ESPECIALLY ESPRIT- CRYSTAL’S NEW YACHT GOES HIGH TECH

Imagine being able to glide right up to the wreck of the Britannic, the sister ship of the Titanic, as she lies sprawled like some great, fallen beast on the bottom of the Aegean. Getting up close and personal to her giant, thirty eight ton propellers; almost close enough to touch them, in fact.

Imagine cruising around the nine hundred foot long hospital ship as she looms over your small, two man submarine like some ancient, felled building.

Sounds like something straight out of the pages of a James Bond novel, right?

But soon, thanks to the newly wrought Crystal Yacht Cruises, this kind of experience could be one of the items on the menu for the sixty-two privileged guests of the soon to be commissioned new luxury yacht, Crystal Esprit.

The Crystal Esprit will carry a small, two passenger submarine on board for expedition dives on each of its voyages; a truly remarkable first for any line. And, while the circumnavigation of the Britannic, outlined above, is not an advertised activity offered on the yacht, it does serve to illustrate the sheer range of undersea possibilities that Crystal can add to complement it’s ‘wonderful world’ of adventures on the surface.

Currently being converted from the platform of the luxury yacht, Megastar Taurus at the Sembawang shipyard in Singapore, the Crystal Esprit will take highly styled, mega yacht cruising to new heights. And, on an adventurous level at least, to new depths as well.

Due to debut this winter with a maiden season in the Seychelles and Dubai, the Crystal Esprit will move to the Aegean and Croatian Riviera for the summer of 2016.

For those sybaritic souls in search of true, all inclusive style in a very intimate atmosphere, the Crystal Esprit will offer the best of all worlds, and comes complete with the all inclusive fares, together with the superlative service and cuisine that the Crystal brand is synonymous with.

At just 3,300 tons and with a capacity for sixty-two guests, the yacht will feature sumptuous, all suite accommodation, both indoor and outdoor restaurants, as well as some very expensively primped outdoor maritime real estate; think plush sofas, pod beds, and the sort of poolside service you would expect to get at a really top notch Ritz Carlton hotel- but without the bill.

In addition to the submarine already mentioned, the Crystal Esprit will also offer the use of four, ten passenger Zodiacs for exclusive adventures ashore, as well as a one off, 12 passenger, 32 metre long yacht, built by Winder, for out of this world meandering around the islets and waterways where the ship sails.

If you’re not quite ready for the level of playing Captain Nemo, there will be a whole raft of less tech-intensive ‘water toys’ available for use from the yacht. These include jet skis and wake boards, and there are also options such as scuba diving, water ski-ing, or even just fishing.

Crystal Esprit has been cruising as a deluxe yacht for Star Cruises, ever since the company acquired her in 1994. She was originally built in Germany for the long defunct Windsor Line as the Lady Sarah, back in 1991.

As things stand, the yacht has a maximum capacity for eighty passengers, which Crystal intends to pare down to sixty two. Public rooms and accommodations are spread over some four decks in all.

This hip, beautifully styled little adventurer raises the bar yet again on small ship cruising. And, for those really wanting to play at being James Bond in an amazing underwater world, there is also the welcome assurance that, this being Crystal, the Martinis served up topside will be superb as well.

Quite the fascinating premise, this one. As ever, stay tuned for further news.

Sail the best of the balmy Aegean on a stunning Crystal Yacht cruises adventure from 2016.

Sail the best of the balmy Aegean on a stunning Crystal Yacht cruises adventure from 2016.

NEW ANTIQUES- VOYAGES TO ANTIQUITY’S WINTER 2014-15 CRUISE PROGRAMME

The Aegean Odyssey returns to the Far East in 2104

The Aegean Odyssey returns to the Far East in 2014

Following on from the cancellation of this year’s scheduled programme of winter cruises, Voyages to Antiquity unveiled a carefully rethought season for next winter on September 9th.

A series of twelve cruise tours are scheduled between November 2014 and March 2015, and these will once again be carried out by the refurbished, highly styled Aegean Odyssey. The ship has recently benefited from the addition of some twenty six single cabins, making her a more affordable option for solo travelers interested in long range expedition voyages.

The cruises showcase a string of inaugural calls along east Africa, and each features an included three day, two night tour that takes in both Tsavo and Ambroseli national parks to savour the diverse array of wildlife this region is famed for.

In addition, there will be Indian Ocean cruises, intended to showcase such gems as Zanzibar, Mayotte, and the Seychelles and Maldive Islands,

There will also be a special India cruise, highlighting the showpieces of the fabled subcontinent, including the Taj Mahal, as well as an inclusive, five day land tour that takes in the highlights of Jaipur, Agra and Delhi.

Aegean Odyssey offers old style pleasures; steamer chairs and parasols

Aegean Odyssey offers old style pleasures; steamer chairs and parasols

After the success of her 2012 season, the Aegean Odyssey also makes a welcome return to the mystical lands of Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. Here, the small size of the ship comes into its own, allowing her to dock right in the heart of such historic cities as Saigon and Yangon for overnight stays.

Most intriguing for me personally is an evocative adventure that takes in Indonesia and the Phillippines, allowing for the chance to get up close and personal to the legendary Komodo dragon, if you’re feeling particularly brave.

All things considered, this is a broad and sweeping schedule that allows passengers to take in such fabled sights as Angkor Wat, the imperious Taj Mahal and the glories of Shweydaggon, while also allowing some potentially idyllic downtime on the gorgeous blond beaches of the Maldives and the secluded, splendid Seychelles.

Aegean Odyssey operates as a comfortable, floating ‘home from home’ in the style of a casually informal country club, with a smart casual dress code. With a maximum of around 379 passengers, she offers open seating dining both indoors and alfresco, with complimentary beers and wines included at dinner.

The ship offers top rate guest lecturers on each itinerary, and all tours are included in the price of the package, as well as flights, pre or post cruise hotel stays, and all transfers. This is cerebral, in depth educational cruising, carried out in very fine style indeed.

Savour the majesty of beautiful Burma

Savour the majesty of beautiful Burma

It is also worth mentioning that all tours are carried out in small groups, and all passengers are supplied with ‘quiet boxes’ in their cabins. These allow you to hear your tour guides quite clearly at all times when you are off the ship exploring.

Brochure prices start at £3,150 for an eighteen day cruise tour for the season, based on inside cabins. These are fine but, if you can spring for it, I definitely recommend upgrading to one of the lovely, cove balcony cabins in the aft part of the ship. These are definitely worth the extra.