Quark Expeditions' Ultramarine new ship for 2020

New Ships of 2020

By Anne Kalosh.

For small-ship lovers, a bevy of oceangoing new builds are set to enter service this year. Of the 23 vessels joining the global ocean cruise fleet, a hefty 11 are small enough to be QuirkyCruise size (carrying up to 300 passengers).

In addition to these 11 will be many new river vessels and a few new coastal ships — so plenty of choices for travelers seeking the latest and greatest but not the biggest!

New Ships of 2020: Ritz-Carlton

One of the year’s most-anticipated ships is the first to be associated with a luxury hotel brand. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection was due to introduce the luxurious, 298-passenger Evrima early this year. However, it has been delayed to mid-June because of issues at the shipyard, Spain’s Hijos de J. Barreras.

Designed as a yacht inside and out, Evrima promises to be a beauty when completed, with its cascade of open decks aft, a marina and spacious suites and lounges. Dining experiences will include Southeast Asian small plates, an alfresco seafood bar/steak grill, a marina spot and a restaurant by three-star Michelin chef Sven Elverfeld of Aqua at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg.

Evrima is one of 2020's new builds

Evrima has a cascade of open decks aft, ending in a marina. * Rendering: The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Evirmas' indoor-outdoor Marina Lounge

Evirma’s indoor-outdoor Marina Lounge. * Rendering: The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Pool deck on Evirma, one of the new ships for 2020

Evrima’s main pool deck, aft. * Rendering: The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

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New Ships of 2020: Expedition Ships

The expedition cruising boom continues, with nine new ships that are Quirky-sized coming in 2020. Among them are the first blue-water expedition newbuilds for several owners: Lindblad ExpeditionsNational Geographic Endurance, Crystal Expedition CruisesCrystal Endeavor, Quark Expeditions Ultramarine and Silversea Cruises’ Silver Origin for the Galápagos.

RELATED: Lindblad goes carbon neutral.

Named in honor of Ernest Shackleton, Endurance sports the patented X-BOW design with its distinctive inverted bow, for better seakeeping. Expanded fuel and water tanks allow for long-range operations, while a Polar Class 5 rating enables exploration in icy areas.

The 126-passenger ship has Scandinavian-style interiors and lots of glass for great views. Each of the 13 extra-large balcony suites is named for a polar explorer.

National Geographic Endurance's X-bow

National Geographic Endurance has an inverted X-BOW design for better seakeeping. * Rendering: Lindblad Expeditions

National Geographic Endurance large suite

Each of the 13 extra-large balcony suites is named for a polar explorer. * Rendering: Lindblad Expeditions

The all-suite Crystal Endeavor will emulate luxury brand Crystal’s hallmarks, including butler service, the Palm Court and specialty restaurants Prego for Italian fare and Umi Uma for sushi and dishes from master chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Additionally, the two-story Solarium pool deck will house the Asian-inspired Silk Kitchen & Bar during the evenings.

Below the Crystal Endeavour is “rolled out” of the covered building dock December 21. 

The 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor has a Polar Class 6 rating and will carry two helicopters and a pair of seven-person submarines.

Crystal Endeavor is one of the new ships for 2020

Crystal Endeavor will sail to the world’s far reaches, including the polar areas. * Rendering: Crystal Expedition Cruises

One of 2020 news builds is Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Endeavor’s versatile Solarium transforms into a dinner venue by night. * Rendering: Crystal Expedition Cruises

Ultramarine is designed for polar operations, Quark’s specialty. It will have an exceptional 70-day operational range and equipment for heli-hiking and heli-skiing, along with kayaks, paddle boards and Zodiacs. The 200-passenger Ultramarine will come with six suites for solo travelers.

Quark Expeditions' Ultramarine new ship for 2020

Ultramarine is Quark Expeditions’ first owned new build. * Rendering: Quark Expeditions

Silver Origin is purpose-built for the Galápagos, with an Explorer Lounge for expedition briefings and Basecamp, an elegant space with a large, interactive digital wall that connects with the Zodiac embarkation area.

