March 29, 2017
(5 p.m. EDT) -- At a sales gala on Crystal Mozart, Crystal executives gave top travel agents a first look at plans for the upcoming refurbishments of Crystal Symphony and Serenity. Cruise trade publication Seatrade revealed some of the details, ranging from more penthouses to fewer passengers and a complete reimagination of culinary and entertainment options.
A Crystal spokeswoman told Cruise Critic this was just a "light reveal," with full details and visuals coming in late April. Until then, here's what travel agents were told in Europe:
Crystal, which currently has some of the largest luxury cruise ships afloat, will reduce the passenger count on both ships, with Crystal Symphony shrinking from 922 to 848 passengers and Crystal Serenity from 1,070 to 980. By keeping crew numbers the same, the move will improve the crew-to-passenger ratio, with an anticipated boost in service levels. Crystal plans to reduce passenger count by replacing smaller suites with larger penthouses. The new suites, called Seabreeze Penthouse Suites, will be the same size but a different design than current penthouses.
Crystal is moving toward an open-seating plan on its ships, and changing up the onboard restaurants. The Crystal Dining Room will be renamed the Waterside Restaurant. The Lido will become the Marketplace, remaining a casual buffet venue. However, at night, it will turn into a Brazilian churrascaria, as found on lines like Norwegian.
Celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa will replace the Silk Road venue on both ships with a new venue called Umi Uma by Nobu. Silk will then replace Tastes; the new incarnation will be casual and serve all three meals with a Chinese flair (think dim sum and barbecue ribs). Prego will get a new menu, and The Vintage Room will begin "lunch and lecture" meals with wine or beer tastings. Suite passengers will be able to dine in Umi Uma and Prego as often as they want at no charge; non-suite passengers still get one complimentary dinner in each venue, and need to pay for additional visits, if available.
As seems to be the rage these days, Crystal has teamed up with a Broadway star – Tony Award-winning producer Kevin McCollum. He will create unique entertainment options for Crystal passengers, bringing Broadway singers and dancers, as well as behind-the-scenes folks, for interactive onboard programs.
In addition, free unlimited Internet will be available to all passengers on ocean ships, as well as yacht and river ships. Wi-Fi systems will receive upgrades. Crystal is hoping to bring some of the technological innovations found on Crystal Mozart to the ocean-going ships, such as iPads for environmental controls and booking tables at onboard restaurants.
The agents were also told about some of the enhancements coming to the line's river fleet. Two expert lecturers will join each sailing, Seatrade reported, and excursions will categorized in five areas, including gastronomy and adventures. The line's newbuilds Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler, which will join Crystal Mozart in August and September 2017, will have most of the same amenities as the current ship, except the Blue alternative restaurant and the cigar club. The Palm Court lounge will be topped by glass so passengers can get great views of Rhine valley castles. Each suite will have a wall of glass as well, with the top part sliding down to create a French balcony.
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor