Crystal Cruises ‘Ticks All The Right Boxes’ For Multi-Generational Families

Crystal Cruises’ ultra-luxurious Five-Star Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity will go all-inclusive in 2012.

Crystal Cruises is developing a reputation as the multi-generational family cruise line of choice for well-heeled travellers, a trend observed by Kevin Griffin, Managing Director of The Cruise People – the London based agent specializing in ultra-luxury brands – who has had some interesting large international family group bookings over the last 12-months. And, with the recent introduction of Crystal’s ‘Family Memories’ program, they are offering tremendous value too with benefits such as prepaid gratuities and ship board credits for groups of six or more and a free berth if a group of ten travel together.

“These multi-generational groups can be anywhere between six and 16 family members travelling together, spanning up to three generations from 20s to 60s, and travelling from as far as Israel and Singapore,” says Kevin Griffin. “The casinos onboard the Crystal ships are certainly a draw for the Oriental and Middle East families, as is the specialist cuisine such as kosher-style dining, which is very popular with our Jewish families.”

Crystal Cruises ‘ticks all the boxes’ for these extended families with their exceptional quality and choice of entertainment, spa and fitness facilities, activities and enrichment opportunities offered aboard their two luxury vessels. Crystal Symphony (51,044 ton) and Crystal Serenity (68,700 ton) carry 922 and 1070 passengers respectively, more passengers than Crystal Cruises’ competitor small-ship luxury lines, yet their size is a huge positive in terms of scope for onboard activities.

From elegant afternoon teas and traditional paddle tennis, to discovering a flair for languages at the innovative Creative Learning Institute, joining the exclusive Walk-On-Water WOW? programme or indulging in exotic spa therapies, Crystal Cruises offer their guests a huge range of choices to fill both days and nights. Hence the attraction for the large family groups, spreading across three generations in some cases and with ages ranging from 25 to 65 (and more), as there’s plenty onboard to keep the whole family happy.

Further features of the ships’ size are the guest-to-space and guest-to-staff ratio, among the highest in the industry. The service onboard is flawless and the choice of international cuisine is superb. Kosher-style dining is offered onboard both vessels, “traditional cuisine was a particular highlight for our Jewish family, whilst the sushi from world-class chef Nobu Matsuhisa is a great reason for our Oriental families to book this product,” says Kevin Griffin.

Crystal was the first luxury line to make a significant commitment to attracting families by upgrading children’s onboard facilities and activities. They cater for younger families with a fully supervised program for kids between the ages of 3 and 17, although The Cruise People’s family groups are mostly jet-setting adults.

To date, The Cruise People’s large adult family bookings have typically come from cultures where strong families are traditional. “However there’s no reason that this principal should not be applied to other international families,” says Kevin Griffin, “where clients who live in different countries could use a cruise to get together for family events and celebrations.”

Crystal Family Memories Program

For family or friends travelling together or celebrating an important occasion such as a silver wedding anniversary or big birthday, ‘Crystal Family Memories’ offer even more reason to celebrate. For every six guests who book and pay in full on any 2011 cruise, Crystal Cruises will provide pre-paid gratuities, shipboard credits of US$100 per person and more. And, if the group consists of ten full-fare guests, they will also receive one free berth!

For further details call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail

The Cruise Examiner for 26th September 2011 – New Orders by TUI Cruises and Compagnie du Ponant – Other Cruise News: One Ocean Doubles Fleet – Happy Cruises Shuts Down – Cuba Cruise Delay

by Kevin Griffin

New Orders by TUI Cruises and Compagnie du Ponant  – Other Cruise News: One Ocean Doubles Fleet – Happy Cruises Shuts Down – Cuba Cruise Delay

Mein Schiff 2 in Hamburg before entering service this May

As European cruising continues to grow, last week saw reports of two orders for new ships for European owners, one for two rumoured 98,000-tonners from Finland for Germany’s TUI Cruises and a confirmed order from Compagnie du Ponant for another 10,700-tonner, third in a series, from Italy. Meanwhile, Canadian operator One Ocean Expeditions is doubling its fleet and will be operating two sister ships from November 2012. In the not so good news category come reports that Spain’s independent Happy Cruises is shutting down and that Cuba Cruise of Toronto has delayed its planned start-up of seven-day cruises from Havana with the Louis Cristal until December 2012. Seeing as Happy Cruises may not now be sending the Gemini to Havana for a second season of Cuban cruises this winter, the timing of the latter announcement seems rather unfortunate, coming as it did only four days before Happy Cruises shut down.


