German Chancellor Presides Over Crystal Endeavor Keel-Laying
By Anne Kalosh.
Crystal Endeavor may be a small ship but it caused a big splash in Germany as Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the Aug. 21 keel-laying festivities at MV Werften in Stralsund.
Merkel made her entry to the tune of “Gonna Fly Now” from “Rocky,” applauded by hundreds of shipyard workers in blue “Team Endeavor” shirts, upper management of Crystal Cruises and of its parent company, Genting Hong Kong, and international media.
Merkel said she’d seen renderings for Crystal Endeavor, “and I wish I could take a voyage on that vessel.” Crystal Endeavor, the chancellor added, is a great name. She wished the yard workers “good ideas and strong nerves” as they build the 20,000-gross-ton, ice-class luxury expedition yacht.
First New Build
This is the first new build for the Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises brand, which also operates the small, luxurious Crystal Esprit. Bookings have just opened for Crystal Endeavor, which will make its debut in August 2020, with voyages exploring Japan and the Russian Far East, New Zealand, Australia and Antarctica, as well as the Philippines, Borneo and Indonesia.
Merkel said it was an emotional day for her as she returned to her political home, Mecklenburg Vorpommern state in northern Germany. This is where Genting Hong Kong acquired three struggling shipyards in Stralsund, Wismar and Warnemünde for €230 million and pumped in €250 million to bring them up to the capability of building the latest generation cruise ships.
So far MV Werften has turned out four luxurious river vessels for Crystal River Cruises. A sister to Crystal Endeavor is due in 2021, followed by the first 65,000-gross-ton Crystal Diamond class ship for Crystal Cruises in 2022.
There was a strong sense of pride in Stralsund’s giant covered building hall as Merkel spoke. “People here in Stralsund will always do their best to create great value … We know how to compete. We are very proud in Mecklenburg Vorpommern and Germany and we want to make the label ‘Made in MV’ an attraction,” she said.
Historically, Germany has built a 25 percent share of the world’s cruise ships. Thanks to Genting Hong Kong’s investment, that will go up to a 35 percent share by 2020, according to Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman and CEO of Genting Hong Kong.
Merkel joined Lim, Mecklenburg Vorpommern Minister/President Manuela Schwesig, Crystal Cruises President and CEO Tom Wolber, and other officials to place “lucky” coins in the keel — 88 U.S. dollars and 88 euro coins, 8 being a lucky number in Asia. Then Merkel radioed a crane operator to begin lowering the 400-ton keel block into place.
As for the Chancellor’s wish to take a cruise on Crystal Endeavor, “I’ll make room for her,” Wolber said.
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