Genting Hong Kong CEO Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay and Crystal Cruises CEO Edie Rodriguez celebrate the initial steel-cutting for the first new Crystal river ship on Monday.
Genting Hong Kong CEO Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay and Crystal Cruises CEO Edie Rodriguez celebrate the initial steel-cutting for the first new Crystal river ship on Monday. Photo Credit: Jeri Clausing

WISMAR, Germany — Crystal Cruises CEO Edie Rodriguez announced deals Tuesday to build two more luxury river yachts, bringing to seven the total number of ships the company plans to deploy across Europe by 2019.

The announcement was made by Rodriguez at the Wismar yard, one of four shipyards owned by Crystal's parent, Genting Hong Kong (GHK). It came a day after Rodriguez and her boss, GHK chairman and CEO Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, attended ceremonies at two other shipyards to mark key achievements in the company’s aggressive expansion plans.

On Monday afternoon, Rodriguez pressed the button on a massive steel-cutting machine to make the ceremonial first cut for the four new river yachts scheduled to launch in summer 2017.

“This seemingly simple act was an absolute thrill, as it represents a very important milestone in the growth of the Crystal brand,” Rodriguez said.

Earlier in the day, officials and media from around the world attended the grand opening of the Lloyd Werft Group Design Center, a renovated building in Bremerhaven, Germany, that will enable the company to more than double its current staff of 90 to meet the aggressive growth plans for Crystal and GHK’s other lines, Star Cruises and the new Dream Cruises.

In addition to new river yachts, GHK’s shipyards are building for Crystal a new expedition yacht, the Endeavor, as well as the first of three planned “Exclusive Class” luxury ocean ships, which will be among the most spacious at sea and include multimillion-dollar luxury residences.

Lloyd Werft Group officials put a price tag for 10 ships (six river yachts, the Endeavor polar yacht, an Exclusive Class ocean ship and two Star Cruises ships) at $3.5 billion euros.

The strong focus on a quick expansion of its European river yacht fleet, Rodriguez said, is in response to customer demand and the company’s goal of creating “the world’s most luxurious hospitality and lifestyle brand portfolio.”

River cruises, she said, topped the list of wants in a survey of Crystal Society members.

The ships, she said, will substantially raise the bar on river cruising, with spacious suites that include walk-in closets and king-size beds. The ships also will have extensive spa and fitness centers.

Rodriguez and company officials said they are also developing the most exclusive excursions and fine dining that will feature only the freshest of food. The company will purchase its own excursion buses to ensure comfort and consistency with things like Wi-Fi and onboard cappuccino machines.

“We will be the most luxurious vessels on the river,” she said. “Hopefully this is just the first of many, many more to come.”

Crystal’s  first river yacht, the refitted Mozart, launches July 13. The first four newbuilds — Mahler, Debussy, Ravel and Bach —  are scheduled to begin cruising next year. And the two ships announced Tuesday are scheduled to launch in 2018 and 2019.

In April, the company began flying its 12-seater Bombardier jet, which seats 13 and has a range of 11 to 12 hours.

In December, it launched its first ocean yacht, the Esprit, which is part of its new smaller, more adventurous cruise product aimed at younger travelers and giving loyal cruisers more options.

Next year, the company plans to launch its first  luxury “air cruises” on a Boeing 777 that is currently being retrofitted with all lay-flat seats and other Crystal touches.

In 2018, the Endeavor is scheduled  to join the luxury yacht fleet along with a yet-to-be-named ocean liner. Crystal’s luxury air service also expects to take delivery of the 787 Dreamliner  that GHK has ordered for its “air cruises” that year.

Rodriguez gave the media a preview of the company’s new luxury air service Monday with a charter flight to the German shipyards from the company’s annual gala for top-selling travel agents, who were hosted this year on a Mediterranean cruise aboard the Crystal Symphony.

The jet can seat up to 13 passengers in first-class style, and has a range of 10 to 11 hours.

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI