This post is sponsored by Crystal Cruises.
As travelers evolve in their preferences and expectations, so too does the definition of luxury, a growing aspiration for cruise consumers looking for intimate and enriching travel experiences. From European rivers to the seclusion of Patagonia, an estimated 65 dedicated luxury cruise ships, including 25 new vessels, will be in service by 2024, according to the 2018 Luxury Market Report from Cruise Industry News, and market capacity is expected to increase 66.6% over the next six years.
“The luxury sector in particular is seeing tremendous growth due to the extremely inquisitive and active nature of the baby boomer generation, which continues to seek experiences both traditional and off-the-beaten path that will fully immerse them in new cultures and destinations,” said Carmen Roig, senior vice president of marketing and sales, Crystal. “As travelers’ interests and choices change over time,” she added, “luxury companies have evolved to continue to meet and even exceed their expectations.”
Trends contributing to the evolution of luxury include smaller vessels such as yachts, which offers a more intimate atmosphere, while traditional luxury ships are getting even bigger. Cruise lines are updating older ships, too — Crystal Cruises’ ships will have undergone their most dramatic redesigns ever by the end of the year, and Crystal River Cruises has launched five river ships in the past 24 months, including four new builds. Crystal’s newest vessels on Europe’s rivers, are the only all-suite, all-balcony ships, with all accommodations above the water line and offering private butler service for every suite. Fewer guests creates more space, further adding to a level of personalized service and luxury that surpasses industry standards.
Also evolving over time: destinations. As expedition cruises around the world become more sought after among luxury travelers with a penchant for adventure, Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises is answering that call with the upcoming introduction of Crystal Endeavor – the world’s premier luxury expedition yacht – in 2020. The yacht’s voyages will travel to remote corners of the earth, from the Russian Far East, to Borneo to Antarctica, catering to adventurous travelers with discerning tastes. Crystal River Cruises’ collection of complimentary curated port experiences takes guests on journeys that allow them to connect with the destinations in ways that suit their individual style and preferences.
“Luxury guests are looking to experience destinations on their terms,” said Walter Littlejohn, vice president and managing director, Crystal River Cruises. “We find that one definition of ‘luxury’ is the freedom to make the journey precisely what they want it to be, with the added benefit of Crystal’s team of experts and partners seeing to all the details,”
The demand for more exclusive global experiences has been steadily on the rise for a while, according to Roig, and new technologies are enabling travelers to wander to their hearts’ content.
“The ability to connect no matter where you are in the world is important to many of our guests,” she said. “With the increased accessibility to convenient technology for travelers anywhere in the world, there are fewer limitations than ever on how far your wanderlust can take you.”
In 2016, Crystal Mozart’s complimentary Wi-Fi led to the standard of free, unlimited Wi-Fi access across all of the Crystal fleet.
Also on Crystal ships, open dining has elevated the guest experience, giving travelers the freedom to choose when, where and with whom they dine at venues serving cuisine inspired by the flavors of the world. Expanded culinary choices — Michelin-inspired cuisine from award-winning chefs — are wowing guests’ palates, while sommeliers (all certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers) share insights and endless pours of fine wines and premium spirits.
Onboard enrichment opportunities, such as in-depth wine and culinary programs, have grown over the years. A variety of programs are also suited for families and large groups, ranging from golf to Broadway themes. As multigenerational travel has increased year over year, according to Roig, Crystal Ocean ships are the only luxury vessels with dedicated spaces and seasonal programs for children.
While the nuances of luxury will continue to evolve alongside travelers’ preferences, there are a few key tenets for Crystal Cruises that won’t ever change.
“The meaning of Crystal luxury has always been rooted in extraordinary travel experiences around the world; impeccable, genuinely personal service on board; and numerous choices from ship to shore,” Roig said.
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