Crystal Cruises Celebrates 30 Years

By Staff Writer

Crystal Cruises has announced a series of commemorative gifts, on-board special events and value offers to take place in 2020 in celebration of its 30th anniversary. The distinguished cruise line first launched on 24th July 1990 when debut vessel Crystal Harmony sailed from San Francisco on a 12-day inaugural voyage to Alaska.

“We are immensely proud of Crystal’s legacy of offering luxury travellers the very best experiences in the world for 30 years, and are grateful to the world travellers who have journeyed with us and the travel advisors who have been integral to our success along the way,” said Crystal’s president and CEO, Tom Wolber. “While many of our guests have been on this journey with Crystal since the beginning, the Crystal Family continues to grow with each new voyage. It’s our pleasure to celebrate this milestone with travellers in a meaningful way – with great value and the opportunity to experience all the diverse travel experiences Crystal now offers.”

The special 30th anniversary savings include a designated 30 sailings spanning four brand experiences – Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal Expedition Cruises. Crystal Society members will receive double their regular savings, now totalling five percent, while new-to-Crystal guests will enjoy two percent savings on the select voyages. These savings are in addition to Crystal’s Book Now Savings, which rewards travellers who book early. To take advantage of these special offers, bookings for the “30th Anniversary Collection” must be made by 30th June, 2019.

The anniversary collection features sailings around the globe, ranging from seven to 16 nights throughout 2020, including:

Crystal Cruises, 20 voyages: Mexican Riviera, Asia, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, New England & Canada, Middle East & India, and the Caribbean;

Crystal River Cruises, 5 voyages: Rhine and Danube rivers;

Crystal Yacht Cruises, 4 voyages: Seychelles, Adriatic, Mediterranean and Arabian Peninsula;

Crystal Expedition Cruises, 1 voyage: South Pacific.

All guests booked on the selected sailings will enjoy special events celebrating this milestone and receive gifts including Crystal’s 30th Anniversary Cookbook showcasing specialties from Crystal’s globally-inspired menus; a commemorative 30th Anniversary pin; a wine stopper and personalised luggage tags as part of the festivities.

 

www.crystalcruises.com

Crystal Expedition Cruises Releases 2021 Voyages

Crystal Expedition Cruises
Crystal Expedition Cruises

Complete with itinerary information and voyage highlights, Crystal Expedition has revealed the full 2021 roster for its premiere yacht, the Crystal Endeavour. The 25 voyages range from ten to 28 nights, with explorations internationally throughout Antarctica, Japan, the Russian Far East, Alaska, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Norway, the United Kingdom, Western Europe, South America, among others. Some of the trips will also be venturing through the Northeast Passage, where only select vessels are granted permission to travel.

“Crystal Endeavour is made for this kind of exploration and is capable of taking travellers farther than they imagined, while they enjoy Crystal’s signature luxuries and service that welcome them ‘home,’” said Karen Christensen, Crystal Expedition’s senior vice president and managing director for Australasia.

Every voyage on the ship will have a focus on the biodiversity, active adventure and natural and cultural history of its destinations, with expert expedition guides onboard to assist. The roster allows travellers to choose from more extreme and rarely-visited places, such as New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic islands, Christmas Island and the Aleutian Islands west of Alaska, as well as more popular Khlong Toei in Bangkok, downtown Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Edinburgh’s port of Leith, Scotland.

Dozens of UNESCO World Heritage sites will be stopped at across the 25 different trips, including Japan’s Shiretoko National Park, Vietnam’s Imperial City of Hue, New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park and Australia’s Turquoise Bay and Ningaloo Reef. Many passengers will also have the opportunity to observe wildlife when visiting locations such as the Aleutian Isles, Tasmania, Indonesia, the Northeast Passage and the Antarctic Peninsula.

