Besides the announcements that upscale cruise lines made at Seatrade Cruise Global 2016, there was much to be read on the surface and between the lines as the luxury market heats up like never before.
At a dedicated panel, Rick D. Meadows, president, Seabourn & President, Cunard North America; Karl J. Pojer, CEO, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises; Edie Rodriguez, president & CEO, Crystal Cruises; Navin Sawhney, CEO, Ponant Cultural Cruises and Expeditions, and Enzo Visone, CEO, Silversea Cruises, sat down for a chat about the state of the luxury cruise industry, and the discussed future is sure to play out interestingly as the competition results in an abundance of choice for consumers.
You can watch the panel yourself as Periscoped live, hosted now at my Popular Cruising YouTube channel and embedded below.
Crystal Cruises continues to lead the pack with the biggest splash of announcements in recent months, and Rodriguez proudly recaps it all including the newly detailed mega-yacht – the Crystal Endeavor – set to join the Crystal Esprit in 2018. The line claims it will be the “world’s first purpose-built polar class” variety, but actually Scenic revealed its plans to build the similarly outfitted, albeit smaller, Scenic Eclipse beforehand. However, they are both scheduled to launch in August 2018, so perhaps Crystal will just sneak by as the first to set sail.
Either way, there is no denying that Crystal is making waves with the above plus another three new full-sized ships with residences, four new riverboats, a fleet of charter jets and a classic ocean liner – the storied SS United States. Most remarkably, Rodriguez admits all this amounts to only 50 percent of their future plans, begging the question, what could possibly be next? A partnership with Virgin Galactic and a luxury settlement on the moon? I wouldn’t necessarily put it past them.
It all follows the CEO’s mantra of “ECO: exclusivity, customization and options.” After all, she knows luxury means different things to different people, and these days that seems to mean a wide variety of cruise lengths that are less formal as Crystal now offers journeys from five to 128 nights while presenting black-tie dress as optional.
Meanwhile, competitors are trying to keep up with less lofty ambitions. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Pojer refreshingly sees a shift from “having to being” with less emphasis on material things and mo
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