This 100-passenger ship has lavish all-suite accommodations, some with sea-view bathtubs and showers, a new feature for Silversea. (Peek-a-boo, boobies!)

new ship Silver Origin

Silver Origin is built for the Galápagos. * Rendering: Silversea Cruises

New Ships of 2020: Continuing Series

French line Ponant continues its Explorers series with Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier, distinguished by their sleek, superyacht profiles and a marina platform with three positions, for use as a sun deck, as a launch pad for water sports and as the Zodiac embarkation point.

Each 184-passenger ship also contains the distinctive underwater lounge Blue Eye.

RELATED: Ponant & Backroads adventure in New Zealand

Ponant's new ships for 2020

Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier will sport Ponant’s distinctive Blue Eye underwater lounge. * Photo @L.Patricot

Portugal’s Mystic Cruises adds its second 200-passenger new build, World Voyager, which has features like an Observation Lounge topped by a glass dome for stargazing and a lighted glass well that looks down into the sea. Heated seats on the bow add a Mercedes-like touch and comfort for travelers spending extended time outdoors in the cold to view wildlife.

World Voyager is a new ship in 2020 for Mystic Cruises

World Voyager is second in a series of a planned 10 ships. * Rendering: Mystic Cruises

World Voyager is a new ship for 2020

World Voyager has an Observation Lounge with a glass dome to the sky and a glass well looking down into the sea. * Photo: Mystic Cruises

SunStone Ships continues building in China with expedition ship Ocean Victory. It will be chartered by Denmark’s Albatros Expeditions for the Antarctica season and by Victory Cruise Lines for Alaska as this U.S. brand branches into expedition sailings for the first time.

Ocean Victory has capacity for 186 passengers. It uses the X-BOW design and is built to Polar Class 6 standard.

Ocean Victory is a new ship in 2020 for Victory Cruise Lines

Ocean Victory’s lounges include a spacious library. * Rendering: Victory Cruise Lines

The new ship Ocean Victory

Ocean Victory’s elegant dining room. * Rendering: Victory Cruise Lines

Australia’s Coral Expeditions follows up 2019’s Coral Adventurer with a near twin, Coral Geographer. The 120-passenger ship will provide four more bridge deck suites (six total) featuring bathrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and an infinity bathtub with sky views.

Though Coral Geographer is scheduled for delivery in late 2020, it actually begins sailing the Indian Ocean in early 2021.

the new ship Coral Geographer

Coral Geographer will debut with sailings to remote islands of the Indian Ocean. * Rendering: Coral Expeditions

The new ship Coral Geographer is a stunner

Coral Geographer has six of these roomy bridge deck balcony suites. * Rendering: Coral Expeditions

New Ships of 2020: Classic Sailing Vessel

One of the year’s more unusual small ships is a classic sailing yacht. The three-masted Sea Cloud Spirit of Sea Cloud Cruises will turn heads with its 4,100 square meters/44,100 square feet of sails.

Of the 69 ocean-view cabins, 25 have their own balconies. An elevator will connect the five decks. A fine dining restaurant and a casual dining experience on the lido deck are planned. Sea Cloud Spirit will have a wellness/spa venue, too.

RELATED: Sea Cloud II Cruise to the Canary Islands & Morocco 

Sea Cloud Spirit

Sea Cloud Spirit — a classic yacht style and tons of sails. * Rendering: Sea Cloud Cruises

Sea Cloud Spirit rendering

Shaded deck space on sailing ship Sea Cloud Spirit. * Rendering: SeaCloud Cruises

Fellow sailing ship specialist Star Clippers had been set to introduce Flying Clipper, a replica of the largest square-rigged tall ship ever built, in 2019. The vessel was completed and ready for handing over, according to Croatia’s Brodosplit yard. However, a dispute with Star Clippers drags on in arbitration, leaving Flying Clipper in limbo.

