Crystal Ship New   BQ – We have sailed Crystal twice in the past, both times on the Symphony and we’re really interested in the new ships currently under construction. When will they be ready and do you have any idea as to where they will be going? Also wondering about how they will differ from the existing ships. Can you tell us if they will be sailing the Orient? We really want to do Singapore and Vietnam and we’re trying to make some decisions about sailing next year. We’re planners. I guess our real question is does your team feel that these newer Crystal ships will be better than the current fleet, which we absolutely love?

A – Crystal has a firm commitment with their yard for three new 1,000 guest ships. The current delivery date for the first vessel is late 2018. It should not take that long for the second vessel which we expect to be delivered in mid-2019.

Given that the three ships will come out with a one-to-one crew to guest ratio, we expect these ships to be a definite upgrade to the current two-ship fleet. They will each be polar-class rated which will allow them to operate virtually anywhere in the world. Staterooms will be larger than those of their competitors and each deck will have higher than normal ceilings.

Deployment schedules will not be available for a while and it may well be that the existing ships, which are well known in the Asian market, will be doing the itineraries you are awaiting. It is general practice in the cruise industry to take the smallest ships and put them in the most exotic destinations. That reduces the downside risk if a new itinerary does not sell well.

We will be carefully watching the crewing for these ships, where are they sourced and what is their training? The upper deck apartments will likely sell out quickly which actually leaves less availability on the new ships than currently exists on the Symphony and Serenity.

Our opinion is that this is a game-changer in the luxury market. The question is how many potential Crystal guests will think that 1,000 passenger ships are too large to offer truly personalized service. From our vantage point, we would not bet against Crystal on this one. We think that, given their vision and precedent-setting financial commitment from their new owners, Crystal will likely become the premier luxury cruising brand in the next 36 months.

But their on-board product will need to stand up to the scrutiny of some of cruising’s most sophisticated critics – current Crystal past guests.