Talk about go big or go home. Crystal Cruises has built a cruise line on two fantastic ships, piling on as many amenities as it could, making do with minimal holdings. Even as years passed, and no new ships were announced, Crystal found ways to stay current. And now, Crystal Cruises is about to stake an enormous new claim on the entire luxury travel market. With yachts, a new class of ocean liners, river cruisers, and an airplane – all that’s missing is posh trains. (Hmm, perhaps I’ll have new parent company Genting Hong Kong to rethink its vision.)
Crystal Yacht Cruises
Let’s start with the newest debut, Crystal Yacht Cruises. The maiden voyage for Crystal Esprit - the first yacht - is December 23, 2015. Crystal Esprit sails the Seychelle Islands, including a post-cruise New Year’s Eve celebration in Dubai at stellar Taj Dubai Hotel.
Reservations are only open to Crystal Society (repeat guest loyalty program) members through August 31, 2015 for bookings until early 2018. With only 62 passengers onboard each cruise, Crystal Esprit should sell quickly. If you’re not in Crystal Society and interested in a sail, you better get in touch with your travel agent to contact Crystal Cruises first thing September 1 or you’ll be one disappointed cruiser.
To the best of my knowledge, Crystal Yacht Cruises has no competition. This clubby all-suite ship (3,300-tonnage) is about high-end and modern technology, with boutique décor. It’s loaded with features suggesting it’s geared to a younger audience than Crystal Cruises: jet skis, kayaks, wake boards, water skis, fishing poles, scuba and snorkeling equipment – and even, a two-passenger submarine and four 10-passenger zodiacs. There’s even a 32-foot super yacht tender.
Crystal River Cruises
Look out Scenic Cruises, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, and other upscale river lines. Crystal River Cruises launches Spring 2017. The new line will be all-inclusive in Crystal Cruises fashion. Think spacious suites, six-star dining, elegant public rooms, and enriching shore excursions. Crystal fans will, indeed, get the best of both sailing worlds.
Crystal Luxury Air
2017 also brings Crystal Luxury Air, offering extravagant around-the-world trips on a twin-aisle Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This airplane typically seats 300; once it gets the Crystal touch it will fly only 60 guests in fully reclining business class seats. Each itinerary will be about 28 days and visit 10-to-12 remote or highly sought-after locales, with accommodations at some of the world’s finest hotels and resorts. And yes, they’re promising celebrity chef cuisine inspired by the destination and world-class cultural entertainment. Such luxury travel might be out of reach for many but it certainly sounds dream-come-true. Might be time to buy a lottery ticket?
Crystal Exclusive Class
In late 2018, Crystal re-focuses on the high seas with three new Crystal Exclusive Class cruise ships. These ships are expedition-capable, polar ice class vessels. (Seabourn might be getting nervous; here comes luxury ocean liner competition to Antarctica.)
The ships are all-suite (400-square-feet) and all-balcony. They will hold 1,000 passengers, similar to Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. With 1,000 crew, that’s a one-to-one crew-guest ratio. And check this out: The space ratio is 100 tons per guest. That’s more than any other luxury liner – now, and perhaps, for years to come.
Top decks will host Crystal Residences; 48 unique homes with their own restaurant, reception, and facilities. They range from 600-square-feet to a whopping 4,000-square-feet of interior living area. (Buy two lottery tickets?)
Did I mention these ships will have helicopters, zodiacs, and submarines? Come to think of it, they might make a great shoot site for the next James Bond flick. (crystalcruises.com)