Crystal Cruises Charts a New Course

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Crystal Cruises, meeting planning
Crystal Esprit, Crystal Cruises

Known for its high-end ambience and unparalleled amenities—such as butler service—Crystal Cruises is about to introduce the 60-ft, 31-suite Esprit yacht, and has announced plans for two new ships built specifically for river cruises, starting in 2017.

“Sixty-two people are all the Esprit will hold. To put it in perspective, that’s half the size of a lifeboat on one of our big ships,” says Bruce Setloff, VP of global charter sales.

For companies, that affords the chance to create the charter experience of a lifetime for incentive winners. The pinnacle of bucket-list experiences will be the chance to ride in the private sub attached to the Esprit, which will hold just two people and the captain. “It will take guests for 30-minute rides hundreds of feet deep in the ocean,” Setloff adds.

Interest in chartering the ship—which will begin its journey in the Seychelles, then on to Dubai—is coming from private families as well as incentive planners. One automotive company is considering chartering it for a journey from Dubrovnik, Croatia—where it will be repositioned to travel the Adriatic—to Athens.

“That’s what’s so special about chartering,” Setloff says. “You can not only choose your own itinerary, you can create your own menus and eat at certain times, fly the corporate flag, bring your own entertainment, determine your own dress code—you name it.”

The cabin sizes on board the Esprit are more spacious than on most lines, ranging from 250 to 280 sf. For meetings, the yacht has a private room with an AV wall (AV is complimentary) and room to seat all passengers—or, of course, companies could just hold their meeting out on deck.

The magic of the Esprit will be the ports it can enter, or as Setloff explains, “harbors that are completely pristine, where only the yachting set goes.”

As with all Crystal products, the Esprit is all-inclusive (other than the submarine ride), with tours, tips—basically everything—as part of the price. A bonus for corporate guests will be one free hour of WiFi per guest per day—unheard of for a cruise ship. Setloff says he doesn’t know of any other line where it’s complimentary.

Authentic land experiences

Though the shore excursions have yet to be announced, the cruise line’s goal with its new smaller vessels is to allow more time in each port for guests to immerse themselves in the local scene, says spokesperson Molly Morgan. “A lot of ships dock and you need to be back by a certain time. We are trying to give people more nightlife experiences, and allow them to have dinner and enjoy their time on land.”

This will also apply to the two new riverboats being built by scratch and expected to launch in 2017. Each ship will feature 70 cabins with 250-sf suites, and accommodate 140 passengers.

Morgan sees a growing demand for river cruising among the younger demographic. “Our guests have been asking for this for a while. It’s a slower pace and a little different because the ships travel more slowly. It’s a more relaxed environment, and that’s what they are looking for.”

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Barbara Scofidio
Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.

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