In a move poised to trigger a potential tsunami in the luxury cruise ship sector, new Crystal Cruises CEO, Edie Bornstein, has stated that she sees the brand increasing in scale from it’s current two vessels to no less than seven ships within a decade, as well as a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, according to a report made public by Seatrade Insider.
Bornstein’s philosophy is to have possibly one ultra luxurious ship on each continent and, after years of extensive refurbishments of the existing, superlative duo of Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, it marks a real statement of intent; the largest single one ever made in the luxury market.
She is reportedly travelling to Japan next month for talks with parent company, NYK, with regard to financing. To meet her ambitious target, any plans and orders would need to be firmed up very quickly.
An additional five new ships would mandate the delivery of a new vessel every two years, starting from now. It appears likely that exploratory talks with some yards have already been initiated.
One option to jump start the programme would be the return of Asuka II, the formerly much loved Crystal Harmony, to the Crystal fold. I always felt that her removal was a mistake that hurt the global reach of the line.
With a new luxury ship on order for Seabourn, as well as one for Regent, and the new twin sisters of the start up Viking Cruises, the luxury market is on the cusp of a wave of new builds unseen since the late nineties. Rumours continue to surface about the possibility of new orders for Azamara Cruises as well. And 2014 will also see the long delayed debut of the much bruited Pearl Mist Cruises, another start up operator hoping to take a slice of the deluxe market.
As for Crystal, they are currently sailing the 50,000 ton Crystal Symphony, built in Finland in 1995, and the 68,000 ton Crystal Serenity, built in the French St. Nazaire yard in 2003. Between them, the two ultra luxury ships- consistently rated as the best in the world- offer around 2200 berths, among the highest total in the luxury ship market.
The Crystal sisters continue to benefit from a constant programme of imaginative, very comprehensive upgrades to both accommodation and passenger facilities. These have been hugely instrumental in keeping both ships at the apex of the luxury cruise tree.
However, while offering some of the most exotic and diverse itineraries afloat, these two ships simply cannot cover the globe, or offer the diverse itineraries of rivals such as Silversea and Regent. At least one new ship has to be seen as an absolute priority for the line.
These are potentially very interesting developments indeed. As always, stay tuned.