Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Crystal Cruises Bookends Sailings With More Overnights

Some of the things that concern us on every cruise embarkation day include the worry of late flight arrivals, lost luggage, relocating to/from pre-cruise hotels, finding quality restaurants, and settling in prior to sight-seeing. As Crystal Cruises prepares to segue to "All-Inclusive" starting next month, the luxury line has also been transforming in another big way: to a focus on significantly more local shipboard overnights at the beginning of cruises. For the upcoming European season, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony have doubled the number of voyages that begin with days (and nights) in port. While eliminating the concerns outlined above, the move also enhances recreational choices due to the more extensive options available on board Crystal's ships than can be found at most hotels on land.

"By adding more overnights to the cruises, especially at embarkation, travelers only have to unpack once, yet get even more time to experience a culture, while still having their Crystal home as a luxurious base," explains President Gregg Michel. "They also begin meeting the people who will be sharing their time aboard—the staff and other travelers who will become their Crystal family by vacation's end—all the sooner."

Crystal has also added overnights to the middle and/or end of the majority of cruises this year. We've always hating missing the sights in disembarkation ports unless we plan to spend some time in a hotel after our cruise and overnights in such ports as Venice, Barcelona, or Istanbul, will allow Crystal guests to see significantly more of their final destination without having to move to a hotel or rush to the airport to fly home. Twenty-six large cultural capitals and smaller locales renowned for their charm are featured in North America, the Pacific, and Europe from March through December, with an impressive 69 overnights planned in Europe alone. A sampling includes:

— MEDITERRANEAN, including the BLACK SEA and MIDDLE EAST (43 overnights/10 ports): Venice, Ashdod, Istanbul, Odessa, Barcelona, Lisbon, and Monte Carlo
— BALTIC and NORTHERN EUROPE: (21 overnights/4 ports): Stockholm, Copenhagen, and St. Petersburg, with five cruises featuring two nights ("double overnight") in the latter
— WESTERN EUROPE and UK (5 overnights/4 ports): Edinburgh, Bordeaux, and Reykjavik
— NORTH AMERICA: (9 overnights/4 ports): NY, Quebec City, San Francisco, and Montreal
— SOUTH PACIFIC, AUSTRALIA, AND NEW ZEALAND: (6 overnights/4 ports): Papeete, Auckland, Melbourne, and Sydney, with a huge complimentary VIP New Year's Eve celebration during a double overnight in the latter.
Crystal's new strategic planning evolution will extend through 2013 into 2014, with more than 85% of next year's 64 itineraries offering two or more days in port, and a more than 50% increase in overnights on embarkation day.

Crystal Serenity Image Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

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