New Crystal CEO, Edie Rodriguez, has confirmed that the ultra luxury brand will place an order for a new ship by the end of this year. The new vessel, possibly the first of up to five previously bruited new builds for the line, will ideally sit somewhere in size between the current, repeat award winning siblings, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.
She also unveiled some new ideas regarding the potential evolution of Crystal, including a more relaxed, semi formal evening dress code (which would draw a direct bead on rival Regent Seven Seas ), as well as some further enhancements to the line’s already legendary dining roster, according to a story today on Cruise Critic. This would include bringing chef Heston Blumenthal’s concept of ‘molecular gastronomy’ to the company’s celebrated dining rooms.
The projected third vessel will be a new build, and not a return to the fleet by celebrated launch ship, Crystal Harmony. In a previous pronouncement, Rodriguez said that she would ideally like to expand the Crystal brand to no less than seven vessels, allowing the line to make itself a truly deluxe global presence- something that the shortage of new tonnage has hitherto precluded.
It is now some eleven years since the 2003 debut of the hugely successful Crystal Serenity and, while the line has constantly updated and lavished money on its current brace of ships, Crystal lacks the momentum of rivals such as Silversea, Seabourn and Regent, all of whom have built- or are currently building- new, deluxe tonnage to expand their range of options.
Rodriguez has effectively issued a statement of intent. She will lobby Crystal owners NYK, for the funds for this projected first new build.
It will be interesting to see where all this leads. Beyond the ambition for this first new build- and it is evident Rodriguez sees this as already ‘in the bag’- the big question is whether or not the cautious, inherently conservative management at NYK will back the new CEO’s vision for a total of five new ships in all.
Crystal was at one time a trio; those same owners moved the trailblazing Crystal Harmony back to NYK, for whom she now sails as Asuka II. Building a new ship- and it will take at least a couple of years to get that done- will only get Crystal back to parity with where it was in the middle of the last decade.
That said, any new Crystal ship is a truly delicious and intriguing prospect. As always, stay tuned.
UPDATE: I have received some further information regarding this project from an official spokeswoman for Crystal Cruises, which is quoted word for word here:
‘……what she (Edie) said was that it is her vision that Crystal will expand and that she’d like to be in a position to announce details of a new ship. There was definitely no announcement or confirmation of a new ship…..’
My thanks goes to Crystal Cruises for providing this update, and allowing me to amend this blog to accurately describe the current state of play as regards the company.