RELATED: Star Clippers in Thailand, This Cruise Rocks

QuirkyCruise Review



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German Chancellor Presides Over Crystal Endeavor Keel-Laying

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.

German Chancellor Presides Over Crystal Endeavor Keel-Laying

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mecklenburg Vorpommern Minister President Manuela Schwesig place lucky coins. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

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.

German Chancellor Presides Over Crystal Endeavor Keel-Laying

A rendering of the Crystal Endeavor.

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.

German Chancellor Presides Over Crystal Endeavor Keel-Laying

Chancellor Angela Merkel with MV Werften interns at the Crystal Endeavor keel-laying. * Photo: Anne Kalosh

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.

German Chancellor Presides Over Crystal Endeavor Keel-Laying

The Crystal Endeavor builder’s plate. * Photo: Anne Kalosh


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Q&A with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises' Mark Spillane

Q&A with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises’ Mark Spillane

By Anne Kalosh.

Q&A with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises' Mark Spillane

Mark Spillane, manager, sales & marketing, Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises. spoke with Mark Spillane, Manager, Sales & Marketing, for Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises. This was the first brand extension after Crystal Cruises was acquired by Genting Hong Kong, which also owns Asia’s Star Cruises and Dream Cruises. Under Genting’s ownership, Crystal began operating the luxurious yacht Crystal Esprit and is building the 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor, to enter service in 2020. Two more expedition new builds are planned.


QC: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Mark Spillane: I worked at Silversea, another luxury cruise line, for three years and came to Crystal last year. I’m fortunate to have the expedition background from Silversea, and Crystal Endeavor will be our first expedition yacht. There’s a lot that goes into that, and having that insight is great to make sure we offer our guests a true luxury experience.


QC: What are your responsibilities?

Mark Spillane: I oversee a lot of different departments. My main focus is sales and marketing, but I do sit on the itinerary planning team and I work closely with the on-board team to see if there are things we could be doing shore-side to further enhance our product.


QC: Have you sailed Crystal Esprit? What’s it like?

Mark Spillane: Twice, in the West Indies. One of my favorite things starts right when guests get to Esprit, the embarkation process. Typically, on a cruise ship you arrive at a terminal and go through security, and you may have a line — not so much with Crystal. But with Esprit, you arrive and are greeted in the reception area with a glass of champagne by one of our staff members and walked to your suite, which is ready for you. The staff member checks you in on an ipad, and that’s the extent of the process. So you’re left to enjoy the ship or the port of call.


Crystal Esprit’s marina is stocked with water sports ‘toys.’ * Photo: Crystal Yacht Expeditions Cruises


QC: Tell us about an adventure you had on board.

Mark Spillane: Saba’s a unique port in the West Indies. It’s not that typical beach experience. It’s a marine park. Not many cruise ships go there, and there are fewer than 2,000 people on the island. It’s a big mountain. When you wake up in the morning, we’re anchored right up against the island and you look out and see the dramatic landscape. There we offer a hiking adventure and it is true hiking for those who enjoy that physical adventure. It’s about a three-hour hike, which ends at a hotel on the other side of the island, where guests can have a beverage or two. From there a transfer takes them back to the ship. It’s a real adventure experience. It’s not paved. You’re hiking through the mountains and you have the canopy overlay of all the trees and you see the wildlife.


QC: What’s the dining like on Esprit, and which is your favorite dining spot?

Mark Spillane: The cuisine on board is superb. The executive chef puts out the sublime and a work of art, each dish. What you can do when you only have 62 guests on board is à la minute preparation of each dish. We even have an on-board pastry chef for our breads and desserts. That seems to be what really sticks with the guests. From their perspective, and mine as well, it’s the best food they’ve had, on land or sea. We like to call it Michelin-inspired cuisine.

