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Crystal's multibillion-dollar expansion covers the luxury travel bases

CEO Edie Rodriguez - 'We're not done yet'
Crystal Cruises' expansion into grand-scale luxury expedition, yacht, river and air travel builds from its core cruise product and is based on the interests of its Crystal Society members, president and ceo Edie Rodriguez told Seatrade Cruise News.

They're vacationing with other operators and they'd like to do it with Crystal, Rodriguez said in a call from Crystal Serenity, where she's hosting the line's annual President's Cruise.

While Rodriguez couldn't discuss new owner Genting Hong Kong's investment to build for Crystal a trio of polar-class expedition ships in excess of 100,000gt and at least two river vessels for Europe, the upgrade of a luxury yacht and the addition of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for around the world trips, this clearly would be in the range of several billion dollars.

The chief executive's growth strategy is coming to fruition thanks to the support of chairman Tan Sri KT Lim, who is 'passionate about Crystal' and an 'incredible visionary,' Rodriguez said.

With accommodations starting at a roomy 400 square feet, the spacious Crystal Exclusive Class ocean vessels will operate all over the world. Their polar-class construction ensures the ability to provide expedition itineraries in Arctic and Antarctic waters, and their Zodiacs will facilitate landings there as well as in Asia and other regions, according to Rodriguez.

The first ship is planned to arrive from Lloyd Werft by the end of 2018, and ideally the next two will follow in 2019 and 2020, or at least in 2020 and 2021.

Rodriguez said the 48 huge Crystal Residences that will be sold as private 'homes' will be priced in line with luxurious, multimillion-dollar condos. The pricing has not been determined but already Crystal has interest from a couple buyers.

Meanwhile, the new Crystal River Cruises, debuting in spring 2017, will field 'the two most spectacular river ships ever built,' in Rodriguez's words. They're being built at Lloyd Werft, too, and will operate in Europe but Rodriguez wasn't ready to disclose design details or itineraries due to competitive reasons. The plans are for two ships 'initially,' she noted, suggesting Crystal intends to grow the river division beyond that.

Crystal Yacht Cruises, to begin sailing in December this year, will field Star Cruises' former MegaStar Taurus, renamed Crystal Esprit.

Rodriguez said the ship is 'spectacular' as MegaStar Taurus but it is being elevated further in an ongoing upgrade at Sembawang Shipyard in Singapore.

Bookings for the 62-passenger, all-suite ship that will be chock-full of water toys including a two-passenger submarine have opened exclusively to Crystal Society members through August for seven-day cruises in the Seychelles Islands, the Arabian Sea, the Adriatic and the Greek Isles. Itineraries through early 2018 are available.

Veteran cruise line executive Helen Panagos is vp marketing and sales for Crystal Yacht Cruises, and part of an expanded management team Rodriguez has been putting in place.

It includes, as previously reported, Bruce Setloff, vp global charters and special projects; Claudius Docekal, vp deployment; Carmen Corvos Roig, svp marketing and sales; general counsel Lyall Duncan; Donald Mason, svp finance and accounting; and Rolando Trejos Jr., vp revenue management. All are based in Crystal's new branch office in Miami. Donna Cook, who was director of sales for western US and Canada, was promoted to vp quality control and communications, based in the Los Angeles corporate headquarters.

These professionals supplement Crystal's seasoned Los Angeles team including Thomas Mazloum, chief operating officer.

'My executive management is in place,' Rodriguez said, adding that she hand-picked the newcomers and is 'confident this is the right team to take this brand forward.'

Rodriguez said she's ecstatic about Crystal's expansion plans under its new owner and hinted: 'We're not done yet.'