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Crystal Cruises announces details of Symphony and Serenity redesigns

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Crystal Cruises' luxury ships are set to undergo their most extensive redesigns in their respective histories, as Crystal unveils the complete plans for Crystal Symphony’s and Crystal Serenity’s dry dock transformations. In what the company is calling the “Evolution of Crystal Luxury,” in 2017 and 2018, Crystal will embark on the multi-million-dollar investment that will see the two ships reimagined to new standards of innovative luxury. The plans for Crystal’s two ocean ships are the latest in its tremendous brand expansion, which will also see new river yachts, new ocean-going vessels and a privately-owned Boeing 777 join the fleet in the next three years.

“Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity are the foundation of Crystal and continue to embody the cornerstones of the celebrated Crystal Experience,” says Crystal CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez. “These ships have earned us not only acclaim from the world’s most eminent entities and publications for more than two decades, but more importantly, the loyalty of the world’s most discerning travelers and travel partners. We are committed to continuing their reign as the most luxurious ships at sea by investing in changes and updates that will far exceed our guests’ wishes.”

While the two ships’ refurbishments are scheduled almost a year apart, plans for both are predominantly streamlined, offering guests a consistently superlative experience on board whichever Crystal ship they choose to sail. As part of the extensive redesign, several staterooms will be converted into brand new luxurious penthouse categories to take the place of smaller staterooms; imaginative new dining options will be revealed; ships will be loaded with high-tech perks; and modern, elegant décor updates will be made in many public spaces.

New Penthouses and Penthouse Suites

Both ships will gain more of the spacious, butler-serviced Penthouses and Penthouse Suites. Crystal Symphony will see two new categories of accommodations altogether: Seabreeze Penthouse Suite with Verandah (12 new suites added) and Seabreeze Penthouse with Verandah (28 new suites added), both occupying Deck 9, Seabreeze. The new accommodations will boast the same square footage as existing Penthouses and Penthouse Suites (367 sq. ft. and 491 sq. ft., respectively), while Seabreeze Penthouses will be connected by a shared an entryway recessed from the hall.

Aboard Crystal Serenity, the 36 additional Penthouses and 2 additional Penthouse Suites will occupy the current Penthouse Deck 10, and will also offer the same square footage as existing Penthouses and Penthouse Suites (403 sq. ft. and 538 sq. ft., respectively).

Penthouse accommodations offer guests enhanced all-inclusive Crystal amenities, including butler service and in-room specialty dining. Penthouse guests will also now receive unlimited complimentary dining at the onboard specialty restaurants. The conversion of staterooms into the new penthouse accommodations effectively reduces the ships’ guest capacities – Crystal Symphony to 848 and Crystal Serenity to 980 – and increases the per-guest space ratio aboard the ships to 60.2 and 70.3 respectively. Abundant space throughout its luxury ships has long been a cornerstone of Crystal’s platform, and a key distinction between its ships and competitors.

Refreshed dining options

The world-class cuisine served on Crystal ships will also enjoy a revolution, as Crystal mainstays transform into inspired modern venues that still exude the elegant culinary atmosphere for which Crystal is known. Inclusive to the renowned Crystal Experience, the posh eateries feature diverse menus of Michelin-level cuisine inspired by the worldwide destinations Crystal visits.

The Crystal Dining Room, the ships’ centrally located main dining venue, will become Waterside, reflecting the chic décor and sophisticated ambiance of the main dining room aboard Crystal River Cruises’ Crystal Mozart. Additional tables for two and four guests offer expanded options for intimate dining in the expansive space, while a new open seating concept invites guests to dine at their leisure between 6 and 9:30 p.m., eliminating Crystal’s previous format of assigned seating and reservations. Waterside will also continue to serve breakfast and lunch during current timeframes.

The Lido Café, another hot spot aboard both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, will take on new life as the Marketplace by day and Churrascaria by night. Both venues will feature an open kitchen concept with dishes made to order. The Marketplace will continue to serve casual buffet style breakfast and lunch options, and will transition to Churrascaria, a stylish casual dinner venue, from 6 to 9 p.m., creating an additional evening option for guests. Churrascaria will feature a Caipirinha as a welcome cocktail and serve a selection of Brazilian-inspired tapas, ceviche, salads and grilled seafood and meats presented by Crystal “gauchos” on sword-like skewers.

New to the Crystal menu of onboard restaurants on both ships will be Silk, located in the Trident area of their respective Lido Decks. The contemporary space will offer modern Chinese-inspired fare with family-style dinner plates ideal for sharing, and self-service options for breakfast and lunch that include dumplings, Chinois salad, a soup and noodle bar and other Asian favorites. For the dinner hours between 6 and 9 p.m., reservations will be recommended, although open seating will be accommodated. The Trident Bar & Grill will remain in the adjacent space, serving casual grilled options including burgers and sandwiches.

Silk Road and The Sushi Bar, the specialty dining venues by famed Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, will be rebranded as Umi Uma – reflecting the Japanese word for Crystal’s eponymous seahorses. The authentic venues will still serve the inspired cuisine of Nobu, prepared by his personally trained chefs, and will remain the only Nobu restaurants at sea. All specialty dining reservations for Umi Uma and Prego will be complimentary for Penthouse guests, while all other guests will enjoy one complimentary evening of specialty dining, with additional reservations available for a modest charge. Reservations are always required for specialty dining venues.

Technological upgrades

Upon completion of Crystal Symphony’s dry dock in November 2017, guests will receive unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi throughout any Crystal voyage aboard all Crystal vessels. Crystal’s investment in technological amenities for guests will include hardware and software enhancements to enable expanded internet connectivity and doubled satellite speed. Additionally, a new guest portal – Crystal Connect – will be launched and featured on the landing page of onboard internet connections. The portal enables guests to easily access the internet, as well as an array of shipboard information including daily menus from each restaurant, daily Reflections, day and evening activities, Crystal Adventures shore excursions and daily port maps. A number of international newspapers will also be available for digital viewing, as well as a library of box office hit movies, Crystal lectures on demand and much more. Crystal Connect will also be available in a mobile application for use on guests’ personal devices.

In all rooms throughout the ships – in each stateroom and in all public areas – ultra-thin, 42-inch, interactive flat-panel TVs will enable guests to conveniently access their onboard folios, view the Crystal Spa & Salon, Connoisseur Wine Selection, and dining menus, with the ability to make any onboard reservations, reserve shore excursions and order room service. These new interactive TVs will also showcase the latest Hollywood movies and hit TV series. Crystal’s acclaimed Computer University@Sea classrooms will also undergo updates and makeover, further enhancing the technological experience and enrichment for guests.

Reimagined public spaces

Several favorite shipboard spaces will enjoy reimagined designs, while maintaining their inherent function as part of travelers’ onboard experience. The top-deck, forward Palm Court lounge aboard Crystal Serenity will be entirely redesigned to feature more intimate seating, while Crystal Symphony’s mid-ship Starlite Club, a hub for evening dancing and cocktails, will also be refitted, still boasting panoramic sea views.

Crystal Symphony’s redesign is set for September 19-October 21, 2017; Crystal Serenity’s for October 14-November 10, 2018. The dry docks and subsequent relaunch of both ships mark additional milestones for the Crystal fleet, as the company increases its luxury presence throughout the world’s oceans, Europe’s rivers and the skies.

Adds Rodriguez, “Throughout this tremendous expansion, our commitment to setting an unprecedented standard of luxury travel experiences is unwavering. We will continue to place the quality of our guests’ experience above all other priorities, and our exquisitely designed vessels are integral to that experience.”

Silversea to elevate Silver Explorer

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Silversea's luxury expedition ship Silver Explorer will welcome guests to a stylishly elevated onboard experience starting with her May 20 voyage, sailing from Lisbon to Honfleur.