I love to dine alfresco. On Esprit we have the patio grill and it’s typically open all day for fresh fish, salads, wraps, burgers. We have a great fritto misto, usually shrimp, calamari and some vegetables. It’s a phenomenal place to dine when you’re heading back from an excursion. You freshen up and head up to sunset deck and enjoy lunch while you’re anchored in these beautiful harbors around the world.


QC: Tell us about the service.

Mark Spillane: The crew on board is really what sets esprit apart, and that’s what we look to bring to Endeavor. On Esprit we have 90 crew for just 62 guests and that leads to this perfect balance of professionalism and camaraderie. You quickly become a family, not only with the fellow guests but with the crew. They come to know you, your likes and your dislikes. They have things prepared for you. For example, I sleep with three pillows. They picked up on that. So the next day, when they made up the bed, there were three pillows on one side. All these little details that you don’t even tell them, they pick up on.


QC: Who cruises on Esprit?

Mark Spillane: People who want an adventure. We don’t typically offer sea days on Esprit. There are some, but for most itineraries you’re in port every day. You’re up in the morning, going on hikes or kayaking. We have jet skis. It’s an active experience. So that typically means in the evenings, it dies down a little sooner because guests are going to bed because they’re preparing for the next day’s adventure.

Q&A with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises' Mark Spillane

Crystal Esprit provides an active experience, including water toys. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

For Crystal, Esprit has the youngest demographic of all our ships. The average age is 56, 57. They’re working professionals who have had success. They don’t have a long time to take off, so our itineraries are shorter, seven to 10 days. We offer free, unlimited Wi-fi on board, so they can still be connected if they need to work.

It’s also typically more international guests. And it’s good for multigenerational families. I met a family consisting of two teen-age boys, two adult couples and the grandparent, and this was their third time on the Esprit. This was the only Crystal experience they’ve had, and that’s what we find: it brings in new-to-Crystal guests and they absolutely love it. As that family grows, they can grow into river and ocean ships as well.


QC: It sounds like you should be somewhat fit to sail on the Esprit?

Mark Spillane: There is no elevator on Crystal Esprit so guests have to climb the stairs between the decks, and climb into and out of the Zodiacs and tenders as needed. And children under 6 aren’t allowed on the tenders, so Esprit is really for older kids.


QC: How far ahead do people need to book?

Mark Spillane: For this summer in the Adriatic, we just have a couple of suites still available. In 2019, we have plenty of availability at this point for the Adriatic. Guests who want to experience the West Indies this winter should definitely look into it now because we just announced that in fourth quarter 2019, we’ll be in Dubai. So for our current itinerary set, this coming November will be the last season, for now, in the West Indies.


QC: Esprit launched in the Seychelles. You’ve really been expanding itineraries. What’s hot?

Mark Spillane: When we had our last season in the Seychelles, at the end, when we went to the Adriatic, we were sold out. The Esprit is all about offering options to our guests, and many of them do return so we’re trying to offer as many unique destinations as we can.

We have a great Holy Land sailing with some great ports in Israel and it’s really selling very well, I think because it’s unique, and Esprit has never offered something like this. It’s only one voyage. We don’t plan on offering it again in 2019, possibly in 2020. It depends on where the ship goes from the Seychelles.


QC: How much do the cruises cost?

Mark Spillane: The West Indies cruises tend to be priced at about $4,500 per person, double occupancy, for the week. The Adriatic tends to be slightly more, around $5,500 per person for the week. And that’s all-inclusive, so transfers are included if you fly in and out on the days of embarkation and debarkation, wi-fi is included, and beverages. Really the only extra costs on the esprit are our submersible experience and optional shore excursions. We typically offer two shore excursions in each port, included in the price. One is more active, like the hike in Saba. The other is a panoramic city tour for those who don’t want to be as active. We do offer a handful of optional shore excursions that guests can purchase for an additional charge.


QC: Tell us about some of the included excursions.

