Crystal River Cruises’ ‘Rhine Class’ Keel Laying Takes Place at Germany’s MV Werften Shipyard

Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler set to join luxurious fleet in summer 2017 

           Crystal Bach and Crystal MahlerCrystal River Cruises, the world’s only luxury river cruise line, took an important step toward expanding its growing fleet today, as the keel was laid for the company’s first two new build vessels, Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler. During a ceremony at MV WERFTEN shipyard in Wismar, Germany, building of the “Rhine Class” luxury river yachts officially commenced. In summer 2017, the two ultra-luxury vessels are set to embark on their maiden voyages along Europe’s mightiest rivers: the Rhine, Main and Danube.

In the presence of Tan Sri Lim, Chairman of Crystal parent company Genting Hong Kong; Edie Rodriguez, Crystal’s CEO and president; and Erwin Sellering, Prime Minister of the State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, plus numerous distinguished guests, the first sections of the six-star ships were ceremoniously lowered into position on keel blocks.

Genting Hong Kong completed the acquisition of the Lloyd Werft ship building yards earlier this year in anticipation of Crystal’s extraordinary brand and fleet expansion, which, by 2019, will see six new build luxury river yachts, the world’s first purpose-built polar class megayacht and the first of three Exclusive Class™ polar class ocean ships constructed at the yard.

Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler will measure approximately 135 meters in length and 11 meters in breadth, accommodating 110 guests in Crystal’s signature, all-suite luxury.

The luxury river yachts will offer Crystal guests luxurious amenities that surpass the comforts of home, including Crystal’s acclaimed butler service for every suite, plush king-sized beds that face toward the Panoramic Balcony-Windows, walk-in closets, dual vanity in the bathrooms, ETRO robes and slippers, wall-mounted flat-screen HD TVs, and Nespresso machines. Additional enticing features include Crystal’s highly-acclaimed cuisine in multiple eateries: the elegant Waterside Restaurant, namesake Bistro cafés and the exclusive Vintage Room; Cove Bar and Palm Court.

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Crystal Cruises Concludes SS United States Technical Feasibility Study

America’s Flagship Found Structurally Sound But Technical Challenges Prevent
Her Return to Modern Seagoing Service 

SS United States Conservancy Will Continue To Pursue Redevelopment Opportunities

            Following an intensive, six-month evaluation, Crystal Cruises today determined that while the SS United States is structurally sound, the technical and commercial challenges associated with returning the historic liner to service as a modern cruise ship have unfortunately proven insurmountable. As a show of support for the vessel, Crystal Cruises will be making a significant donation of $350,000 to aid in the Conservancy’s ongoing mission to save the ship. The Conservancy intends to resume its pursuit of stationary redevelopment opportunities for America’s Flagship.

In February, Crystal and the SS United States Conservancy announced they had entered into an exclusive option agreement with the goal of converting the iconic 1950’s-era vessel into a modern, luxury cruise ship that would comply with all modern safety and technical standards – unprecedented for a single vessel refurbishment. Crystal commenced a comprehensive feasibility study and professional evaluation, convening a world-class team of engineers and experts while incurring over $1 million in costs.

“Over the past six months, Crystal has conducted an extensive feasibility study to restore ‘America’s Flagship’ to oceangoing service. Unfortunately, the hurdles that would face us when trying to bring a 65-year-old vessel up to modern safety, design and international regulatory compliance have proven just too great to clear in both a technically and commercially responsible manner,” said Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez.

“While it has been determined that Crystal’s exciting vision for the ship would have required overcoming various technical hurdles and major changes to her historic design, the studies performed have confirmed the ship is structurally sound,” said Susan Gibbs, Executive Director of the SS United States Conservancy. “America’s Flagship continues to hold enormous potential as a stationary mixed-use development and museum in New York or another urban waterfront setting. The SS United States Conservancy remains deeply committed to saving this unique and powerful symbol of the nation’s strength, history, and innovation.”

Led by retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Tim Sullivan, Crystal’s impressive team of maritime experts and engineers conducted numerous assessments on the ship in the Port of Philadelphia, where it has been docked for 20 years. The evaluation and testing included in-depth assessments of the ship’s structural condition; underwater inspections of the hull by divers; the examination of her fuel and salt water ballasting tanks; and a series of intensive engineering studies to deduce what would be needed to bring her back into service.

