A&K Travel Group Plans Four New Ships for Crystal by 2029

Just as Crystal’s revitalized 740-passenger Crystal Serenity sets sail over the weekend on its inaugural cruise from Marseille, France, and the refreshed, 606-passenger Crystal Symphony plans to relaunch from Athens in early September, the ultra-luxury line is plotting for sizable future growth and expansion. During a press briefing that Luxury Travel Advisor attended aboard Crystal Serenity on Saturday, Cristina Levis, CEO of A&K Travel Group, Crystal’s parent company, told media, travel advisors and trade executives that “our aim is to have four new-builds by the end of 2029."

Yes, the ultra-luxury line hopes to expand and in a big way—with two luxury expedition ships and two classic ships. Levis said the brand is working with its advisors, lenders and export credit agents in order to sign a memorandum of agreement with two European shipbuilders for the four new ships. Not much detail was released, but the line plans on “keeping it small” with vessels likely in the 220-passenger range for the expedition ships and around 650 or so with the classic ships.

While nothing had yet been officially finalized at the time of the briefing, it’s clear A&K Travel Group is confident the discussions are progressing as planned. Levis said that it was possible construction could start on one expedition ship and one classic ship as early as the second quarter 2024.

A&K Group bought the Crystal brand and its two classic ships in mid-2022, so it’s made significant progress in the ultra-luxury brand’s comeback. "We have ambitious growth plans for Crystal and are proud of what we have accomplished with the relaunch of Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony in just under a year following the purchase of the brand,” Levis said. “We are now thrilled to formally announce that we will be growing our fleet.”

The former Crystal Cruises, owned by Genting Hong Kong, also previously owned and operated a river fleet but those vessels were acquired by Riverside Luxury Cruises, a new European line. In addition, the former Crystal launched Crystal Endeavor, a new expedition ship, just a few months before its early 2022 shutdown. That nearly new expedition ship was subsequently purchased by Silversea Cruises and now sails as Silver Endeavour.

As Crystal moves forward and looks to attract not only loyal past cruise guests but also new-to-brand guests, including A&K’s loyal tour guests, the expedition side of the business likely has strong appeal. An expedition ship or two would allow A&K Group to keep its Arctic region and Antarctica expedition offerings “in the family.” Currently, it charters Ponant vessels for its expedition sailings. But Levis told the media and trade audience that “for the foreseeable future, A&K will charter Ponant ships, though over 40 crew members from the former Crystal team will be on board the Ponant voyages.”

Stay tuned here for future updates on Crystal's plans for fleet growth. 

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