Mark Spillane: In St. Bart’s we have a catamaran. It’s a really nice way to see this chic French island. We take our guests on a tour around the island, then we anchor in a bay where there’s a beach. Guests can snorkel, there are water noodles. They can enjoy the water and the beach. We serve light hors d’oeuvres and beverages on board. Then we sail back to the ship.

We have exclusive rights to Moskito Island [Richard Branson’s private hideaway in the British Virgin Islands] during our calls. It’s a great beach day. We do a fun wet landing, bring our guests to the beach in Zodiacs and they hop out. We do a beach barbecue. We have sun-loungers, everything down to the details of sunscreen and bug spray, should you need it. I’ve been there; there’s actually no mosquitoes. We bring all our water toys, kayaks and snorkeling gear for our guests to use. It’s a peaceful retreat.

We have a wider speedboat and we offer a complimentary champagne cruise on that for our guests. We do need permission from the local port authorities to use the wider so it’s not offered in every port, but typically once per sailing. It’s a fun experience.

Q&A with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises' Mark Spillane

A ride in Crystal Esprit’s submersible costs extra but makes for a great adventure. * Photo: Crystal Expeditions


QC: Have you gone on the submersible?

Mark Spillane: I have, and it’s an absolutely phenomenal experience. For those who may not be scuba divers and haven’t had the experience of going under the water, it is quite surreal because you’re almost surrounded by glass. I did it in St. Kitts and there’s a shipwreck right off the coast that you visit. It’s so unique to see something like that up close. Of course you have marine life swimming around. It’s surreal to be in this bubble that’s comfortable and air-conditioned. It’s driven by the Esprit’s vice captain. It’s usually about a 30-minute experience and the cost varies. In the west indies, it’s currently $599 per person, and in the Adriatic it’s currently $350 per person.


QC: Turning to your new build, Crystal Endeavor, what excites you most about it?

Mark Spillane: The space. The expedition market is really booming now, and we’re starting to see new builds for luxury expeditions, which have been missing in that segment. The Endeavor will be almost 20,000 gross tons and will only have a hundred suites and 200 guests. So that really offers the space to have all the amenities the Crystal guest has come to expect and that includes a full spa, sauna and gym. These types of amenities aren’t offered on expedition ships. We can take this amazing Crystal experience that’s been perfected, and our loyal followers love, to the ends of the earth. We can take it to those bucket-list destinations that our guests haven’t had the opportunity to go to, in Crystal luxury.


Crystal Endeavor’s solarium by day. * Photo: Crystal Cruises


QC: Is it a real expedition?

Mark Spillane: Yes, we will have expedition leaders on board, a fleet of Zodiacs as well as water toys and equipment that we’ll be able to talk about in the near future. And we’ll be going to true, off-the-beaten path, unspoiled destinations, including the arctic and the antarctic.


QC: When will you announce the itineraries?

Mark Spillane: The itineraries for Crystal Endeavor are going to be announced today on July 31. Bookings will open to past passengers (Crystal Society members) on Aug. 8 and to the public on Aug. 22.


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By Anne Kalosh.

Expedition yacht CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR will have the same luxury standard and many of the restaurants and lounges Crystal Cruises loyalists know and love.

It will also house the only casino on an expedition ship.

The all-suite, 200-passenger CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR measures 19,800 gross tons and is set to debut in 2020 as Crystal’s first expedition new build.

CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR will hold to the dining standard offered on all Crystal ocean, yacht and river vessels, with all-inclusive dining, fine wines and premium spirits throughout.

Specialty restaurants include Prego for traditional Italian fare (and on CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR it also will host Crystal’s Vintage Room winemaker dinners) and Umi Uma for sushi and specialties from master chef Nobu Matsuhisa. As well, the yacht will have main dining venue Waterside and the Asian-inspired Silk Kitchen & Bar, located in the two-story, glass-enclosed solarium pool deck during the evenings.

