Crystal Cruises has announced a major brand expansion – of which the big news is the ordering of three luxury polar ice-class cruise ships from Lloyd Werft. The ships will be 1,000 passengers and more than 100,000 tons each. Delivery of the first ship is expected in late 2018. Other news announced included a luxury yacht, river cruises and a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
New company owner Genting Hong Kong has signed a letter of intent with Lloyd Werft in Germany to build the polar ice class vessels.
“Our vision and revolutionary plans for Crystal’s ocean vessels requires us to partner with a premium shipyard that has the expertise and resources to deliver the ‘Crystal Exclusive Class’,” said Tan Sri Lim, chairman. “Lloyd Werft is synonymous with successful world-class new builds and luxury mega yachts, including Luna, the second largest expedition private yacht in the world, measuring at 337 feet long (in length).”
“With an impressive 100 tons of space per guest, the average space ratio for luxury cruise ships being 60 tons per person, our new ships’ guest-to-space ratios will be vast in comparison to past, current and under- construction luxury ships, reaching all corners of the world safely, smoothly and in the utmost style and comfort,” said Edie Rodriguez, president and CEO, Crystal Cruises.
For the first time ever, guests will have the opportunity to call a Crystal ship “home,” with Crystal Residences. Situated on the top deck of the new ships will be 48 unique homes, with their own private restaurant, reception and facilities, and high ceilings (nine feet). Residences will start at 600 square feet and go to more than 4,000 square feet of interior living area, which will be the largest on the high seas.
Other features being introduced on Crystal’s new vessels are: 400 square feet minimum for the guestroom suites - nearly doubling the size on other luxury vessels; increased ceiling heights by one foot to 8 feet in all suites and decks; raising the bar on personal attention and service with 1,000 crewmembers on the ships to provide a one-to-one crew-to-guest ratio; and intrepid yacht-like amenities including submarines, helicopters and zodiacs.
Thus, the Crystal Esprit will embark on its maiden voyage later this year as the first expansion of the Crystal Cruises fleet. The 62-guest, 3,300-tonn yacht will offer intimate, exclusive, and immersive experiences with a boutique ambiance, said the company.
Technology includes a two-passenger submarine, four 10-passenger zodiacs, and a single 32-passenger yacht tender.
The spring of 2017 brings more growth with Crystal River Cruises, said a company statement. Featuring expertly curated itineraries, Crystal River Cruises will offer the hallmarks of the all-inclusive Crystal experience – six-star service, world-class dining, and enriching shore-side adventures, said the company.
Also in 2017, Crystal will launch Crystal Luxury Air with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The aircraft, which typically seats 300, will fly 60 guests in fully reclining business class seats to destinations to which major airlines do not offer nonstop service.
Each approximately 28-day itinerary will visit 10-12 remote and/or sought-after locales, with accommodations at some of the world’s finest hotels and resorts; cuisine prepared by celebrity chefs inspired by the destination; and world-class cultural entertainment, said Crystal.
By year’s end, MSC Cruises plans to launch a global campaign presenting its new market positioning, according o CEO Gianni Onorato. In an exclusive interview with Cruise Industry News, Onorato said that work was ongoing internally to better clarify the position of the brand and the company in the marketplace. Not only will the campaign position MSC as a cruise brand, it is also intended to tell new customers what the company is all about and what cruising is all about.“Today, we differentiate ourselves with our hardware and our onboard furnishing,” Onorato said.
“We also differentiate ourselves by our food; our international food offering with an Italian identity, customized to the different operating regions we are in.”
Onorato pointed out the quality of the itineraries, noting that MSC is the only company in the Mediterranean to offer seven ports on a seven-day cruise. He added: “It means we burn more fuel, sailing fast from port to port, but we are willing to do that to let our guests visit more places.
“And we are proud of our award-winning entertainment,” he continued.
“And last but not least, we have partnered with various companies and offer Lego Rooms for the kids on our ships. We are investing in food and entertainment, and we are doing a lot to be seen.”
Much has also been happening behind the scenes since Onorato came aboard two years ago. This spring, MSC completed its so-called four C’s project, hiring four chief executives forming the the basis of a new corporate structure.
Onorato has also shaken up the product department, which included five brand performance director positions. At press time he had filled four them, who have ultimate responsibility for the guest experience aboard those ships.
In addition, MSC has built up a complete training department with new educational programs and plans to hire 6,000 new crew over the next three years.
A new travel agent booking platform, MSC Book, has been rolled out in France, Italy, Germany, the UK, Austria, Switzerland and the U.S. and was scheduled to be launched in Brazil and Argentina in July and in Latin America in late August. Other countries will follow later in 2015 and in 2016.
With seven new ships contracted for deliveries through 2022, MSC’s passenger capacity will grow from an estimated 1.4 million passengers in 2015 to 2.9 million by 2022, according to Cruise Industry News estimates.
While doubling its passenger capacity over the next seven years, Onorato said the strategy is to grow and maintain the company’s leadership in the Mediterranean and in Northern Europe.
Uniquely for MSC as a European company, it is also investing heavily in North America and is looking at developing Asia for one or more ships. In addition, MSC is focused on maintaining its position in the Caribbean with European passengers, in Dubai, and in Brazil where it has five ships this year.
“The key to running a successful cruise brand is innovation,” Onorato said, “to be curious, to listen to our guests through different channels and the people who work for us, and then to implement what we are hearing. We are doing everything around what our guests and our crew are telling us.”
He added: “MSC is an exciting place to work; we are a company that operates outside the box. We are changing how we are doing things. I like to say we are a sexy company today.”
MSC Cruises dominates European markets this year with an estimated passenger capacity of nearly 1.1 million passengers, according to the 2015-2016 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.The second largest brand is Costa Crociere with an estimated passenger capacity of 912,500, trailed by AIDA with 612,000, followed by Royal Caribbean with 422,400; Norwegian, 314,200; P&O Cruises, 276,000; TUI, 241,500; and Celebrity, 241,500.
MSC has the most capacity in the Mediterranean while AIDA is the market leader in Northern Europe and the Canary Islands.
Among the recent notable changes, Royal Caribbean reduced its Mediterranean deployment from an estimated 526,000 passengers in 2012 to 301,000 this year, while maintaining approximately 90,000 in Northern Europe. Norwegian has largely maintained its capacity over the past three years.
With Costa moving more ships to Asia, MSC is expected to maintain and possibly increase its dominance in Europe.
The keel laying ceremony of the new unit for Princess Cruises has been held today at Fincantieri Monfalcone Shipyard.
The new vessel, which has been ordered by the Carnival Group for the shipowner Princess Cruises, will go to sea in 2017 and it will be the first vessel to be designed and built specifically for the Chinese market. It is the third in a line of sisters following the Royal and Regal ships.These ships represent a new technological benchmark in Europe and worldwide for their innovative layout, the outstanding performance and the top quality of their state-of-the-art technology. They witness that innovation and customer care of a market leader such the Carnival Group are essential levers to tackle a crisis such the ongoing one.
Cunard Line announced that the Queen Mary 2 will undergo an extensive 25 day dry dock refurbishment at the Blohm+Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany next summer, May 27 to June 21, 2016.
Among the changes will be the addition of 15 additional single staterooms, 30 additional Britannia Club Balcony Staterooms and ten more kennels for cats and dogs.
Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America, said:
“Queen Mary 2 is an icon in the world of luxury ocean travel. A ship that turns heads everywhere she goes, she is the pride of the Cunard fleet and we are committed to ensuring her reputation grows ever stronger.”
“These enhancements are just the beginning of an exciting refurbishment for Queen Mary 2, and we look forward to making more announcements about this impressive refit in the coming months,” Meadows added.
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 sailed into its U.S. home port, New York, this morning, escorted by a historic ships and Coastguard vessels.
The Queen Mary 2 was accompanied by the Mary A Whalen, oil tanker; the Eric R Thornton, tug boat; John J Harvey Fireboat; Nantucket Lightship, and the Pegasus Tug after she passed under the Verrazano Bridge en route to her berth at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.
This flagship's arrival marked the end of a journey that paid tribute to the original voyage made by Cunard’s first flagship, Britannia, as the company inaugurated the first scheduled mail and passenger service across the Atlantic on July 4 1840.
Cunard has been sailing in and out of New York City ever since the Hibernia first called in 1847, and the company is very proud to call Red Hook Brooklyn its home since 2006.
Sites of the company’s earlier history and its relationship to the city can be seen through the Cunard White Star sign at Pier 54 and the Cunard Building at 25 Broadway, which was completed in 1921 and is considered a New York City landmark today.
"Cunard’s relationship with the city of New York holds a distinctly unique place in our 175-year history,” said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. "New York has been our U.S. homeport for decades, and has played a significant role in the transformative world events during our history. We are very pleased today to extend our heartfelt thanks for our enduring relationship with this great city.”
New York Stock Exchange
Later today, the commemorative anniversary activities will continue when Captain Kevin Oprey, Master of Queen Mary 2, rings the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange, as a testament to the economic and industrial achievements of Cunard, as well as to the future of the brand.
“Cunard is pleased to contribute to the growing success, visibility and economic impact of the city and to be a part of New York's growing cruise business, which attracts international visitors from across the globe,” Meadows added.
Queen Mary 2 Light Show Spectacular in Front of Statue of Liberty
At approximately 9:30 pm, this evening, Queen Mary 2 will hold position in front of the Statue of Liberty for a spectacular light and music show in Battery Park. Designed by the acclaimed Quantum Theatricals, the light show will be cast over the ship, illuminating New York harbor and the sky above.
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