Regrettably, the technical feasibility study concluded that while the ship is remarkably intact and structurally sound, modifying the ship for today’s standards for oceangoing service (SOLAS) would require significant changes to the hull that would pose stability challenges. Additionally, the installation of a modern, state-of-the-art diesel electric propulsion plant would have necessitated altering of the existing shaft lines and rebuilding about 25 percent of the hull to reconfigure the ship to a twin shaft-twin rudder arrangement. While it was known that the vessel would need to have been essentially rebuilt from the inside out, these specific challenges, among others, collectively posed significant risk to the success of the project.

The Conservancy will immediately restart its aggressive outreach to qualified developers and investors to secure the ship’s future, while continuing its ongoing mission to educate the public about the legacy of the vessel and building its museum collection and archives. A national reunion of former crew members and passengers is planned in Philadelphia on September 17.

“The Conservancy is deeply grateful to Crystal Cruises for recognizing the SS United States’ historic importance and for working so hard on the ship’s behalf,” said Gibbs.  “I would also like to thank our members and supporters from across the country and around the world for their continued support. Together we will continue to work tirelessly to save America’s Flagship and honor the legendary liner’s legacy.”

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Silversea Announces pan-Asia Charter of Silver Shadow with CMG for 2017

Silver ShadowSilversea has announced that China Merchants Group has entered into an agreement to charter its ship, Silver Shadow, for pan-Asia cruises that will take place between January 29, 2017 and May 4, 2017.

Itineraries will include days at sea and many maiden ports of call, providing access to iconic and innovative ports, old and new. Guests looking to take advantage of this unique opportunity should get in contact directly with China Merchants Group at:

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Regent Seven Seas Cruises Officially Welcomes Seven Seas Explorer to Fleet: Glitz, Glamour, Royalty and Music Highlight Christening Ceremony in Monte Carlo

Seven Seas ExplorerGodmother of Seven Seas Explorer, Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco, cut a red velvet ribbon which sent a Primat bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne smashing against the ship’s hull to officially christen the newest member of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet, unquestionably the most luxurious cruise ship ever built. The gala christening ceremony took place in Monte Carlo, one of the world’s most glamorous cities, and included a special private concert by world-renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco delivered the traditional maritime blessing before the bottle of champagne broke against the ship’s hull, officially christening the vessel. The jubilation of the bottle breaking moment was followed by a spectacular 40-minute private performance from musical maestro Andrea Bocelli, capping an incredible evening for a ship that sets new benchmarks for luxury.

Seven Seas Explorer delivers an unrivaled luxury cruise experience. The ship features extravagantly designed theaters and lounges, an unparalleled collection of opulent and spacious suites, five lavish gourmet restaurants and an unprecedented level of personalized service. At 55,254 gross-registered tons and carrying only 750 guests, the all-suite, all-balcony ship boasts one of the highest space ratios and lowest crew to guest ratios in the cruise industry, not to mention the largest private verandas in the cruise industry and a new category of luxury suite, the nearly 4,500-square foot Regent Suite.

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Crystal Mozart Christened in Vienna, Officially Launching Crystal River Cruises

Crystal MozartThe largest river ship on the Danube River marks newest chapter in epic brand expansion, becomes ‘World’s Only Luxury River Cruise Line™’ 

            Today, in another milestone for the expansion of Crystal, Crystal Mozart was officially welcomed to the Crystal River Cruises fleet in Vienna, Austria. During an elegant ceremony attended by local dignitaries, media and distinguished executives from Crystal, the “Queen of Europe’s Rivers” was christened by Godmother Ms. Elisabeth Gürtler, who is the managing director of both the Hotel Sacher, Vienna’s most famous hotel, and the city’s historic Spanish Riding School.

            Crystal Mozart’s maiden voyage on July 13, will mark the official launch of Crystal River Cruises, which will see four additional river yachts launched by the end of next summer. Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez, will personally welcome each guest of the inaugural sailing aboard the newly re-imagined vessel, where they will experience the hallmarks of the all-inclusive, all-exclusive Crystal Experience – spacious suites, personal butlers, six-star service featuring the highest guest to crew ratio in river cruising at 1.74, luxurious amenities, world-class cuisine and the only river ship with a full wrap around promenade.

