IN A WEEK OF HECTIC ACTIVITY at the annual Seatrade Cruise Global conference in Florida last month, the most spectacular event was undoubtedly organised by Crystal.
Journalists were whisked away from the Fort Lauderdale Convention Centre to a hangar on the outskirts of the nearby airport. Most had guessed there would be an announcement about Crystal Luxury Air.
Sure enough, there was a shiny new Bombardier Global Express XRS jet on show, equipped to carry 12 passengers to any Crystal cruise anywhere in the world – for $8,000 an hour.
But there was more. Standing on the plane steps, Crystal president and CEO Edie Rodriguez could hardly conceal her excitement as she revealed plans for a new purpose-built mega yacht.
Crystal Endeavor – spelled the American way but named after the Royal Navy ship that took Captain Cook to Australia – will be a 25,000ton polar-class vessel carrying 100 passengers.
The yacht, launching in August 2018, will be equipped with two helicopters, two landing pads and two mini-submarines, together with Zodiac inflatables and jet-skis.
Three weeks later, when Rodriguez joined guests on Crystal Serenity’s world cruise, she announced further plans for “the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line”, which she is determined to develop into “the world’s foremost luxury travel company.”
Crystal Mozart, its first river cruise ship, will launch on the Danube in July. It will be followed in June next year by Crystal Debussy on the Seine and Crystal Bach on the Rhine. August 2017 will see the debuts of Crystal Ravel in Bordeaux and Crystal Mahler on the RhineMain-Danube waterways.
Crystal AirCruises’ second aircraft, a Boeing 777 configured to carry just 88 guests in flat-bed seats, will embark on its first 14 and 28-day world air “cruises” in 2017.
The only hiccup is that the first of Crystal’s three new 1,000-passenger cruise ships will now be launching a year later, in 2019 – hardly surprising given that parent company Genting has had to buy a German shipyard in order to build the vessels.
As a result, the company’s 2019 world cruise will be on board Crystal Serenity. Sailing from LA to Monte Carlo, the ship will visit Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Mediterranean, by way of the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.