative. We are fortunate to have some of the greatest combination of maritime experience on our teams, both shipboard and shoreside, from our captains who’ve most certainly been there, done that, to our Hotel Directors who can foresee details beyond geography, in addition to our land programs, engineering, nautical and even legal experts who all have valuable insights to share.
There are numerous moving parts to consider when it comes to creating a route that works on all levels – which is imperative to deliver a seamless guest experience – and so, it’s all hands on the proverbial deck. An itinerary cannot be developed based solely on the correct weather and world events, but the distance and time between ports must be measured to ensure maximum fuel efficiency (for environmental considerations), and time to allow our officers and crew get enough rest to operate the vessel safely and deliver the Crystal standard of excellence.
Beyond these, we also must collaborate with ports, as they operate on an entirely separate schedule. If our captain says that the ideal time to sail away from a particular port is at 18:00 hours because of the beautiful sunset views, we must first ensure this aligns with an arrival time in the next destination that does not overburden the port.
Likewise, we would like to be in Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix, for example, we must first ensure that this feasible for both land and ship teams, but also that the itineraries prior and following that cruise offer dynamic itineraries so as not to repeat an exact voyage. Choices and variety have long been part of the Crystal credo, and so we work to offer new experiences each time guests set sail.
To this end, our Crystal vessels will make 47 maiden calls this year – quite a feat after 25 years of cruising nearly all corners of the globe! As long as luxury travelers continue to seek new experiences in new places, we will continue to brainstorm the best places for their Crystal vacation.