Crystal plans to build four new ships

ABOARD THE CRYSTAL SERENITY — Two days before its first revenue sailing, the top executive for the resurrected Crystal cruise line said the company plans to order four new ships to be delivered by 2029.

The ship order, which has not been finalized, would include two expedition vessels and two traditional, oceangoing ships, Christina Levis, CEO of A&K Travel Group, said Saturday at a briefing with travel advisors and media during a shakedown cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity.

“We are quite advanced in particular for the expedition ships,” she said about the planning, adding the those vessels are likely to be polar class 6 ships and cruise to Antarctica and the Arctic.

If all goes to plan, construction on one expedition ship and one ocean-going ship will begin by Q2 next year, said Levis. Each expedition ship would carry 220 passengers, while the classic oceangoing ships would be built for 650 passengers each, she said, fewer passengers than the line’s current ships, the Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

The company has not yet signed a shipbuilding contract, she said, but executives are working with the company’s lenders, export credit agencies in Europe, naval architects and two shipbuilding companies in Europe to build the ships, she said.  

The announcement came as the line is about to debut the Serenity and Symphony to resurrect the Crystal name. The previous incarnation of the line collapsed in early 2022 under its previous ownership, but many of its assets were purchased by the A&K Travel Group, co-led by A&K executive chairman and founder of Silversea Cruises Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio.

The Crystal Serenity, built in 2003, will operate its first revenue sailing July 31 out of Marseilles, France. The company sent it through a $150 million renovation. The Crystal Symphony, a 28-year-old ship, is undergoing similar renovations and is expected to debut on Sept. 1 from Athens. 

The company’s luxury-tour division plans to continue chartering expedition ships from Ponant into the foreseeable future despite Crystal’s newbuild plans, Levis said. However, at least 40 of the Ponant ship’s crew will be made up of former Crystal Cruises crewmembers, she said.

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