A comprehensive stem-to-stern refurbishment is scheduled for the end of April and will take place during a nearly three-week dry dock in Las Palmas. Plans call for a complete renovation of Silver Explorer's interior decoration, creating a revitalized atmosphere throughout the ship. As part of its $170 million fleet-wide refurbishment program, the company is making a significant investment to ensure that guests enjoy a renewed sense of luxury and comfort when sailing aboard Silver Explorer.

Highlights of the renovation include:

Refreshed Public Spaces: The ship's overall color scheme will shift to an elegant new palette of blue and beige tones, which guests will first notice in the remodeled reception area. The rich new look will be carried throughout the ship with the installation of attractive new carpets and wall treatments in the corridors, staircases and all public spaces.

In addition to new carpets and wall treatments, the Observation Lounge, Panorama Lounge and Connoisseur's Corner will be updated with all-new furniture. The restaurant's buffet counters, ceiling and walls will get a makeover and the furniture will be refashioned with new upholstery. The theater's bar will be completely redesigned and its banquette seats refreshed with new upholstery. A new boutique will be built in the space previously occupied by the library, while the reference and entertainment materials from the library will be moved to the Observation Lounge. Also set for a spruce-up are the spa and fitness center, which will double in size by taking over the area occupied by the original boutique. Plus, the Outdoor Grill will be enhanced with a new awning.

Elevated New Décor for Suites: The ship's all-suite accommodations will be completely renovated with new carpets, wall treatments, curtains, and furniture, including mattresses, headboards, wardrobes, bedside tables, vanity desks, sofa beds, armchairs, flatscreen TVs and lighting fixtures. In all but the largest suites (i.e., Medallion Suites and higher), the bathrooms will be enhanced with new flooring, granite appointments and rainforest showers (replacing tub-and-shower combinations). Suites with verandas will be outfitted with new veranda furniture. And the eight Expedition Suites on Decks 3 and 4 will be converted into 16 Vista and View Suites, with most featuring a connecting door for the convenience of families and friends traveling together.

The remodeled Silver Explorer will accommodate 144 guests in all-inclusive luxury as she sails to the world's most remote destinations -- from the Arctic, Antarctica and Africa to the Americas, French Polynesia and the Russian Far East. Guests will enjoy sumptuous cuisine, the personalized service of a butler, and a generous selection of shipboard amenities included in the fare, such as complimentary beverages, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, stocked in-suite beverage cabinet, and at least one free hour of Wi-Fi per guest, per day.

In true Silversea Expeditions style, guests will be enriched by an onboard program of destination lectures, photo presentations and daily recaps. Exploratory Zodiac excursions and interactive walks ashore, led by experts in their field -- marine biologists, ornithologists, geologists, botanists, historians, and anthropologists, are complimentary.

Viking Cruises partners with National Geographic

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Viking Cruises today announced it has signed on to sponsor National Geographic’s first fully scripted global anthology series, “Genius,” which in its debut season tells the story of the 20th century’s most brilliant icon, Albert Einstein. The new premier partnership with National Geographic builds on Viking’s continued commitment to supporting enriching cultural programming, with current and past partnerships including PBS’ MASTERPIECE, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl, the Munch Museum and more. During the global premiere of Genius on April 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic, Viking will showcase a new brand campaign entitled “Time,” featuring Torstein Hagen, Founder and Chairman of Viking Cruises. A lifelong admirer of Einstein, Hagen, who is also a physicist, shares Einstein’s interest in the concept of time and often refers to time as “the only scarce commodity.” The campaign debuts today and will roll-out across additional marketing channels throughout the show’s 10-part global event series on National Geographic.

“Through my formal education, I studied nuclear physics, and as a scientist, I have always been fascinated with Einstein and his work as a theoretical physicist,” said Torstein Hagen, Founder and Chairman of Viking Cruises. “We are pleased to have a premier partner in National Geographic, to further bring enriching offerings through art, history and exploration to audiences around the world, while also continuing to showcase The Viking Way of travel.”