            The traditional ceremony welcomed 175 VIP guests to a cocktail reception on the Vista Deck Four of Crystal Mozart, featuring a traditional Viennese Brass Orchestra dressed in historic uniforms and playing traditional Austrian Marches. Master of Ceremonies and Crystal Mozart’s lead entertainer, musician Mark Farris, then ushered guests shoreside for the naming of the ship by the godmother and breaking of the magnum of Szigeti’s 2011 Sonderedition “Adele” champagne. Rodriguez, along with Crystal COO Thomas Mazloum and Crystal River Cruises Vice President and Managing Director Walter Littlejohn officially welcomed Crystal Mozart to the fleet and kicked off further festivities, which included a lavish dinner in the ship’s Waterside and Blue restaurants.

        Following dinner, guests were transported to the Belvedere Palace for an exclusive evening of Mozart and Strauss performances, an event that all Crystal Mozart guests will experience complimentary when sailing on Crystal River Cruises’ Danube river itineraries.

            Measuring 395 feet long (120.4 meters) and 75 feet wide (22.9 meters), the all-suite Crystal Mozart is the largest of all European river vessels and boasts numerous public areas for guests to enjoy. On Crystal Deck Three, guests will find an array of elegant and casual dining options, lounges and bars that will foster camaraderie among guests as they share stories and cocktails. On the uppermost deck, Vista Deck 4, a pop-up bar sets the scenes for celebrations under the stars while during the day guests can attend a yoga session or relax in expansive sun loungers as they sail along the Danube River.  Fitness and wellness enthusiasts can indulge in the largest spa in river cruising at the Crystal Life Spa, which features an indoor pool and fully-equipped fitness, spa and saloon facilities.

            The 154-guest capacity vessel will sail itineraries along the Danube River, calling in some of the region’s most stunning locales throughout Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, and Serbia.  And for the first time on a Crystal voyage, most excursions are complimentary. Guests can reserve electronic bicycles on the ship for independent exploration, while VIP Champagne boat tours will also be available for private cruising and sight-seeing along Europe’s narrower waterways.

            Crystal Mozart also bears the distinction as the most technologically advanced river ship in the world. Each suite offers Apple® iPad devices that serve as Digital Directories for virtually all of guests’ on-board needs, from dry cleaning and butler service to room service and dining reservations, as well as concierge and Crystal Adventures inquiries and more. Suites also boast 40-inch flat-screen HD televisions, along with backlit bathroom mirrors with integrated televisions. Bathrooms also feature highly advanced TOTO Washlet personal cleaning systems integrated with the toilets, which also offer heated seats, automatic open/close, aerated water and warm air dryer.

            Throughout the ship, digital signage puts available services and port information at guests’ fingertips, including weather forecasts for the day, available spa appointments, dining reservations and profiles of Crystal crew members.

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Cunard’s Iconic Queen Mary 2 Makes U.S. Debut After Extensive Remastering

Refit Includes New Staterooms, Expanded Kennels, New Dining Venues

David Noyes, left, CEO, Cunard, Captain Christopher Wells, center, and Richard Meadows, right, President, Cunard, North America, pose for a photo in the Queens Grill restaurant aboard the remastered Queen Mary 2, Wednesday, July 6, 2016, at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in New York, its U.S. homeport. The Queen Mary 2 spent 25 days in dry dock and a refit that cost in the region of $132 million, renovating its staterooms, restaurants and public areas. (Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Cunard)

Ella Bean, a Yorkie mix, enjoys the remastered kennels on the Queen Mary 2, the only passenger liner to carry pets, Wednesday, July 6, 2016, at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in New York, its U.S. homeport. (Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Cunard)

Cunard’s flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2 sailed into its U.S. homeport, Brooklyn, on July 6 after a significant refit costing in the region of $132 million. The luxury liner has been lovingly remastered with new contemporary interior designs and guest experiences, many of which take their design inspiration from the original Queen Mary, which debuted in New York 80 years ago. The Queen Mary 2 holds a unique place in the cruise landscape, continuing the legacy of the great ocean liners and transatlantic travel.

A number of VIPs were in attendance at the U.S. Remastering launch which included a day of celebration and fanfare. Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc, commented on the occasion, “More than any other ship in our Carnival Corporation fleet of more than one hundred ships, Queen Mary 2 is the most famous, the most recognizable and certainly the most unique. It was the dream of our Chairman Micky Arison to build the Queen Mary 2 almost 15 years ago. He aspired to recreate that luxurious ocean liner experience from the past and Queen Mary 2 is the glorious result.”

The refit was conducted in the Blohm + Voss Shipyard, in Hamburg, one of the only shipyards in the world large enough to hold Queen Mary 2. It was a 24-hour a day operation, with over one million man hours put into the refurbishment, during a 25-day period.

The Remastering Features:

  • Redesign and refurbishment of the Queens Grill and Princess Grill suites and restaurants, as well as Britannia staterooms, the latter to be fully completed by the end of the year
  • The addition of 30 further Britannia Club staterooms, 15 Britannia single staterooms and five Britannia inside staterooms
  • Redesign of key public spaces and restaurants, including the transformation of the former Winter Garden into the Carinthia Lounge, the introduction of The Verandah as the ship’s new specialty restaurant, and the complete refresh and restructuring of the Kings Court, the ship’s popular buffet area
  • 12 additional kennels and other enhancements
  • And as befitting the flagship of the Cunard fleet, a complete repaint of the ship exterior and significant technical enhancements and structural changes

Expanded Kennels:
As the only passenger vessel to carry dogs and cats, Queen Mary 2 has expanded its kennel service during this multi-million dollar renovation. Pet travel has soared in the United States over recent years and due to increased demand, Cunard has added 12 new kennels for a total of 24. In addition, the ship extended the kennel area, adding an owner’s lounge, new pet playground, and a larger outdoor area with an historic English lamppost and American fire hydrant so canines from both sides of the pond will feel at home. The artwork in the lounge was specifically created by Karen Katon-Oprey, daughter of Captain Kevin Oprey, Master of Queen Mary 2. A full-time Kennel Master takes care of daily pet responsibilities including feeding, walking and cuddling the pets onboard.

Cunard’s pet-friendly policy dates back 176 years to the maiden voyage of the Britannia in 1840 when the ship sailed with a cow to provide fresh milk for passengers. Famous canines such as Rin-Tin-Tin, Elizabeth Taylor’s pampered pups and the Duke of Windsor’s dogs traveled on Cunard and to continue that tradition, NYC’s top Instagram dogs, @ChloeTheMiniFrenchie@WallytheWelshCori, and @EllaBeanTheDog, joined Cunard on board the ship to cut the ribbon on the new kennels.

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Paul Gauguin Cruises Honored as “#1 Midsize-Ship Ocean Cruise Line” by Readers in Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2016

Paul Gauguin Cruises , operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the m/s Paul Gauguin, was awarded “#1 Midsize-Ship Ocean Cruise Line” by readers in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2016.    

In 2015, Paul Gauguin Cruises was voted by readers “#2 Small-Ship Ocean Cruise Line” in the Travel + Leisure 2015 World’s Best Awards.  The line was also voted “#1 Small-Ship Cruise Line” and “#1 Small-Ship Cruise Line for Families” by readers in the Travel + Leisure 2014 World’s Best Awards.  More recently, Paul Gauguin Cruises was awarded #2 in the category of “Top Small Cruise Lines” in the Condé Nast Traveler 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards and recognized on the publication’s 2016 “Gold List.”  The line also was selected as “Best Small-Ship Cruise Line” in Global Traveler’s 4th Annual Leisure Lifestyle Awards.

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Crystal River Cruises Unveils Details and Design Concepts of Four New Build River Yachts Debuting in 2017

New vessels to feature Crystal’s signature luxury, spaces and amenities, plus several ‘Crystal Differences’ that set Crystal River Cruises apart

           As Crystal River Cruises prepares to launch the first of its seven luxury river vessels, the fully re-imagined Crystal Mozart, the World’s Most Awarded Luxury Cruise Line is simultaneously announcing design plans for the next phase of its four newly built luxury river yachts. The river yachts are set to embark in spring and summer of next year.  As with Crystal’s other recent endeavors (including Crystal Yacht Cruises’ Crystal Esprit and Crystal Luxury Air’s Global Express Jet), Crystal River Cruises’ Crystal Ravel, Crystal Bach, Crystal Debussy and Crystal Mahler will not simply join the ranks of competitors, but will set a new standard of luxury river cruising experiences.

Crystal Cruises River CruisingThe four new river yachts will boast nearly identical design strategy to Crystal Mozart, with some notable variances due to the difference in the vessels’ size. While Crystal Mozart is the largest river-going ship in Europe (known as the “Queen of Europe’s Rivers”) accommodating 158 guests, the new builds will carry approximately half that number for a more intimate environment. Sailing on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers, Crystal Mahler and Crystal Bach are distinguished as “Rhine Class” yachts, at 135 meters in length with 53 suites for 106 guests; while Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel will sail on the Seine, Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde Rivers and are considered “Paris Class” yachts, with a length of 110 meters and guest capacity of 78 guests in 39 suites.

