He joined Crystal in June 2016, just a month before the brand's first river sailing of the fully renovated, double-wide Crystal Mozart on the Danube. Crystal River Cruises went on to introduce four newly built identical sister vessels, making a five-ship operation within 2.5 years.
Littlejohn's exit comes as Crystal Cruises halts operations with parent company Genting Hong Kong filing to wind up its business as cash runs out.
'Proud of what we created and delivered'
'I'm proud of what we created and what we've delivered: the very best of Crystal on an exceptional and highly differentiated river cruise platform,' Littlejohn said. 'We delivered an experience that time and time again customers, and travel advisors who were able to experience it, shared that it was the best vacation they ever had. The food, service and accommodations truly excelled.'
Littlejohn said starting a river cruise operation from scratch was a steep learning curve, along with challenges like the low water conditions in 2018. Most of the river team were new to Crystal but quickly grasped the essence of the brand.
A family within the Crystal family
'We created a family within the family,' he said. 'It was a tight-knit team.' Noting that some river operators are lucky to get 20% of their crew back from one season to the next, he was gratified Crystal always drew back more than 90%.
'We delivered and gave people exceptional value for their money,' Littlejohn continued, adding that occupancies were high year after year: 97% in 2019.
'It's so sad that was interrupted by COVID. 2020 was going to be a phenomenal year for us, and 2022 was trending to be phenomenal, then came Delta and Omicron,' he said.
Taking a sabbatical
Littlejohn now plans to take a few months off to travel and spend time with friends before getting back to work.
Does he hope that will be in the cruise business?
'Absolutely. I'm life-long dedicated to the cruise industry, and I will be coming back to the cruise industry without question,' he said.