“Genius exemplifies National Geographic’s commitment to premium content, and we are thrilled that it is attracting premium partners like Viking,” said Brendan Ripp, Executive Vice President of Sales and Partnerships for National Geographic. “Viking’s commitment to expanding cultural horizons is truly inspiring, and we hope Genius is just the beginning of our joint efforts to bring consumers the type of content we both believe in.”

Dramatizing the stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators, season one of Genius reveals how Albert became Einstein, exploring his extraordinary professional achievements along with his volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. The series is based on Walter Isaacson’s book “Einstein: His Life and Universe” and is executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, with Howard making his scripted television directorial debut with the first episode. Featuring Einstein’s lovers, enemies and fellow scientific luminaries, the all-star cast includes Geoffrey Rush (“The Kings Speech,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Shine”) as the celebrated titular scientist, Johnny Flynn (“Clouds of Sils Maria,” “Song One,” “Lovesick”) as Albert in the years before he rose to international acclaim and Emily Watson (“Theory of Everything,” “The Book Thief”) as his second wife — and first cousin — Elsa Einstein.

Throughout the series, audiences will experience key locations of Einstein’s life, including his time in Germany (Berlin, Munich, Würzburg, Heidelberg), Switzerland (Zurich, Basel) and Austria (Vienna, Salzburg), as well as his later years in the United States (New York City, Boston) – all of which are also destinations on Viking’s river and ocean cruise itineraries.

Norwegian Cruise Line to add lifeguards to fleet

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Norwegian Cruise Line today announced that the line will begin employing certified lifeguards at all of the family pools across their fleet. The first responders will be trained and certified by the American Red Cross in lifesaving rescue measures and will monitor the family pools during scheduled pool hours. The lifeguards will begin service this summer on the line's four largest ships - Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic - and on the remainder of the fleet by early 2018.

"Norwegian has stationed pool monitors on our largest ships since 2015 and we are now taking further steps to ensure the safety of our youngest guests with the addition of certified lifeguards across our fleet,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “While parents are always the first line of supervision when it comes to water safety, we felt it was important to provide this added measure across our fleet."

In addition to uniformed lifeguards, Norwegian will also begin offering complimentary swim vests for both adults and children on the line's four largest ships. Parents can obtain the safety vests at the towel station on the ship's pool deck during daytime hours.

New Russian cruise operator to offer six night Black Sea cruises

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Black Sea Cruises, a new Russian cruise operator, will start to offer six night cruises in the Black Sea region in June, using a 14,717 gross ton vessel that last sailed for an Israeli company.

The Knyaz Vladimir, built in 1971 in France as the Eagle for P&O Ferries’ service from the UK to Spain and Morocco, will sail from Sochi to Novorossyisk, Yalta, Sevastopol in the Crimea and back to Sochi from 11 June.

The itinerary covers one day calls at the Novorossiysk and Sevastopol seaports, a two day stop in Yalta. “As a matter of convenience the passengers will be offered to start and finish their cruise in the cities of Novorossiysk, Yalta, Sevastopol,"  Rosmorport, the state owned port operator that owns Black Sea Cruises said in a statement.

The company has appointed Infloflot as general ticket sales agent in accordance with the Order of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Black Sea Cruises added. Tickets would be available at the general sales agent, travel agencies around the country and online, the company stated.

Knyaz Vladimir – “Knyaz”s is Russian for Prince – has had a long and colourful career. Its initial service under the British flag only lasted until 1975, when the ship was sold to Croisieres de Paquet in France and renamed Azur. The former overnight ferry now assumed the role of a cruise ship. After 12 years in French ownership, the vessel was acquired by the Chandris group in Greece, which also employed it as a cruise ship, without a change of name.

In 1994, the ship changed hands again, when it was bought by Festival Cruises, another Greek company that was building up the nascent European source market. It was renamed The Azur at this point. However, Festival collapsed and in 2004 the ship was acquired by Mano Maritime in Israel and renamed Royal Iris.

 

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