– Avalon Myanmar – Myanmar River Cruise – April 2017
*Azamara Club Cruises – Azamara Journey – Singapore to Dubai (April 8, 2018)
* Azamara Quest – Southeast Asia and Japan (February 2015)
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? – Part I
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? Part II
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? Part III
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? Part IV
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? – Some Final Observations and Thoughts
– The Prologue to the Travelogue
– The Adventure Begins…With a Bump or Two
– Settling In Made Easy
– Luxury Touches Here, There and OK, Not, Everywhere…But There Are Lots of Them!
– Asian Flair Onboard and On Shore
– Private Tours, Israel and Conflicts in Perceptions and Perspective
Celebrity Equinox 2009 – Egypt…Impressive and Depressing
– Dining With the Captain and the Reidel Wine Seminar
– The Last Dinner (Tuscan Grille) and Disembarkation
– What Happens When A Class Act Meets Highly Discounted Cruise Fare
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part I
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part II
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part III
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part IV (Food & Wine!)
– Princess Cruises Doesn’t Treat You Like Royalty; Celebrity Cruises Does! Which is a Better Value for the Upscale Cruise Guest? Part I
– Celebrity Silhouette vs. -Royal Princess – Which Is A Better Value For The Upscale Cruise Guest? Part II: The Standard Veranda Staterooms
– Celebrity Silhouette vs. Royal Princess – Which Is A Better Value For The Upscale Cruise Guest? Part III: Treating You Right From The Start
– Celebrity Silhouette vs. Royal Princess – Which Is A Better Value For The Upscale Cruise Guest? Part IV: The Wine Lists Speak Volumes (As Do The Beverage Packages)
Regent Seven Seas Voyager – August 2017
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part I
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part II (Getting There, The Stateroom and First Impressions)
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part III (“You Can’t Teach Five Star Service” and Bonafacio, Corsica)
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part IV (Calvi, Monaco, Portofino, Porto Azzurro…and Stale Bread)
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part V (My Last Day…and How The Chef’s Team Makes It Happen)
I know I am an optimistic skeptic, but it is with good reason. The New Crystal Cruises is a shiny example of why.
Crystal loyalists have been, to my mind, overly enthusiastic about the line’s sort of rebirth. And I have been concerned not only about the condition of the ship – for when finances get tight, the first thing to be deferred is maintenance – but the condition of its client base, for it is not like there aren’t newer ships and more options out there since Crystal’s failure a few years ago.
Well, Crystal Symphony just set sail, and Cruise Industry News just published an article that confirms that most of my concerns have come to be. It is not that things are going to be below expectations forever, but right now…as I have cautioned…one must give Crystal at least six months in operation before passing judgment.
A&K CEO Cristina Levis said it perfectly:
I know we’re not yet perfect, although we aim for perfection. In 12 months, in 16 months, you cannot achieve perfection. But I can guarantee you the team has been working around the clock. And when I say around the clock I mean around the clock.
According to the article, while there was a significant reduction in guest accommodations from 960 to 606 – with many more larger suites installed – and total renovation of the Italian restaurant, there were very expensive surprises, such as the main engines needing to be replaced (a $50 Million expense that I can’t understand how it was a surprise – knowing the newer environmental constraints, as Windstar experienced) and overall below deck maintenance was seriously suffering.
With so much going on below decks, the telephone and TV systems are still a work in progress, and who knows what else, I – again – strongly suggest waiting six months to see how things shake out.
Yes, I remain skeptical (I said it again) about old hardware that is updated, but not unique in any way, and a client base that leans heavily on the 70+ demographic supporting Crystal into the future. I am also concerned about the management and ownership, for I have seen what A&K co-owner Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio did with the finances at Silversea when he owned it (and how much the product improved when he sold it).
But, too, I am optimistic that somehow this new Crystal Cruises will be successful and provide a viable alternative in the premium to luxury cruise market.
Only time will tell.