Crystal Cruises’ plan to deploy both of its ships on world
cruise itineraries in 2018 is drawing attention to the growing number of cruise
lines now offering two world cruises each year.
The world cruise was once the pinnacle of a line’s
portfolio, but few had fleets large enough to devote more than one ship to an
itinerary that lasted from 90 to 120 days, nor could they find enough
passengers to fill multiple world cruises.
Today, beyond Crystal, there are at least four other lines
offering a choice of two world cruises, including Costa, Cunard Line, P&O and
Princess. Oceania has scheduled back-to-back, 180-day world cruises.
Travel agents with experience selling luxury cruises said
there are several factors behind the rise in dual world cruises. One is that
American consumers are doing well as a result of a healthier economy and have
more money to spend. Also, cruise fleets have been growing, enabling lines to
spare ships for longer itineraries.
Moreover, baby boomers are moving into the years when they
can afford more than the 10 days or two weeks they have previously allotted for
a cruise, and many want to experience a longer voyage.
Finally, cruise lines are increasingly developing source
markets overseas that want to leave on a world cruise from a convenient port.
That said, the Crystal pairing of its only two ships is a
unique leap of faith into the world cruise waters.
“It’s never been done before. It’s novel,” said Paul Largay,
owner of Largay Travel in Waterbury, Conn. “I like it because it’s
The plan calls for the Crystal Symphony to embark on its
world cruise from Cape Town, South Africa, and for the Crystal Serenity to
depart Los Angeles two weeks later. The two ships will meet up in Sydney on
There, passengers on one ship will have the chance to
transfer to the other, creating the possibility of four separate itineraries
from which passengers can choose. Crystal said it gave past passengers a
different option than they could get on other lines.
“The 2018 World Cruise voyages are a true testament to
Crystal’s continued innovation and creativity and to our commitment to guests
in broadening their luxury travel experiences,” said Crystal President Edie
Annie Scrivanich, senior vice president at Cruise
Specialists in Seattle, which has a heavy emphasis on world cruise sales, said
she has already sold several 2018 cabins.
“We’re very excited about it,” Scrivanich said. One reason
she cited for the excitement is that the dual itineraries will make it easier
for guests to depart and return from a U.S. port without a long international
So guests can depart on the Crystal Serenity from Los Angeles
and instead of continuing on to Rome, board the Crystal Symphony in Sydney and
finish their cruise in Miami on April 30.
Other cruise lines offer roundtrip cruises leaving from U.S.
ports. For example, Princess Cruises’ 111-day world cruise on the Pacific
Princess this year will go roundtrip from Los Angeles.
But Princess is also offering a second world cruise
departing May 15 on the Sea Princess from Sydney. The 104-night cruise takes advantage of the
slower winter season in the Southern Hemisphere and enables cruisers from the
rapidly growing Australian market to skip the flight to Los Angeles.
Likewise, Costa Cruises’ Costa Atlantica has just departed
on the first world cruise aimed primarily at Chinese passengers. It left March
1 on an 86-day roundtrip itinerary from Shanghai.
Meanwhile, the Costa Deliziosa is progressing on a 115-day
world cruise that departed Savona, Italy on Jan. 6.
Oceania Cruises scheduled three world cruises operating back
to back on the Insignia, although the first, originally slated to depart in
January, was delayed by repairs after a fire that broke out on the ship last
The second 180-day voyage kicks off July 8 from Miami and
takes an northeasterly route via Canada and the Baltic region. The ship
immediately departs on another 180-day voyage on its return to Miami Jan. 4,
this time sailing south through the Caribbean before heading to Africa.
When it scheduled the July cruise, in late 2013, Oceania
said the first 180-day trip had sold out in eight hours.
Two lines have more than one world cruise leaving from
Southampton, England. P&O Cruises’ Aurora and Arcadia left two days apart
from each other in early January, and Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 and Queen
Elizabeth both left Jan. 10 for 112-day roundtrips.
Silversea, meanwhile, is operating its Silver Whisper from
Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale.
Other lines offer shorter voyages.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Grand Voyage from Tokyo to London
on the Seven Seas Voyager is 87 days.
A 97-day New World Exploration cruise on the Seabourn
Odyssey in December takes in South America, the South Pacific and Hawaii.
More free time
Ian Biddlecomb, president of Travel TST, near Vancouver,
said the baby boom generation is finally starting to have enough free time for
longer cruises, world cruises in particular.
“What we’re starting to see is that the long-awaited boomer
market, which we were told five or seven years ago would be the end-all, is
finally coming into fruition,” Biddlecomb said. “And we’re seeing a lot of
people in that age bracket with a lot of larger inheritances … coming their
way, and they’re wanting to take these unusual, longer-extension trips.”
Biddlecomb said the Crystal hop-on, hop-off world cruise has
tickled the fancy of his customers.
“I’ve got quite a few world clients who are looking at that
right now and trying to make decisions,” he said. “They’re thrilled with that.
Crystal has been reaching out of the box and doing some different things
Largay said that one thing his clients are sorting through
with the Crystal dual cruises is whether they want to leave their friends
halfway through a trip.
“We find that with a full world cruise, they sort of start
to become part of a community on a particular ship,” he said. “They become
creatures of habit.”
Even so, Largay said, the possibility of switching ships
mid-itinerary will be a “conversation starter.”
“It’s about time Crystal did something to put themselves
back in the public view, in the conversation,” Largay said. “And this, if
nothing else, will do just that. It can’t do anything but help the marketing
and sales of Crystal.”
He added that the recent announcement that Crystal will have
a newbuild by 2018 makes the dual-cruise strategy more viable.
“What strikes me the most is the percentage of actual ships
dedicated,” Largay said. “When you’re talking about some of the lines,
percentage-wise, having two ships dedicated to it doesn’t make a significant
difference in terms of additional options available to people who might not
want to be on a world cruise.
“What happens [to Crystal] over the next 18 months, and the
number of ships in its fleet, will determine what the impact will be on