New Expedition Yacht Crystal Endeavor

Even Nobu Matsuhisa’s Asian cuisine will be aboard Crystal Endeavor, in restaurant Umi Uma. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

Plus, besides being the go-to spot for freshly brewed espresso and teas, the European-inspired Bistro Café will serve full breakfast and lunch.

Palm Court, a favorite place for afternoon tea, cocktails, dancing and floor-to-ceiling views aboard Crystal’s ocean and river ships, will be aboard CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR for evening entertainment, enrichment presentations and classes. Other familiar social spaces are the Connoisseur Club cigar lounge and Crystal Cove, the heart of the ship where passengers will gather for guest speakers, pre-dinner cocktails and late-night entertainment.

New Expedition Yacht Crystal Endeavor

Palm Court, a favorite Crystal lounge, will be aboard expedition ship Crystal Endeavor. * Photo : Crystal Cruises

Further venues include the Captain’s Lounge, the Expedition Lounge, the Helicopter Lounge and the Library. The Promenade will stretch from Crystal Cove to Waterside, making a more intimate space for cocktails, conversation and views. Additionally, Crystal’s boutiques Apropos and Facets will sell designer goods and fine jewelry.

New Expedition Yacht Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Endeavor’s Helicopter Lounge. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

A fully equipped fitness center and the Crystal Life Spa/Salon will come with three treatment rooms, separate men’s and women’s steam and sauna facilities, a relaxation room and full-service salon.

New Expedition Yacht Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Endeavor’s solarium by day. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

Mudrooms will provide a place to gear up for the day’s adventures and clean boots and equipment upon return from exploring ashore.

New Expedition Yacht Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Endeavor’s mudrooms will provide space to gear up and clean boots. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR ’s Polar Class 6 designation will enable operations in summer and autumn through medium first-year ice. The ship will have dynamic positioning capabilities, too, meaning that it can stay in place without dropping anchor, important when sailing over sensitive areas like coral reefs.

New Expedition Yacht Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Endeavor will have a Polar Class 6 rating. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

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Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises

Articles About Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises

Q&A with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises' Mark Spillane
Q&A with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises' Mark Spillane By Anne Kalosh. spoke with Mark Spillane, Manager, Sales & Marketing, ...
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By Anne Kalosh. Getting up close to nature and wildlife is one of the many thrills of small ship cruising ...
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By Anne Kalosh. Expedition yacht CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR will have the same luxury standard and many of the restaurants and lounges ...
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New Generation Expedition Ships
By Sasha Wodtke, Heidi Sarna & Ted Scull. 20 Next Generation Expedition Ships in the Pipeline for 2018-2020 In recent ...
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Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises

Since it was founded in 1990, Crystal Cruises has been a beloved high-end line, with ships in the 800- to 1,000-passenger range, twice the size of the ships of near-peers Silversea, Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas. Crystal’s strength has always been their wide scope of dining choices (with Asian and Italian specialty restaurants before everyone else jumped on that boat) and activities (offering onboard computer workshops before such things were popular). They have also always excelled in their lecture program, with most cruises featuring numerous experts giving talks about the destination as well as other topics. Now with its Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises brand,  Crystal is taking what it does best and adapting it to a small upscale expedition-style ship called CRYSTAL ESPRIT, the focus of this review. It was built in 1989 and then purchased by Star Cruises in 1994 and known as the MEGASTAR TAURUS (a private vessel for Star’s parent company Genting’s high-roller casino clients) until its recent conversion to ESPRIT.

Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises

The 62-passenger Crystal Esprit. * Photo: Crystal

In mid 2015, Crystal was bought by Genting Hong Kong and soon after in a series of announcements outlined a new chapter for the company, an aggressive expansion program that months later was watered down. Currently, the new offerings include the 62-passenger expedition-style ESPRIT, which debuted in the Seychelles in December 2015, and for now three river “yachts,” including a pair of brand new vessels that launched in 2017: the 110-passenger CRYSTAL BACH and CRYSTAL MAHLER to cruise the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers (two more new river yachts are planned for 2018 and another pair at an unspecified date). The 158-passenger CRYSTAL MOZART river yacht (a 1987-built ship formerly operated by Peter Deilmann and TUI Cruises) debuted for Crystal in Europe in July 2016. Click here for more details on Crystal River Cruises.