The 200-guest Crystal Endeavour boasts public spaces, butler-serviced guest rooms, a full-service Crystal Life Salon and Spa, a state-of-the-art fitness centre and expedition-specific offerings, such as mud rooms and a helicopter lounge. Onboard dining includes Michelin-inspired dining options like Umi Uma & Sushi Bar, one of Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s few sea-going restaurants; Prego, which will serve Northern Italian-Mediterranean fusion cuisine; and Waterside, the yacht’s international main dining venue.

The complete roster of Crystal Endeavour’s 2021 itineraries and voyage highlights can be viewed here.

crystalexpeditioncruises.com

Crystal River Cruises Announces Full 2021 Deployment

By Staff Writer

Luxury cruise line Crystal River Cruises has announced the complete deployment for its award-winning fleet in 2021, becoming the first river company to open its reservations nearly three years in advance.

The line’s five luxury river ships – Crystal Mozart and the four identical sister ships Crystal Bach, Crystal Debussy, Crystal Mahler, and Crystal Ravel – will sail the Danube, Rhine, Main and Moselle rivers on itineraries of seven to 16 days in 2021, with 45 unique ports of call, dozens of which are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Every voyage also features at least one overnight stay, many with double and even triple overnights, allowing guests to further immerse themselves in the ports’ charm and history, or venture to nearby towns for broader experiences.

“We have seen such great demand and increasing desire by luxury travellers to secure their ideal European journeys earlier than ever and we are pleased to make our complete offerings for 2019, 2020 and now 2021 available for booking,” said Karen Christensen, Crystal’s senior vice president and managing director for Australasia.

The Book Now Savings on offer – up to $2000 off – also give more incentive to book early, guaranteeing the best fares for guests who plan ahead.

“In 2021, more than 180 Crystal River Cruises’ departures invite the most discerning travellers to experience the nuances of true luxury on Europe’s rivers. UNESCO-recognised Old Towns in Bamberg and Brugge, epicenters of art and music in Vienna and Salzburg and dramatic landscapes like the Wachau Valley and Middle Rhine Valley add historic and natural flavour to itineraries that also feature contemporary hubs like Düsseldorf and Basel,” Christensen added.

The “Eastern Danube Discoveries” voyage will debut on Crystal Mozart offering deeper exploration of Hungary as well as Serbia and Croatia. Other itineraries highlight the seasonal delights of riverside destinations, like springtime “Tulips & Windmills” sailings that explore the flower-laden fields of the Netherlands and Belgium; and winter sailings that focus on the dazzling spectacles of the region’s famed Christmas markets. Crystal will also sail the river less travelled, with “Enchanting Moselle” voyages through the scenic Mosel Valley.

Seemingly timeless medieval towns mix beautifully on Crystal River Cruises with modern hubs of culture and commerce. Guests can explore Germany’s oldest town of Trier, Beethoven’s birthplace in Bonn, the famed windmills of Amsterdam, Dusseldorf’s vibrant art and culinary scene and the stunning musical heritage of Vienna.

On every voyage, the Crystal River Collection of more than 200 inclusive, curated experiences ashore will enhance the journey for guests with an abundance of options that cater to varied interests. Complementary Signature Events, optional more elaborate excursions and exclusive dining experiences are also on offer.

Crystal’s new-build river vessels are all-suite, all-butler ships, with every category of accommodation positioned above the water line.  All suites feature Panoramic Balcony-Windows and walk-in closets and dual vanity in the bathrooms are featured in most categories. Sister-ship Crystal Mozart is Europe’s most spacious river ship, at twice the width of any other, and offers an unrivalled number of social spaces, restaurants and the largest spa on the rivers.

All of Crystal’s river ships feature private butler service in every room category, king-sized beds, ETRO amenities, robes and slippers, and wall-mounted flat-screen HD TVs. Additional enticing features include farm-to-table cuisine in multiple, open-seating eateries: the elegant Waterside Restaurant, namesake Bistro cafés and the exclusive Vintage Room; and the Palm Court for entertainment, enrichment presentations and sweeping views of the countryside. Crystal’s attention to detail reaches ashore, as guests are transported on the days’ adventures in luxury motor coaches equipped with complimentary water and Wi-Fi for added convenience and comfort.

