Crystal Cruises has a special place in my heart. My very first cruise, on my very first trip as a travel TV producer, was a Crystal cruise. We sailed on the Crystal Symphony from Athens to Barcelona for two magical and non-stop weeks, impossibly filming an entire episode of television in each port of call.
It was on that voyage that I fell in love with the cruise lifestyle and with Crystal.
In a sort of poetic symmetry, my last cruise before the pandemic was also a Crystal cruise. We sailed on the Crystal Serenity on a yachtsman's itinerary in the Caribbean. It wasn't long after the ship had emerged from a drydock refurbishment that resulted in new penthouse butler suites, new dining options and alfresco restaurants, as well as redesigned lounges and entertainment areas.
The new suites were spectacular, but maybe the most memorable thing about Crystal Serenity’s penthouse suites was the experience of Crystal’s butler service.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE TO GET A TASTE OF CRYSTAL’S BUTLER SERVICE
So I was among many cruise lovers and industry observers saddened when we learned that the company didn't make it through pandemic hard times, ceasing operations early in 2022, with the ships put up for sale.
However, after months of uncertainty, some great news for this staple of luxury cruising. These two legendary ocean ships are being reunited and will sail again as a resurrected Crystal Cruises.
A&K Travel Group, the travel company that operates luxury touring operator Abercrombie & Kent, acquired the Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity and will operate them again as Crystal Cruises. The two ships will resume service in 2023 after extensive upgrades.
Check out the new ownership's pedigree. In addition to A&K founder Geoffrey Kent, the other owner is the company helmed by Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, former head of Silversea luxury cruises. Between them, they have the double expertise of creating luxury travel and cruise experiences guests love.
“I am thrilled to start this new chapter and to be back in an industry that has always had, and always will have a special place in my heart,” said Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio.
“Thirty-five years ago, my family acquired control of Sitmar Cruises, building three of the first purpose-built cruise ships, and 30 years ago my family pioneered a new way of cruising. Our goal was to deliver the best experience, pampering guests from all over the world with around-the-clock butler service and extraordinary culinary experiences.
“Selling the cruise business that belonged to my family for a quarter of a century (Silversea) was a difficult decision, as I knew I would miss this industry immensely. Therefore, when the opportunity arose to acquire Crystal Cruises, I did not think about it twice.”
Geoffrey Kent added, “The idea of combining the unparalleled onboard service that Crystal Cruises is known for, with the extraordinary tailor-made experiences Abercrombie & Kent has been successfully providing for our guests for the past 60 years, fills me with excitement, enthusiasm and pride.”
Still no word on the future of the former Crystal Cruises' more recent river cruise ships or new expedition ship, but the renewal of this storied ocean cruise line with a new vision means a whole new cruise experience onboard these legendary vessels on the horizon.
By: Lynn Elmhirst Producer and Host, World's Greatest Cruises
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