In this way, we keep up to date not just with the many new products being introduced by Crystal's deep pocketed owner Genting, but also with the constant innovation and upgrading on board which is a hallmark of the Crystal brand...
Crystal River Cruises
This year we sailed on the first of the Crystal river fleet, Crystal Mozart, which launched last summer on the Danube. We have spoken of the Crystal difference before - in the European river cruise market, where it is notoriously hard to differentiate between products, Crystal is a real stand-out, mainly because they have brought the Crystal Cruises style to the rivers, rather than looking at how the competition works.
The key differences include an amazing crew to passenger ratio, with the very charming and attentive 'Crystal attitude' for which the company is known, butlers for all accommodation, very spacious suites and staterooms, high tech attention to detail, all-inclusive pricing, genuine open seating dining (virtually unheard of elsewhere on the European rivers) with lots of tables for two, alternative dining options including the casual deli style Blue, the gourmet Vintage Room, an evening tapas menu in the Bistro, and of course 24 hour room service. All food is fresh and locally sourced, of a very high quality.
In addition, Crystal Mozart introduced shoreside dining options with their Michelin star programme, which will be expanded in the future to include much more flexibility with a wider choice of options such as 'eat like a local', and a far more personalised experience.
Furthermore, the extensive choice of included shore excursions, using a choice of transport options including Crystal's own fleet of spacious motorcoaches, as well as state-of-the-art e-bikes, mean that guests choosing a Crystal river cruise can tailor every detail of their trip to their own tastes and preferences.
Crystal Yacht Cruises
In 'other news', we were pleased to hear that ratings for Crystal's little yacht Crystal Esprit have gone through the roof, and we look forward to the vessel's permanent repositioning to the West Indies and British Virgin Islands at the end of the year. And watch this space for more news of the amazing expedition yacht Crystal Endeavor, due to go on sale towards the end of the year.
Crystal Symphony & Crystal Serenity refurbishments
More than exciting are the plans for the refurbishment of Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, referred to as the 'Evolution of Crystal luxury'. Following extensive drydocks this October (Symphony) and in 2018 (Serenity) we will see a number of new food and beverage options, including a Brazilian churrascuria, upscale Asian fusion at Trident Grill, a re-imagined relationship with Nobu Matsuhisa to create Umi Uma (Japanese for seahorse), and more.
The upgrading of many A1 category staterooms, to Seabreeze Penthouses and Seabreeze Penthouse Suites, will immediately address two historical problems - the size of the accommodation, and the challenge of two seating dining. (The new capacities of the two ships, at 860 for Crystal Symphony and 980 for Crystal Serenity, will mean that they can at last introduce genuine open seating dining).
The introduction of state-of the art technologies is heralded with unlimited free WiFi from April 2017 across the fleet, whilst a new VP of entertainment is focussing on a complete upgrade of daytime and evening entertainment with new types of programming and a number of new features.