 

The Details

Fares for Crystal River Cruises’ 2021 voyages start at US$2,574 per person. Book Now Savings are up to US$2,000 per suite on select voyages when booked by November 30, 2018. Crystal also recently unveiled the complete deployment for 2020, which features new itineraries and special programming, including the decennial Oberammergau Passion Play.

 

For Crystal’s full 2021 deployment, visit crystalcruises.com

Crystal Cruises Australia Announces Partnership with Qantas Frequent Flyer

By Staff Writer

Crystal Cruises Australia has announced a multi-year partnership with Qantas Frequent Flyer to offer members the opportunity to earn Qantas Points on all 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 Crystal Experiences – by ocean, river, and yacht expedition.

Crystal’s recent period of rapid growth has seen the company expand from what was a two-ocean-ship cruise line, to include some of the world’s most awarded luxury travel experiences including Crystal River Cruises in Europe and Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises to idyllic island playgrounds and remote destinations around the world.

The partnership will offer up to three Qantas Points per US$1 on all Crystal Experiences including Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises itineraries.

“Offering Qantas Points is a great way to reward our Crystal Society members for choosing to book with us,” said Crystal’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director for Australasia, Karen Christensen. “Crystal has long been celebrated as the leader in luxury cruising, and this new partnership is a wonderful opportunity for Qantas customers to discover the hallmarks of the acclaimed Crystal Experience.”

Qantas Loyalty Executive Manager Commercial, David Young, said: “Qantas Frequent Flyer members love to travel and the partnership with Crystal provides them with another way for them to make their whole trip more rewarding by earning points on their cruise booking as well as their flights.”

The partnership between the two companies was made last night at an intimate media dinner at the Sydney Opera House to celebrate the unveiling of Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises’ newest expedition vessel, Crystal Endeavour’s inaugural season of itineraries.

Beginning in Tokyo on August 10 2020 with a 17-day Russian Far East Maiden Expedition, the luxury expedition yacht will sail voyages of 12 to 22 days through January 2021 to some of the world’s most far-reaching regions. Voyages will explore the cultural and bio-diversity of Japan and the Russian Far East, New Zealand, Australia and Antarctica, with tropical wildlands also featured.

Crystal’s Qantas Points Offer

Qantas Frequent Flyer members can earn:

  • 3 Qantas Points per US$1 spent on all bookings made on any 2018 Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises itineraries from 1 September 2018
  • Double Points for all 2019, 2020 and 2021 Crystal Experiences
  • 2 Qantas Points per US$1 spent on all bookings made on any 2019, 2020 and 2021 Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises itineraries between 1 September 2018 and 31 March, 2019

Crystal’s Qantas Points promotion is applicable to all guests who book with an Australian or New Zealand based travel professional or with Crystal’s Australian reservations office.

 

For more information and Crystal reservations, contact Crystal’s Sydney office on 1300 059 260 or visit crystalcruises.com.

Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises Unveils Itineraries for Crystal Endeavor

By Staff Writer

Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises has announced the inaugural season of itineraries for its newest globetrotting vessel, Crystal Endeavor, spanning from August 2020 to January 2021.

Offering an in-depth focus on some of the world’s most far-reaching and fascinating regions, the luxury expedition yacht will sail voyages of 12 to 22 days, far off the beaten path of traditional cruise routes.

Voyages will explore the cultural and bio-diversity of Japan and the Russian Far East, New Zealand, Australia and Antarctica, with vast wildernesses and tropical wildlands also featured.

“Every facet of Crystal Endeavor is meant to take travellers beyond their previous travel boundaries and expectations,” says Crystal President and CEO Tom Wolber.

“Her exceptional design, luxury accommodations and amenities have already set the stage for this, and now, as we unveil her first six months of journeys, travellers have a tremendous glimpse of the grand discoveries in store for this groundbreaking yacht,” he adds.

“Crystal Endeavor will take guests to remote destinations not typically accessible on a cruise, as well as some iconic places, albeit with a decidedly adventurous twist.”

