Farewell Crystal Cruises, the line that brought an exemplary level of service to the high seas

Newest ship: Crystal Endeavor in London (Picture: Dave Monk)

Crystal Cruises is no longer. The brand that signified quality, luxury and excellent service is in the hands of liquidators, its offices closed, its assets up for sale and its former employees and crew left looking for work.

The line’s two ocean ships – Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony – as well as new expedition vessel Crystal Endeavor and five riverboats have been seized by creditors. Hopes that a new buyer will take over the whole fleet appear to have been dashed, despite the former owner of Silversea saying he has made two bids.

Seven years ago Crystal Cruises – part of the Genting Hong Kong group – announced a major expansion. As well as river cruises, a yacht and a private plane, the line was going to introduce three new 1,000-passenger polar ships.

Crystal Serenity: I once named it as my favourite ship (Picture: Crystal Cruises)

The following year, it announced that the proposed 200-passenger expedition vessel Crystal Endeavor would be joined by two sister ships.

Gradually, these future plans were scaled back to just Crystal Endeavor and one larger Diamond-class ship. Then even the Diamond class disappeared from the order books.

When I boarded Crystal Endeavor in London last September, the future for the line was looking muddled. In July the MD, Walter Littlejohn, had been forced to deny the river ships were up for sale. The yacht, Crystal Esprit, was then sold to Lindblad Expeditions.

There was talk of Crystal Cruises managing and operating new ships based on Crystal Endeavor for hotel brands. It was also considering building a new class of 2,000-passenger ships for the hotel groups but a spokesperson said the discussions had not been ‘finalised’.

Crystal Ravel: The line also ran a fleet of river ships (Picture: Crystal Cruises)

However, with a shiny new expedition ship, the line was outwardly optimistic about its post-pandemic future.

On January 19 this year Crystal Cruises suspended ocean sailings until April 29 and river cruises until the end of May but, in a moving interview with Seatrade News, the line’s former president Jack Anderson announced yesterday that the company was over, adding: ‘We didn’t even get to say goodbye to each other.’

For past guests like me – I once publicly named Crystal Serenity as my favourite ship – it is sad to see such an exemplary brand end its history this way.

For many employees and crew, this will be a financial, as well as emotional, upheaval.

It’s their contribution that made Crystal Cruises so outstanding. And it’s with them my thoughts are today.

See also:

From Venice to Monte Carlo on Crystal Serenity

Crystal unveils luxury ‘river yachts’

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