Crystal offers short-cruise options in Mediterranean

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CrystalSerenity-shortCrystal Cruises for the first time is offering a full season of short-cruise options on existing, longer voyages in the Mediterranean.

Twelve short cruises of between five and eight days are being offered between July and December.

The new program, Crystal Getaways, allows passengers, for example, to book a five-day segment from Cannes, France, to Rome, departing Aug. 1, rather than the full, 12-day Lisbon-to-Rome cruise, departing July 25.

The shorter options are offered only on the 1,070-passenger Crystal Serenity.

Each of the getaway cruises is shown on the ship’s online sailing calendar; they are identified with the same cruise number as the longer voyage but with an “A” or “B” after the number.

“We really haven’t been known as a short-cruise operator,” said Crystal spokeswoman Mimi Weisband. “But seven-day sailings sold so quickly, with short lead times, that we figured this would be a nice way to reach those travelers who can’t take the time, who want to try us, and/or who want to combine the cruise with other stays in Europe.”

The Crystal Getaway product is similar to interport cruises offered by most European lines and some U.S. lines, which enable passengers to select from multiple embarkation and disembarkation ports.

Crystal’s program, however, offers just one short-cruise option per existing voyage, with one embarkation port for passengers who choose the option.

Jack Anderson, the line’s senior vice president of marketing and sales, said that Crystal Getaways “conveniently enables those less familiar with cruising, or [with] Crystal, to dip their toe into our six-star waters.”

The getaway cruises were designed to attract “professionals and non-retired vacationers” who don’t have time for a longer cruise, added Crystal spokeswoman Susan Wichmann.

“We know that some travelers want to try Crystal but don’t want to commit to a longer sailing,” she said.

“Shorter cruises fill within a shorter lead time, so since we had the space, and it was relatively close in, we knew we could create this new group of cruise choices and have a viable time to sell them,” Wichmann added. “We know this is an attractive option for Europeans, and we have been increasing our international business every year.”

Agent Douglas Crosby of Holiday Cruises & Tours in Henderson, Nev., said he was concerned that “the short cruises will disrupt the flow of the staff.”

“They’ll have to turn the ship over mid-itinerary for I don’t know how many staterooms, and that will interrupt the normal flow of how the staff interacts with passengers,” Crosby said.

Crosby will check out the situation in person when he sails July 1 on Crystal’s annual gala cruise for high producers. That sailing, from Istanbul to Monaco, offers a getaway option from Athens to Monaco.

Silversea several years ago rolled out a short-cruise option called Personalized Voyages. It enabled passengers to custom-design their cruise by choosing its length and selecting embarkation and disembarkation ports from a list of approved cities. The line required a minimum cruise of five nights.

But Silversea has stopped marketing the program. “We still accept requests for Personalized Voyages, although the information is no longer on our website,” a Silversea spokeswoman said.

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