The locales visited will offer distinctive experiences, climate and terrain that are suited perfectly for the boldest travellers, with opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, snorkelling, diving, helicopter and Zodiac tours, encounters with majestic wildlife, and much more depending on the region.

“With Crystal Endeavor, we can now offer discerning travellers a truly luxurious expedition experience – the Crystal Experience, which, coupled with the ship’s innovative design and captivating itineraries, will be a highly sought-after travel choice,” said Crystal’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, Karen Christensen.

“The inaugural season is one that combines active discovery and cultural immersion, and I fully expect that the luxury traveller, in our Australasian market especially, will be as thrilled with the inaugural destinations as I am.”

In addition to Antarctic exploration, Crystal Endeavor will follow seasonal shifts to warmer destinations, where sun-seeking guests can enjoy waterborne and nature quests.

Crystal Endeavor’s initial roster of itineraries includes 12 unique voyages with fares starting from US$13,349 per guest (based on double occupancy, including port taxes and fees).

Guests on the maiden voyage will also receive a complimentary one-night pre-cruise luxury hotel stay and have the opportunity to participate in the yacht’s naming event.

The release of Crystal Endeavour’s inaugural season coincides with Crystal Cruises Australia’s announcement it has formed a partnership with Qantas Frequent Flyer, offering up to three Qantas Points per US$1 on all Crystal Experiences including Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises itineraries.

For more information and Crystal reservations, contact Crystal’s Sydney office on 1300 059 260 or visit crystalcruises.com.

Seven of the Best Luxury River Cruises

By David McGonigal

The idea of taking a cruise without worrying about getting seasick has a lot of appeal, but that’s only one reason why river cruising is booming. There’s also the joy of travelling from city to city without changing rooms, of the never-ending scenery running past your window or balcony, of being part of life on the river. As river cruising has boomed there’s been rapid proliferation in cruise vessels. But while ocean-going ships are becoming bigger and bigger, the constraints of rivers and bridges restrict the size of river vessels. Since every company faces the same restrictions, the difference between one company and another may be less pronounced than at sea.

One benefit is that there are no inside cabins so everyone has a view but a disadvantage is that the wider the outside balcony the narrower the cabin. This has necessitated considerable ingenuity in design to make the most of the space available. Some companies have gone for larger rooms and fewer guests, others have created distinct personalities for each vessel and others offer features and facilities beyond your bedroom. That’s not to say that river vessels offer small cabins or suites: it’s a very competitive market and, on average, the typical river cabin may be the same size – or larger – than a ship’s cabin. However, it’s impossible to match an expansive suite on the most luxurious seagoing vessel – Regent Seven Seas Explorer’s Regent Suite is 413 square metres – on board a river vessel that has to squeeze into a lock.

Then there’s height. River vessels must fit under bridges – some of which may have been built centuries ago – so there’s more creativity required to ensure the furniture and canopies on the top deck can fold flat to make the most of every centimetre. Europe is perfectly suited to river cruising – many cities began as river ports – and is definitely the area with the greatest concentration of river-cruise vessels. But there are river cruises on five other continents from South America’s upper Amazon, North America’s Mississippi and Columbia rivers, the Nile, Chobe and Zambezi in Africa, Australia’s Murray and several rivers across Asia.

APT

In the Berlitz ‘River Cruising in Europe’ guide, all of the Top 10 vessels of the 310 ranked represented APT or its partner AmaWaterways. The company’s vessels have always been clever in design and its Concerto class features suites that consist of a French balcony and a separate outside balcony. APT operates vessels in the European fleet and also operates river cruises in the USA, Africa, South America and across Asia.

Food is a high priority and APT has recreated its Chef’s Table Restaurant as a true tasting-menu experience. The company has also partnered with action travel company Backroads to offer hiking and cycling excursions.
aptouring.com.au

 

Avalon Waterways

In its panoramic suites, Avalon has turned the beds to face the window – a glass wall that opens to a French balcony – so you really do feel as if you’re floating on the river. In 2017 Avalon Fresh was introduced with an emphasis on local ingredients from small producers.