All four river yachts will offer Crystal guests luxurious amenities that surpass the comforts of home, including Crystal’s acclaimed butler service for every suite – suites that reach up to 759 square feet (Crystal Suite) and feature plush king-sized beds that face toward the Panoramic Balcony-Windows are covered with fine Egyptian cotton linens, plus walk-in closets, full-length mirrors, ETRO robes and slippers, wall-mounted flat-screen HD TVs, and Nespresso machines.

Additional enticing features include Crystal’s highly-acclaimed cuisine in multiple eateries: the elegant Waterside Restaurant, namesake Bistro cafés and the exclusive Vintage Room; Cove Bar and Palm Court. Further cementing its differentiator in the river cruise industry, Crystal will offer true open-seating dining, allowing guests to dine where they want, when they want and with whom they want.

Public amenities and services include full-service spa and separate fitness center, equipped with modern machines and cardio equipment as well as free weights – both with dedicated professionals for service and nearly unheard of in the river cruising market. Plus a partial indoor/outdoor pool on the aft of Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler.

In order to give guests the best possible experience, the new river yachts will now offer all-suite accommodations that are located entirely above the waterline, providing spectacular and unobstructed views through the Panoramic Balcony-Windows.

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Silversea Unveils New Galapagos Itineraries

Starting March 25, 2017, luxury expedition cruise specialist Silversea will alternate two new seven-night Galápagos itineraries approved by the Galápagos National Park Service. The 100-guest, all-suite Silver Galapagos will operate both itineraries sailing Saturday to Saturday, with San Cristóbal as a new arrival or departure port for guests.

Silver GalapagosThe new north central itinerary departs Baltra for San Cristóbal with a newly added circumnavigation of Isla Daphne Grande (aka Daphne Major). The voyage also explores Bahía Darwin and El Barranco in Genovesa; Galapaguera Cerro Colorado and Punta Pitt in San Cristóbal; Bahía Gardner (aka Gardner Bay) and Punta Suarez in Española; El Edén, Fausto Llerena Breeding Center and Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz; as well as Bahía Sullivan, Seymour Norte, Rábida, and Plazas Sur.

Departing from San Cristóbal for Baltra, the new western itinerary is enhanced by such new points of interest as Cerro Dragón and Playa Las Bachas in Santa Cruz and a circumnavigation of Roca León Dormido (aka Kicker Rock). The balance of the itinerary includes Punta Vicente Roca, Caleta Tagus and Bahía Elizabeth in Isabela; Post Office Bay, Islote Champion and Punta Cormorant in Floreana; Los Gemelos, Fausto Llerena Breeding Center and Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz; Bartolomé, Playa Espumilla, and Punta Espinoza.

Silver Galapagos expedition cruises offer adventurous travellers the life-enriching chance to discover a wild, pristine paradise that has long been regarded as a natural laboratory of evolution. On complimentary expeditions ashore guided by an experienced expedition team (certified by the Galápagos National Park Service), Silversea’s guests may experience up-close encounters with an abundance of wildlife that includes sun-basking land iguanas, giant tortoises, blue- and red-footed boobies, colourful marine iguanas, sea lions, penguins and Darwin’s famous finches. Aboard ship, guests enjoy such Silversea hallmarks as the pampering attention of a butler, sumptuous gourmet cuisine, complimentary wines and spirits served throughout the ship, and free Wi-Fi.

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First Steel Cut For Seabourn’s Newest Ultra-Luxury Vessel, Seabourn Ovation, Due For Delivery In Spring 2018

Seabourn, has taken a giant step forward toward the launch of its next new vessel, Seabourn Ovation, with the commemorative cutting of the first steel. The ceremony, held today at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy, was presided over by Seabourn President Richard Meadows and Genoa shipyard Director Raffaele Davassi.

Seabourn OvationScheduled to join the Seabourn fleet in spring 2018, Seabourn Ovation will expand and build upon the line’s award-winning and highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were first introduced between 2009 and 2011. Seabourn Ovation will maintain the line’s high ratio of space per guest, enabling a highly personalized level of service.

Sister ship Seabourn Encore will debut in late 2016, and with the addition of Seabourn Ovation, Seabourn will have the youngest and most modern ultra-luxury fleet in the industry.

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