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One Ocean Expeditions Doubles Its Polar Adventure Fleet

One Ocean Expeditions (OOE) has announced that the highly regarded Akademik Sergey Vavilov will join her sister ship Akademik Ioffe as its second polar expedition vessel with effect from November 2012.

The Akademik Sergey Vavilov, seen here in icy Antarctic waters

Both ships were built  in Finland in the late 1980’s for the Russian Academy of Sciences.  They undertook hydro-acoustic research and are consequently extremely quiet, fast and stable ships, widely acknowledged as among the the best expedition vessels for difficult polar waters.

Andrew Prossin, who founded OOE in 2006, is a twenty-year veteran of both Antarctic and Arctic expeditions and has worked extensively with both vessels.

“This addition to our fleet was both necessary and timely for OOE. It is necessary because our 2011/12 season has almost completely sold out and we definitely need a second vessel. It is timely because the opportunity to take the Vavilov now puts us in a leading position with the two best expedition vessels in the world,” said Prossin.

With berths for 105 passengers, (but limited by OOE to 92) the Vavilov will initially be deployed in Antarctica, followed by the 2013 Arctic season. But first, the ship will be extensively refurbished. “The Vavilov is a great ship, and with the forthcoming improvement program we will have no trouble bringing her up to the high expectations of One Ocean Expeditions’ clients”, said Prossin.

Partial view of a typical twin cabin on the Akademik Sergey Vailov

“This is a terrific platform where we can offer an innovative expedition product and continue to hone the high levels of onboard guest services our clients have come to expect from us.” A major renovation is planned, including redecorated cabins, enhanced, modernised public areas and a wellness centre.

For further details of Arctic and Antarctic expeditions with One Ocean please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail

The Cruise Examiner for 19th September 2011 – After Private Islands, Do The New Cruise Ports Really Appeal? – Other Cruise News: The Fall of Far East Cruises – The Rise of Chinese Cruising

by Kevin Griffin

After Private Islands, Do The New Cruise Ports Really Appeal? – Other Cruise News: The Fall of Far East Cruises – The Rise of Chinese Cruising

Photograph of Falmouth court house by Brian Elliott Photography

In 1977, Norwegian Caribbean Lines, as Norwegian Cruise Line was then called, started a new trend when it opened its own private island at Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. Now, more than three decades later, cruise lines are opening their own new cruise ports at places such as Grand Turk, Costa Maya, Roatan and the newest, Falmouth, Jamaica, whose newly refurbished courthouse is shown here. We have a look at a recent Cruise Critic poll on the subject of these ports and the comments of Arthur Frommer. Meanwhile, the number of European cruise lines that have cancelled their 2011/12 Far East programs has now risen to three, with Classic International Cruises’ Funchal and Swan Hellenic’s Minerva undergoing major refits and Compagnie du Ponant withdrawing its Le Diamant. And Chinese owner Xiamen International Cruise has ordered China’s first cruise ship, and a 100,000-tonner at that.


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The Cruise Examiner for 13th September 2011 – The Great American Steamboat Company: Return of an Icon – Other Cruise News: Alaska Steady in 2011 – Louis Drops Genoa and Marseilles To Concentrate on Piraeus – Royal Caribbean’s New Chinese Joint Venture

by Kevin Griffin

The Great American Steamboat Company: Return of an Icon – Other Cruise News: Alaska Steady in 2011 – Louis Drops Genoa and Marseilles To Concentrate on Piraeus – Royal Caribbean’s New Chinese Joint Venture

The American Queen is powered by a steam-driven paddlewheel, assisted by two diesel Z-drives

As a new World Trade Center rises on the New York skyline, with opening scheduled for 2013, and the US is on its way to regaining its place as the world’s largest producer of oil in 2017, another great American icon is about to return, as the Great American Steamboat Company prepares to re-introduce the 436-passenger sternwheeler American Queen to cruising on the Mississippi River in 2012. Elsewhere, after a stinging loss of business in 2010, Alaska manages to hold its own in 2011, while Louis Cruises abandons Genoa and Marseilles in favour of Piraeus. And Royal Caribbean makes a deal with China World Cruises.