Avalon offers cruises across Asia and on the Amazon, and a range of themed cruises in Europe. The Avalon Luminary runs a nine-day Active Discovery voyage on the upper Danube that includes cycling, guided hikes, canoeing and more.
avalonwaterways.com.au

 

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises has also moved into river cruising. The Crystal Mozart is a completely refurbished vessel that now carries 52 fewer passengers than in its previous iteration. Recently, four more vessels have been added on the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers. All carry just 106 passengers so there’s space for walk-in wardrobes and river-view beds.

In one of the onboard restaurants there will be a dedicated space for daily cooking classes and, as well as hiking and biking, Crystal offers more adventurous activities like sightseeing via helicopter.

Scenic

Scenic’s river cruise ships operate across Asia and in Europe as far as Russia. Two of its vessels based in France have been redesigned to better satisfy cruisers’ luxury needs. The number of cabins on both the Scenic Diamond and Scenic Sapphire has been reduced to create two large Royal Owner’s Suites, a vitality pool and an expanded wellness centre. There are up to six dining options from casual to formal degustation.

Both vessels provide onboard cooking classes in a dedicated space featuring cooking stations and a cheese and wine cellar. While the redesigns are starting in France, the development may extend throughout the fleet.
scenic.com.au

 

Tauck

From just four European river vessels in 2014, Tauck now has nine. They operate on the Rhine, Rhone, Seine and Danube. The MS Joy offers a range of suites including some loft cabins that extend over two decks. Tauck prides itself on offering special cultural experiences and that’s true for its cruises, too, from a private tour of the Baroque libraries of Prague to an imperial evening in Vienna. As well as some themed cruises, Tauck offers a range of family cruises perfect for multi-generational holidays.

tauck.com.au

 

Uniworld

In the Uniworld fleet, there are 21 vessels and they operate in Europe and Asia. The company has teamed up with Butterfield & Robinson to offer some great outdoor excursions from biking along the Danube to kayaking in France. Uniworld doesn’t have standardised décor for its vessels, viewing them rather as floating boutique hotels.
uniworld.com

 

Viking

Viking reassessed the way it used space when it created its Viking Longships in 2012; vessels that, as the name suggests, utilise Scandinavian décor. More public space was found by removing the under-utilised gym and massage room. Now 46 of the 65 vessels in the fleet are Longships.  Viking operates throughout Europe and Asia. Each voyage offers an in-depth cultural enrichment program to bring the destination to life through music, history, art and food. It has expanded its food and wine program with Taste Of events that extend from food-based excursions to cooking classes and on-board demonstrations.

vikingrivercruises.com.au

Asian Offerings

There are some river cruise companies that operate solely in Asia and these are worth seeking out. This is particularly true for the increasingly crowded Irrawaddy and other rivers of Myanmar.
Pandaw is a partial recreation of what was once the largest shipping line in the world, the Irrawaddy Steamship Company (ISC). ISC vessels were scuttled to stop them being used by Japanese troops during World War II. One – The Pandaw – survived and was the model for the new fleet. The quest for authenticity ensures these vessels don’t have every modern amenity but the level of service is first class. The fleet has now diversified to other rivers across Asia.

The Strand is a legendary and recently renovated colonial hotel of Yangon, Myanmar. The hotel has now expanded into river cruising with a vessel of the same name that offers a similar level of luxury on the Irrawaddy. The Strand joins Belmond Road to Mandalay, the long-running luxurious sister vessel to the world’s most exotic rail journeys, including the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Sanctuary Retreats operates the only all-balcony vessel on the Irrawaddy: the Sanctuary Ananda.

