Crystal Cruises, the luxury cruise brand in the Genting Hong Kong group, will retain its existing two ships as it embarks on a growth programme that will transform it to a lifestyle company, company officials said.
Crystal has invested so much money in upgrades of the 1995 built Crystal Symphony and the 2003 built Crystal Serenade that selling them is not an option, said Claudius Dockekal, vp deployment. The introduction of a series of newbuildings of about 100,000 gross tons that will accommodate 1,000 passengers will create a new upper echelon for the Crystal's ocean cruise operation, he said on board Crystal Symphony on Monday.
The planned new vessels that will be built at Lloyd Werft in Germany will have significantly larger cabins than those on the existing two ships and they will have one crew member for each passenger, said Paul M. Garcia, director of public relations at Los Angeles based Crystal Cruises.
He said that the all suite stateroom accommodation will also have higher ceilings, about 8.2 feet, to add to the feeling of luxury and spaciousness.
Expansion of Crystal in river cruising - it is building two river yachts - follows an explosion-like increase in the demand for cruising in Western European inland waterways, Dockekal said. However, the ability of the waterways and port facilities to accommodate a growing number of river cruise vessels is a major concern. Many operators rush their ships from one city to another, but this will not be the approach of Crystal: its river yachts will spend extended periods in ports of call to allow passengers to immerse themselves with each destination.
Expansion into river cruises was the most popular suggestion that Crystal's customers made to the company, he added.
Celebrity Esprit, the former MegaStar Taurus, which will be converted into 62 passenger yacht to launch Crystal Yacht Cruises, will also be used on the charter market as groups of wealthy individuals could charter it for their private use rather than to sail on an advertised itinerary, Garcia stated.
The company will also introduce a Boeing Dreamliner passenger jet, which will be operated on e.g. 28 night trips around the world. The itineraries will be design so that visit to destinations should coincide with a major event there. The plane will be operated and managed by a third party but marketed under the Crystal brand by the company itself.
Finally, the new ocean going ships will also have up to 48 private residences, although the actual number will depend of the demand, which again decides the size of the various apartments that will be built. Together with their own restaurant and other facilities, this section will occupy an entire deck on each ship. The residence customers will have access to use the other facilities on board.
"We are changing from a cruise company to a lifestyle company," Garcia described the outcome of the planned investment.