Q – We are really excited about the changes at Crystal Cruises you describe. Our interest at the moment is centered around the new Crystal Yacht division and the Esprit. We want to know how to book the yacht and when the books will officially open? We are also wondering if you feel it is a good idea to do one of the first sailings. We are tending to want to wait until next summer. Are itineraries set? How big will the ship be and will she handle rough water well?
A – When Genting Hong Kong announced its purchase of Crystal and its ambitious new building program, the yacht was being completed in the yard. So Crystal got a 31-cabin luxury product it really wasn’t expecting. The Esprit is now open for reservations through the summer of 2016. It will set out on sailings in the Seychelles from December 23rd 2015 through April 17th of next year. A land program in Dubai and Abu Dhabi will be combined with the seven-day sailings. Then, the boat will move to Europe where she will be doing seven-day sailings between Venice and Dubrovnik that are unusual in that they are going to spend the entire week visiting smaller ports along the Croatian coast. We love this new option to spend the entire week exploring ports that, for the most part, are still unspoiled and undiscovered by the tourist hordes.
You can book with any travel consultant but choose one who specializes in smaller luxury ships. We think that there are bound to be some initial glitches – there always are. But Crystal has always been the benchmark cruise brand when it comes to on-board services and we would expect that any problems would be solved within moments of being reported. We would endorse your plan to sail the boat next summer.
The boat is relatively small but extremely large given that only 62 guests will be aboard when boat is full. Yes, you will feel the sea, so, perhaps, you will want to think carefully about re-positioning cruises. But the Seychelles and the Dalmatian coast are safe, calm cruising grounds. We would certainly say you can book either of those itineraries without concern.
Early indications are that this may be the hottest, most difficult to obtain, cruise ticket in town. Take our suggestion to book early seriously.