Crystal Cruises Introduces Combinable Itineraries

Crystal Cruises

The new Grand Journeys itineraries have been created to cater to the growing number of Crystal guests who tend to combine voyages and extend their cruise experience

Crystal Cruises is offering decidedly more choice than ever for luxury travellers as the company unveils dozens of new itineraries for 2020 aboard its award-winning ocean ships, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. The collection of Grand Journeys itineraries is made up of expanded sailings that combine existing 2020 itineraries, allowing guests to curate adventures ranging from 14 to 57 days.

With multiple overnights offered on every extended voyage and nearly no repeating ports, guests can enjoy unique opportunities to explore multiple facets of the destinations they visit and the opportunity to further immerse themselves in the traditions and cultures of each one. Spanning the globe, these voyages cruise both iconic and remote destinations, from the Holy Land and Western and Northern Europe to Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.

Several Grand Journeys sailings even allow guests to explore multiple parts of the world over the course of one luxury holiday, including a 31-day sojourn that encompasses ports in Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and the Italian coast; a 49-day quest through the Greek Isles, Israel and the Middle East; and a 57-day route from the British Isles to the Amalfi Coast.

Other extended sailings offer enhanced, comprehensive travel through a singular region, allowing for in-depth exploration, as with a 25-day journey through Scandinavia during the Summer Solstice; an intensive 28-day voyage through the most legendary locales in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Ionian seas; and a 30-day Far East holiday celebration through Southeast Asia, China and Singapore.

“The Grand Journeys speak directly to the desires of luxury travellers who seek beyond the parameters of a traditional cruise itinerary, as many of our Australian and New Zealand guests crave longer holidays abroad and deeper exploration of new places,” said  Karen Christensen, Crystal’s senior vice president and managing director, Australia & New Zealand. “Often, guests choose to combine voyages to extend their Crystal Experience. With this new collection, we have done the work for them by curating complementary itineraries that best showcase the world’s most fascinating locales.”

The Grand Journeys expanded sailings are now available to book, offering a 5% savings for the combined itineraries and enhancing the all-inclusive luxury of the Crystal Experience.

 

www.crystalcruises.com

Crystal Announces Jazz and Cabaret-Themed Cruise

Crystal Cruises
Crystal Symphony

The jazz and cabaret-themed cruise will be aboard the Crystal Symphony, setting sail to New Orleans

Departing Fort Lauderdale on 2nd December 2018 and arriving in New Orleans on 15th December, Crystal Symphony’s Experiences of Discovery Jazz Days & Cabaret Nights Theme Cruise is an experience for lovers of music and dance, with enriching lectures into the world of jazz and live musical performances by some of the genre’s best artists.

Setting sail just before Christmas, Crystal Symphony will offer optional adventures ashore including diving the world’s third largest barrier reef, a hike through the gorgeous Dunn’s River Falls and snorkelling with stingrays. Then on arriving at the final destination, guests can wind down listening to legendary blues and jazz in New Orleans.

The Crystal Cruises Exclusive Fare includes all beverages including fine wines, champagne, premium spirits and all non-alcoholic beverages such as bottled water, soft drinks and specialty coffees; gratuities for housekeeping, dining and bar staff; complimentary evening of specialty restaurant dining in Prego and at least once in Silk Road or The Sushi Bar (additional reservations or visits available for a modest fee.); 24-hour room service; complimentary Wi-Fi/Internet access; attentive Butler service in all Penthouse categories; enrichment workshop series featuring lectures by renowned authors, ambassadors, celebrities and destination experts; fitness programs including yoga, golf instruction and mat Pilates; and much more.

Book by 30 June and choose Crystal Clear Choices savings of either US$400 off the cruise fare or US$600 Shipboard Credit per person. Fares are available from US$5,428 per person.

crystalcruises.com

Crystal Unveils Guest Suite Design on Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Endeavor – Crystal Penthouse Suite Living Room
Crystal Endeavor – Crystal Penthouse Suite Living Room

Crystal has unveiled the latest design details for its upcoming luxury expedition yacht, Crystal Endeavor for Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises

Crystal has unveiled the latest design details for its upcoming luxury expedition yacht, Crystal Endeavor for Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises. 

