Crystal Cruises, operating some of the most beautiful ships in the world, is a company that constantly raises the bar in luxury cruising thanks to the deep pockets of its Hong Kong-based owner.
The line’s best-known ships, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, have always been synonymous with ultra-luxury, offering all the trappings of six-star cruises but in the setting of a bigger vessel (they carry 922 and 1,070 passengers respectively).
Both are about to undergo dramatic refurbishment, with Crystal Symphony emerging in October 2017 and Serenity in November 2018, complete with new décor, new open-seating restaurants (including a continuation of the line’s collaboration with celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa) and even more luxurious staterooms. As several cabins are being converted into suites, the capacity of each ship will reduce: to 848 for Crystal Symphony and 980 for Serenity. From what I have seen, they are going to look stunning and will keep Crystal right up there as a rival to Silversea, Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, all of which have recently launched new ships.
There is more, though. In 2015, Crystal introduced a tiny yacht, Crystal Esprit, to its portfolio. Carrying just 62 and complete with features like a three-person submarine, not to mention dining to rival that on the bigger ships, the yacht really does inspire a sense of cruising like an oligarch as you tour the most exclusive ports of the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Such has been the success of Esprit that Crystal is now building a brand new expedition yacht, the 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor, launching in 2019, complete with butlers, six restaurants, two helicopters and two submarines – and even underwater scooters for guests to play on.
Crystal has branched out into river cruising, too. First, it renovated an older ship to create the opulent Crystal Mozart, sailing the Danube, and now, two custom-built river cruisers, Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler, join the fleet to sail the Rhine and Danube, offering all-suites, all-inclusive service, butlers, multiple dining choices and innovative experiences; not least the chance to have dinner ashore in a choice of Michelin-starred restaurants.
With two more to follow, and a new class of ocean-going ship within the next six years complete with private apartments, these are exciting times for this innovative cruise line and its fans.
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