(1 p.m. EDT) -- At its annual Sales Gala aboard Crystal Symphony, Crystal Cruises unveiled 2020 itineraries for its oceangoing ships and Crystal Esprit (including the yacht's late 2019 schedule). Highlights include a new Middle East deployment for Crystal Esprit with a return to the Seychelles, and a focus on overnight stays for Crystal Symphony and Serenity. River and expedition yacht itineraries for 2020 are yet to be released.
Crystal Esprit is adding a new cruise region to its 2019 schedule: the Middle East. Sailings will range from seven to 11 days and visit ports such as Doha, Qatar; Sokhna, Egypt (gateway to the Pyramids of Giza); Eilat, Israel; Sir Bani Yas Island, UAE: and Muscat, Oman. The ship will overnight in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and spend two nights in Aqaba, so passengers have time to explore Petra and Wadi Rum. The Middle East itineraries will begin October 20, 2019 and continue through the holiday season.
In mid-January, Esprit will return to the Seychelles, where it spent its maiden season, with seven-night sailings out of Mahe. Then, from April through early November, the yacht will return to the Aegean and Adriatic, with a focus on exploring Croatia, Greece and the Cyclades.
Together, Crystal's two ocean ships will circle the globe in 2020, with an emphasis on overnight calls. Destinations include the Mediterranean (with both ships spending time there), Northern and Western Europe, Asia and the South Pacific, India, the Middle East, Alaska, the Canadian Maritimes and the Caribbean.
Overnights: Combined, the ships will overnight in 55 cities, with an overnight port call on nearly every sailing. Overnight stays are often planned around marquee events, such as Edinburgh's Military Tattoo and Fringe Festival or Monaco's Grand Prix.
2020 world cruise: Crystal Serenity will sail Crystal's 25th world cruise from Miami to Rome, heading south to visit the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The itinerary will touch 23 countries with 17 overnight stays and three maiden calls.
Maiden visits: Though Crystal has sailed to the majority of cruise ports throughout its history, its 2020 season will include a few first-time calls at Pohnpei, Micronesia; Majuro, Marshall Islands; Hambantota, Sri Lanka; Mooloolaba, Australia; Airlie Beach, Australia; and Alghero, Sardinia.
Mediterranean: Crystal will offer 25 Mediterranean sailings across both vessels, staggering visits to extend the season there in the spring and summer. Many of the itineraries will be seven-night cruises, appealing to travelers still working, which can be combined into longer back-to-back itineraries without repeated ports, for retirees and cruisers looking to spend more time in Europe.
New transatlantic route: Calling on Barcelona and Malaga, Spain; Ponta Delgada and Praia da Vitoria, Azores; St. John's and St. Anthony, Newfoundland; and Saguenay, Quebec.
Warm weather in winter: Holiday sailings are vastly different, but both sun-seeking, with Symphony sailing Hong Kong to Bangkok and Serenity in the Caribbean. In addition, Symphony will offer a 33-night winter escape in the Pacific, with visits to Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and the Philippines.
Places where Crystal won't sail in 2020 include South America and Turkey.
Crystal's 2020 voyages go on sale May 1, 2018. Itineraries for Crystal Endeavor, Crystal's new-build luxury expedition yacht set to launch in 2020, will be announced at a later date.
--By Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor