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During Crystal’s 2019 annual sales gala onboard Crystal Serenity, the brand updated top-performing travel agents about its Crystal River Cruises product as well as its ocean developments, including yacht and expeditions.
In anticipation of the company’s 30th anniversary next year, Tom Wolber, president and CEO of Crystal, remained focused on the goal of stabilizing the business by simplifying, amplifying and accelerating.
“We are getting where we need to be,” he said. “We are getting back to where we were.”
To that end, Crystal’s latest marketing campaign — “Where Luxury is Personal” — spotlights both its exceptional crew and pampered guests. The brand is also demonstrating its commitment to travel advisors by continuously optimizing the Cruise Builder online booking engine, Seaware reservation system and new consumer-facing website, which enables customers to share selections with their agents.
During the sales gala, Wolber noted that while the luxury line’s hardware cannot outshine its cultural software, Crystal is preparing to launch new ships, starting with the 200-guest Crystal Endeavor in August 2020. The vessel will add the expedition market to Crystal’s portfolio, which already encompasses the ocean, river and yacht segments. In fact, the Crystal Esprit yacht is the brand’s highest-rated product, drawing more new-to-Crystal guests (66%) than loyalists (34%), so its adventurous sibling will come at a good time to foster further growth.
In terms of demographics, Esprit caters to younger, active and adventurous clientele as well as families with older children, according to Mark Spillane, director of sales and marketing for Crystal Yacht & Expedition Cruises. Guests on the more rugged expedition itineraries skew younger, although the average age of passengers is 65 — still on par with the rest of Crystal’s fleet.
Besides remote expeditions, Endeavor will feature Destination Exploration (landings in rare locales and notable cities with an expedition angle) and Cultural Discovery (focused on experiences, landings and insight). Cultural cruises will include one complimentary tour per person, per day.
The expedition ship will also offer 18 zodiacs, along with equipment such as kayaks, snorkeling gear, stand-up paddleboards and remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs). Additionally, airport transfers, gratuities, a parka-warming closet and more will be included. However, there will be a charge for utilizing the ship’s pair of helicopters — where every passenger will have a window seat — and its singular submarine.
Most notably, Endeavor will head to Antarctica via the Ross Sea toward the rare Tasmania and New Zealand side.
“It is Antarctica on steroids,” said Claudius Docekal, vice president of deployment for Crystal.
Passengers will arrive in style, occupying 90 Deluxe Suites, eight Penthouse Suites, an Expedition Penthouse or the Owner’s Suite before exploring alongside an expedition team of 25 experts.
But Crystal isn’t stopping there. Following the success of Crystal Symphony and Serenity, the line’s Diamond Class of ocean ships will come online in 2022. Wolber wouldn’t share more details during the gala, other than that the company is currently perfecting the design, which has now grown a little bit with larger stateroom sizes. More specifics will be presented when possible, he said, but he assured attendees that the Diamond Class will have all the elements for which Crystal vessels are known.
In the meantime, advisors can continue to offer clients consistent Crystal quality across the board.
“You can literally blindfold our guests, put them on the ocean, a river or the Esprit yacht, and they know they’re on a Crystal brand experience,” said Carmen Roig, the company’s senior vice president of marketing and sales.
Pro tip: Agents can now reserve Crystal itineraries that are available three years in advance (into 2022). While the line is seeing a trend of clients booking closer to departure date, Crystal is also wisely recognizing that some travelers book more than two years into the future.