As so much has happened, it seems appropriate to take a whistle stop tour through the key announcements of the past year. In July 2015, the company outlined plans to build three new 'big' ships (1000 guests), to include a number of private residences for purchase, plus two river cruise vessels, and a converted yacht. By August there was further news of a Boeing Business Jet B777-200LR, for Crystal Luxury Air.
By September we saw evidence of Genting's determination to achieve its goals. Faced with limited yard space which would delay its build plans, Genting Hong Kong entered into an agreement to acquire Lloyd Werft, a shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany. At the beginning of November, more news from Genting made the acquisition of Lloyd Werft more critical: plans to create Dream Cruises, the first-ever Asian based premium cruise line brand, to start with the timely delivery of two new ships: Genting Dream to debut in November 2016, and World Dream in November 2017.
Lo and behold during the quiet period the river vessels had gone forth and multiplied - five luxury river yachts would join the fleet, with the first (the refurbished Crystal Mozart) to launch in July 2016, a full year earlier than planned, and the remaining four in 2017, all of which went on sale at the end of November 2015. In December, Crystal Esprit arrived in the Seychelles and was christened to great fanfare at Eden Island Marina in Mahé. Whilst on board the line's new brand campaign - All Exclusive - was launched, as a reiteration of the 'most significant brand expansion in luxury travel and hospitality.' More news of the air fleet came at the same time: the existing aircraft to be joined by an ultra-long range jet, the Bombardier Global Express XRS, for private charter.
Come February, the latest announcement came out of the blue: an exclusive purchase option agreement to begin work on returning the historic vessel SS United States - known as 'America's Flagship' - to service. A feasibility study is currently under way. In March we were back to new builds, with the announcement at the Seatrade conference of plans to build the world's first purpose-built polar class megayacht, to accommodate 200 guests on global expeditions. Crystal Endeavor will be equipped with a whole range of state of the art 'toys'.
April saw another pass from left field, with plans to make the historic Shrine Building in downtown Miami Crystal's central display location for its luxury portfolio. The 1930s Art Deco landmark located on Biscayne Boulevard will offer the opportunity for travellers to preview Crystal products in advance of purchase, and will open in Spring 2017. Towards the end of the month, the acquisition of Nordic Yards' three shipyards was complete, ready for the signing of an order for eight new ships from Crystal Cruises, and a further two for existing sister company Star Cruises. (The eight ships include an additional two river vessels - bringing the total fleet to seven, the Crystal Endeavor, and the first of the proposed 1000 guest 'triplets' announced back in July).
Phew! Watch this space for more news from Crystal…
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· Edwina reviews Crystal Mozart