At 19,800 GRT, Crystal Endeavor will be the largest, most spacious purpose-built polar class expedition yacht in the world, accommodating just 200 guests and boasting all the luxurious amenities and special touches for which Crystal is known. The yacht will feature generous public spaces, a full-service spa and salon, six restaurants including Nobu Matsuhisa’s Umi Uma, expedition rooms and elegant suites that contrast beautifully with the rugged adventures beyond the vessel.

Crystal Endeavor’s accommodations could be industry game-changers, as the largest, most spacious suites in expedition cruising, featuring private verandahs and butler service for every suite. Luxury touches include king-sized beds, walk-in closets, heated storage for drying parkas, spa-like bathrooms with adjustable heated floors, dual vanities, anti-fog mirrors and rain-showerheads.

The stylish design is matched by state-of-the-art technological amenities that will enhance the experience with fine details, like ambient lighting, interactive streaming TVs and bedside iPads in every suite that offer voyage information and numerous international daily newspapers.

The 100 suites will include two Crystal Penthouse Suites (985 sq. ft. to 1,130 sq. ft.), eight Penthouse Suites (457 sq. ft.) and 90 Deluxe Suites (304 sq. ft.). The larger of the two Crystal Penthouse Suites features a two-bedroom layout, while the other one-bedroom plan connects to an adjacent Deluxe Suite through an adjoining entry, ideal for families and friends travelling together. Both offer dedicated dining areas and butler’s prep space for in-suite dining from any of Crystal Endeavor’s Michelin-inspired eateries. The Penthouse Suites and Deluxe Suites offer separated sleeping and sitting areas, private verandahs and desk vanity areas.

Crystal marked the steel cutting milestone for the 100-suite Crystal Endeavor in January this year, and shared initial design plans for the yacht’s public spaces in March. She is set to debut in 2020.

Crystal has unveiled the latest design details for its upcoming luxury expedition yacht, Crystal Endeavor for Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises. 

At 19,800 GRT, Crystal Endeavor will be the largest, most spacious purpose-built polar class expedition yacht in the world, accommodating just 200 guests and boasting all the luxurious amenities and special touches for which Crystal is known. The yacht will feature generous public spaces, a full-service spa and salon, six restaurants including Nobu Matsuhisa’s Umi Uma, expedition rooms and elegant suites that contrast beautifully with the rugged adventures beyond the vessel.

Crystal Endeavor’s accommodations could be industry game-changers, as the largest, most spacious suites in expedition cruising, featuring private verandahs and butler service for every suite. Luxury touches include king-sized beds, walk-in closets, heated storage for drying parkas, spa-like bathrooms with adjustable heated floors, dual vanities, anti-fog mirrors and rain-showerheads.

The stylish design is matched by state-of-the-art technological amenities that will enhance the experience with fine details, like ambient lighting, interactive streaming TVs and bedside iPads in every suite that offer voyage information and numerous international daily newspapers.

The 100 suites will include two Crystal Penthouse Suites (985 sq. ft. to 1,130 sq. ft.), eight Penthouse Suites (457 sq. ft.) and 90 Deluxe Suites (304 sq. ft.). The larger of the two Crystal Penthouse Suites features a two-bedroom layout, while the other one-bedroom plan connects to an adjacent Deluxe Suite through an adjoining entry, ideal for families and friends travelling together. Both offer dedicated dining areas and butler’s prep space for in-suite dining from any of Crystal Endeavor’s Michelin-inspired eateries. The Penthouse Suites and Deluxe Suites offer separated sleeping and sitting areas, private verandahs and desk vanity areas.

Crystal marked the steel cutting milestone for the 100-suite Crystal Endeavor in January this year, and shared initial design plans for the yacht’s public spaces in March. She is set to debut in 2020.

A Cut Above: The Difference Between Premium and Luxury Cruises

Back in the old days sorting out the differences in cruising was easy. Either your servant carried your steamer trunks to your suite or you were shovelling coal into the boiler of the African Queen with Humphrey Bogart.

