Edie Bornstein was in New York City last week making her first visit to a Crystal Cruises ship since being named president of the luxury line earlier this month. She sat down with Destinations Editor Johanna Jainchill to discuss the luxury cruise market and whether the two-ship line might someday grow.
Q: Perhaps because you worked at Carnival, there seems to be fear that Crystal might be "Carnivalized." Can you address that?
A: Obviously anyone who says that doesn't know me and my luxury past. I interpret that they are intimating two things; one, that due to cost-cutting measures you'd cut out services, and two, you'd take an ultra-luxury, best-of-the-best brand and maybe bring it down a notch. Neither of those things under my leadership are my intent. My goal for this brand is to not take away anything, but to figure out how cost-effectively to add luxurious accouterments to the existing extraordinary experience.
Q: There are a number of luxury cruise lines. Is there enough business to go around in the luxury sector?
A: Absolutely, yes. This is a big world, and there are a lot of luxury clients out there. We work in a great industry where just about everybody is delivering, at a bare minimum, a good product and at Crystal a really incredible [one]. I think competition is good; it makes us all work harder. I wish them well, and it allows us to ensure we continue to raise the bar going forward -- a bar that is so high you'd wonder how we could raise it any higher. But we will seek to find those little ways.
Q: What in your view is Crystal's niche within the luxury niche?
A: The service level. There is a reason that for nearly two decades Crystal has won world's best, year after year. Until you have an opportunity to experience it firsthand, it's really hard to understand the magic that is created. Once you experience it, you get it. ... The service, bar none, is better than anything I've seen or experienced anywhere in the world on both land and at sea. And I make that statement as a 32-year industry veteran and a traveler who's traveled on just about every brand, land and sea combinations on all seven continents to over 100 countries around the world.
Q: Crystal has been a leader in announcing future itineraries early. What is the advantage to that and will you continue?
A: Yes, we absolutely expect to continue doing it. The advantage is ... the further out somebody books the more advantageous it is to them for savings. Our goal is to always be as far out as possible to release itineraries so our guests can maximize their savings. And it's working. Case in point, our 2015 world cruise has over 700 full world cruisers booked.
Q: Viking, Regent, Silversea and likely Seabourn will add ships in the coming years. Can Crystal stay competitive by refurbishing its two existing vessels?
A: They already have. Seabourn brought out three new ships, and it hasn't hurt [Crystal]. I think that because of the service that's delivered and the exquiteness in the way this ship and the other ship will be refurbished is a testament to that. Our hardware is great. Even when you bring out new, new is only new for a year in this industry. The upkeep and the refresh of the vessels give it longevity. I think as long as this brand continues to do the great things they are doing, the competition can surround us as much as they like with new vessels, but we will still continue to win those No. 1 placement awards. And of course, we'd like to grow. Who wouldn't like to grow? So stand by. Let's see what the future brings with regard to growing vis-a-vis new ships.
Follow Johanna Jainchill on Twitter @jjainchilltw.
Correction: There are more than 700 full world cruisers booked for 2015, not 70 as previously stated.