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The Cruise Examiner for 5th September 2011 – Three Ships In, One Out For UK’s Smaller Fleets – Other Cruise News: Minerva To Get An Upgrade – East of Aden for Voyages to Antiquity – Royal Caribbean Fails the Avis Test: Update

by Kevin Griffin

Three Ships In, One Out For UK’s Smaller Fleets – Minerva To Get An Upgrade – East of Aden for Voyages to Antiquity – Royal Caribbean Update

The Voyager has had balconies added and will join the Discovery at Voyages of Discovery

Last week was a big news week for the UK’s small to medium-size cruise ship lines, with announcements that both Voyages of Discovery and Noble Caledonia will be doubling their single-ship fleets, with the Voyager and Caledonian Sky, while Saga’s introduction of the Saga Sapphire will see its smallest ship, Spirit of Adventure, returning to the German market as FTI Berlin. Meanwhile, Voyages of Discovery’s sister line Swan Hellenic has announced plans for a major refurbishment of its Minerva, which will receive more balcony cabins, a forward-facing observation lounge and a new walk-around promenade one deck up from the new balcony cabins. Elsewhere, Voyages to Antiquity will be going year-round rather than seasonal in 2012/13 by adding winter itineraries to the Aegean Odyssey‘s program of summer Mediterranean cruises. And lastly, Royal Caribbean has done an about face on credits for the 130 passengers it left behind from the Serenade of the Seas last month in San Juan.


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The First Passenger Ship To Cross The Northern Sea Route – From Murmansk to the Russian Far East at Anadyr

Last Thursday we tweeted that the tanker Vladimir Tikhonov had just carried a commercial cargo of over 120,000 tonnes of gas condensate across Russia’s Northern Sea Route. This voyage was the first time ever a ship of this size,  over 160,000 tonnes deadweight (ice-class 1A), has transported a full consignment of the cargo using this route.

Today, the news is that Australian expedition-cruise company Aurora Expeditions has become one the first companies ever to complete Russia’s Northern Sea Route in an ice-strengthened passenger ship.

The chartered Russian vessel Akademik Shokalskiy, departed Murmansk with 50 passengers, 10 staff and 23 crew on August 10, taking 26 days to traverse Siberia’s vast north coast to Anadyr, and in the course of her voyage crossed nine time zones and six seas.

The Akademik Shokalskiy followed in the wake of the Swede, Baron Nils Nordenskjöld, who first succeeded in the steamship Vega in 1878, calling at numerous archipelagos, huge Siberian river deltas and isolated Eskimo villages, polar bear dens and a observing a treasure trove of Arctic wildlife. But while the Akademink Shokalskiy took 26 days, the Vega had been trapped for the winter and did not reach the Russian Far East until the following spring.

Only a privileged few have ever sailed through the Bering Strait and pack ice to Wrangel Island and explored the rugged scenery of the Siberian and Chuckchi coasts.

This inaugural voyage was Aurora Expeditions’ most adventurous in scope and duration, visiting places where few people have ever been.  Passengers also had the opportunity to visit militarily restricted Novaya Zemlya, name peaks on mountainous Severnaya Zemlya, make a midnight cruise around the Novosibirskie Islands, along with a special tour of polar bear haven and World-Heritage listed Wrangel Island.

Reaching 80 degrees north, the voyage offered attractions such as abandoned Russian polar stations and working meteorological huts, and passengers observed 10,000-year-old fossils of mammoth tusks and teeth, as well as housands of birds and hundreds of walrus, whales and polar bears.

Aurora Expeditions 2012 “Across the Northeast Passage” cruise has already sold out. For information on the 2013 Northeast Passage voyage or the 2012 Northwest Passage voyage with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises across the Canadian Arctic please call The Cruise People on 020 7723 2450  or email