“Sometimes I think, ‘you can’t make this stuff up’,” says Edie Rodriguez, CEO of Crystal Cruises, when referring to some of the wild and crazy things asked for by meetings and incentives groups.
But this hasn’t stopped the cruise line from pushing the boundaries on what they can do for groups at sea.
The latest involves major overhauls to Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity in 2017 and 2018. Staterooms will be converted into luxury, butler-serviced penthouses (40 to Symphony and 38 to Serenity) and groups can also expect refreshed public spaces, creative dining options and high-tech perks such as interactive TVs and free WiFi. The additional penthouses will effectively reduce the overall room count of both ships while simultaneously increasing per-guest space ratio and creating a more intimate environment for attendees.
On the dining front, attendees can say goodbye to assigned seating and expect Michelin-level cuisine in a variety of formats, whether an open kitchen with made to order dishes, Brazilian-inspired tapas or seafood presented on sword-like skewers.
When it comes to luxury, Crystal Cruises’ VP of global charter sales and special products, Bruce Setloff, says the cruise line follows a path of exclusivity, customization. You can spot all three ideas in some of Crystal’s recent developments.
First case in point is Crystal AirCruises, which is transforming a twin-aisle Boeing 777 into the ultimate incentive experience for top performers: an 84-passenger air cruise for 15- to 29-day itineraries to India, East Africa, Australia, China, France and Italy. Debuting this August, groups cruising the skies can expect luxury accommodations, Michelin-level dining and local cultural entertainment. The air cruises come at the heels of another development that happened last year with Crystal Luxury Air: the launch of an ultra-long-range aircraft. A Bombardier Global Express XRS is now available for private charters and giving attendees a lift to Crystal’s ocean yacht or river voyages.
“Crystal’s definition of luxury has always remained simple: genuine service, exclusive experiences and the commitment to exceeding guests’ wishes and expectations,” explains Setloff. “There really is no one definition of luxury, but what luxury groups value most is the ability to create experiences that are meaningful for them, and that they can tailor to their preferences.”
The success of last year’s maiden voyage of the tech-savvy Crystal Mozart on the Danube River also positioned Crystal River Cruises as a contender for small meeting and incentive cruises. Live camera views from three vantage points showed those of us at home a mosaic of medieval villages and expansive landscapes. Crystal Bach and Crystal Maher river yachts are expected to follow suit this year and the Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel in 2018. All four of the river yachts, dubbed the Rhine Class, will bring all-butler, all-suite options to European cruising, as well as the cruise line’s signature butler service, king-size beds and other luxe amenities.
Crystal’s definition of luxury has always remained simple: genuine service, exclusive experiences and the commitment to exceeding guests’ wishes and expectations.
Plans were also recently announced for the first purpose-built polar class megayacht, the Crystal Endeavor, to Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises. The expedition vessel, complete with a luxe spa, villas and penthouses for a little pampering, will cruise the Arctic in the summer and follow the route of migrating whales along the coast of the Americas and Europe to Antarctica during winter. Adventurous groups will relish in the yacht’s submarine, helicopter, fishing, snorkel and scuba excursions.