Crystal, now a division of A&K Travel Group, is set to return this year with its pair of larger ocean ships. Crystal Serenity is first scheduled to return on July 31 from Marseille, France, and Crystal Symphony is set to sail Sept. 1 from Athens, Greece.
To get a better sense of how the brand plans to reemerge, TravelAge West asked Jack Anderson, the line’s returning president, to share his vision for the revitalized brand.
What is the overall vision for the new Crystal and its reduced fleet? How much of the brand will remain from before?
The new vision for Crystal is “Exceptional at Sea,” which will usher in a new era of Exceptional Suites, Exceptional Service, Exceptional Dining and Exceptional Experiences — keeping what guests know and love while bringing in new elements, as well.
When service resumes, the biggest change will be the reduction in guest capacity. Crystal Serenity will have only 740 guests onboard, and Crystal Symphony will have 606 guests. That reduction will create so much more space, allowing guests greater access to restaurants, pool lounges and nearly one staff member per guest.
What will also remain is the world-class dining and entertainment, along with the exceptional service that always set Crystal apart from the other lines and made it an award-winning cruise line several years in a row. Consumers have already seen our newly designed website and branding, with many more new initiatives to be announced soon.
What kind of refurbishments can guests expect on Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony?
Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony are currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment. When they set sail in July and September, respectively, guests will find more spacious suites, with elevated details and contemporary craftsmanship. The spa is being revamped, and we have added pickleball, as well as a fresh approach to entertainment and events programming.
As part of the A&K Travel Group, we are working closely with our new sister brand, Abercrombie & Kent, to enhance the Crystal product both onboard and through our new shore experiences program.
Guests will also find several of our public spaces and restaurants updated with improved dining concepts. We cannot wait for guests to see the reimagined Crystal ships that will continue to deliver the exceptional service guests have come to know and love. As part of A&K Travel Group, we are working closely with our new sister brand, Abercrombie & Kent, to enhance the Crystal product both onboard and through our new shore experiences program.
Regarding the stateroom and suite configurations and reduced capacities, will all previous categories still be available?
Both Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony will include two new guestroom categories — the Single Guest Room with Ocean View and the Jr. Crystal Penthouse Suite. We have listened to guests’ feedback and are combining various room categories to create larger suites and living spaces.
As a result, this increases the availability of the popular Sapphire Suite category. Additionally, we have created the new Single Guest Room with Ocean View as an option for solo travelers without the worry of paying additional single supplements.
The line just revealed that veteran Crystal hotel directors are returning. How much more of the classic crew can guests expect to be onboard?
We are thrilled that we have been able to retain more than 80% of our operations teams, shoreside team members and crew. We plan to launch with nearly 70% of our former crew onboard. We are committed to creating a product that's even better than before, and our service culture, attention to detail and personal touch are all a big part of that.
Do you have any other messages for the travel advisor community?
First, a big thank you. We have so many valued travel advisors, and we wouldn’t be able to make this return to service successful without them. We look forward to hosting several advisors on our preview cruises so they can see firsthand the beautiful, updated ships and share with their clients just how exceptional Crystal will be.