Today, the introduction of experiential cruises means you can spend about $30,000 per person for a two-week cruise to the North Pole on a Russian nuclear icebreaker that is comfortable but not luxurious. That amount would buy you absolute luxury in lower latitudes.

To understand top-end cruising, we need to distinguish between mainstream, premium and luxury ocean cruises – and premium areas aboard mainstream cruise ships. 

In mainstream cruising, bigger ships have become destinations in their own right. They are great for family holidays and the fares can be very reasonable but expect to pay for anything that can be classified as an extra. It’s well-run, assembly-line cruising and the food is mass produced unless you pay extra to dine at the onboard signature restaurants. Think fun rather than sophisticated.

Premium cruise lines can be a significant step up from mainstream. They cater for more mature travellers but still welcome families. The atmosphere is more refined with additional space although the ships still tend to be mid-sized to large. Cabins may not be much larger, but are better equipped – and there are still likely to be inside cabins with no view available for a cheaper fare. The food will be better but you’ll still be paying for drinks. There are likely to be more quiet zones or adult-only areas.

A recent development in cruising is, in fact, a step back to a shipboard class system. It was only in the 1970s that one-class cruising was introduced. Now you may be offered a premium-class section on a mainstream vessel, effectively a ship within a ship. Your keycard unlocks the chance to escape the crowds and queues, find some peace and quiet, and dine in a private restaurant. 

Luxury cruise lines are the five-star boutique resorts of the sea. None are larger than mid-sized and some may carry only 100 guests. The passenger-to-crew ratio ensures attentive service. Even lower category cabins will be spacious with designer toiletries and you can expect drinks and many services to be included in your fare. The food will likely match the best resorts. Expect a sense of space and a lack of crowds, even when embarking and disembarking. While there may be entertainment on board you’ll also find experts on the places you’ll be visiting.

Here’s a sample of the luxury cruise lines and their vessels that visit Australia.

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises operates Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity – both around 1000 passengers – plus the new 62-passenger Crystal Esprit yacht and five river vessels in Europe. Crystal is regularly voted the best cruise line in the world and it’s easy to see why. There’s lots of space, the service is excellent and the food superb, especially in Nobu’s Silk Road Restaurant. The two aforementioned ships will be in Australia over the next two summers. crystalcruises.com

Ponant

Ponant operates four ships carrying up to 226 passengers each (L’Austral, Le Boreal, Le Lyrial, Le Soleal) and the 32-stateroom sailing vessel, Le Ponant. Ponant recently announced plans to add four new ships over the next few years. Fine dining, stylish decor and French sophistication match the exotic and adventurous destinations Ponant visits. The French line has a strong Australian presence. L’Austral will be visiting Australia this summer and next. au.ponant.com

Regent Seven Seas

Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC) has the 700-passenger Seven Seas Explorer, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager as well as the 490-passenger Seven Seas Navigator. The service and cuisine are wonderful and there’s an atmosphere of relaxed luxury on board. RSSC boasts an impressive array of inclusions within the cost of the voyage: free WiFi, unlimited shore excursions, fine wines and premium spirits, and gratuities. Voyager and Navigator are regular visitors to Australia. rssc.com 

Seabourn

Seabourn Cruise Line has phased out its original vessels and brought three newer, larger ships online with another to come. The fleet now includes the Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest as well as Encore, which arrived early this year and headed straight for Australia. Seabourn is a leader in refined luxury cruising and offers some very creative itineraries. Its ships carry between 450 and 600 passengers. seabourn.com

Seadream Yacht Club

Seadream Yacht Club operates twin mega-yachts, SeaDream I and II. Each carry just 112 passengers and are served by a crew of 95. This really is luxury small-ship cruising as the ships are small enough to go places larger ships can’t and the crew have time to make you feel special. seadream.com

Silversea

Silversea Cruises has an enviable reputation for its luxurious ships and a very high standard of service on board. The cruise fleet of five vessels (Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit) will be joined by Silver Muse in 2017. All suites and butler service ensure luxury without excessive formality. silversea.com