To join the ESPRIT, Crystal launched the 200-passenger CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR in the summer of 2019.  Down the road, Crystal wants to build a trio of new 1,000-passenger luxury ships to sail in polar regions; they’ve changed their target date several times, and are currently shooting for a 2022 launch.

New Generation Expedition Ships

Rendering of the 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor. * Rendering: Crystal Cruises

Ship, Year Delivered & Passengers

CRYSTAL ESPRIT (built 1989 & 62 passengers); CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR (b. 2019 & 200 p)

Passenger Profile

Well-to-do couples 40s on up, with some senior singles and families during summers and holidays, from North America mainly, plus a sprinkling from the UK, Europe and Asia. Many have cruised on Crystal’s larger ships.

Passenger Decks

4 (no elevators)


$$  Expensive

Included Features

Just about everything — wine, spirits, soft drinks, tips, watersports, one excursion in every port, WiFi (an hour a day), self-serve laundry, butler service, and 24-hour in-room dining from the restaurant menu.


Winters, 7-night Seychelles Islands round-trip from Mahe, Seychelles, calling on St. Anne Island; La Passe, la Digue Island; Baie Ste. Anne, Praslin Island; Laraie Bay, Curieuse Island; Anse Saint Jose, Curieuse Island; Cousin Island; Aride Island; Big Sister Island; and Desroches Island. These cruises are packaged with a 2-night hotel stay in Dubai before the cruise.

  • Spring, Summer and Fall, 7-night Adriatic Sea between or round-trip from mostly Venice, Dubrovnik and/or Athens, with various combinations of ports that may include Rovinj, Sibenik, Trogir, Vis, Hvar, Split, Zadar, Opatija, and Korcula, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Piran, Slovenia; and Corfu, Parga, Itea, Hydra, and Navplion, Greece. Each of the 7-night cruises can be combined with the following one to create a 14-night cruise without repeating ports.
  • December, 9-, 10- and 11-night Middle East round-trip from Dubai, calling on Khasab and Muscat, Oman; Doha, Qatar; and Sir Bani Yas Island and Abu Dhabi, UAB.
  • CRYSTAL ENDEAVOUR entered service in mid-summer 2019 with initial expedition cruises in Japan and the Russian Far East, Indonesia, Borneo, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, including the Ross Sea, and Antarctica from Ushuaia where it will operate will the highest ice classification for an expedition cruise vessel. In August 2021, the ship will undertake a 28-night westward voyage via the Northeast Passage. The new ship’s amenities include two helicopters and two 7-passenger submarines.
When to Go?

ESPRIT does its Europe cruises in the summer and the Middle East/Africa itineraries in the winter months.


Most of the rooms on the all-suite ship are 280-square-foot Yacht Suites with a queen-size bed, small sitting area with a sofa bed (can be used for a third passenger), full-height hanging closet, and very nice bathrooms with double sinks, rain showers and natural stone flooring. The single 515-sq. ft owner’s suite has a separate dining room with four-seat dining table. None of the suites have balconies and none are wheelchair accessible. There are two self-service laundry rooms.

Public Rooms

The Cove Lounge is the yacht’s main entertainment spot, where you can watch a movie or live sporting event by day, and in the evening enjoy a drink while a piano player/singer provides background music. There’s a mini casino and the lovely outdoor Sunset Bar on Deck 5 speaks for itself. There’s a small pool and two hot tubs on Deck 5, as well as a steam room, sauna and a small gym with a treadmill, exercise bike, elliptical machines, Kinesis machines and free weights. You’ll find a micro spa/salon on Deck 3.

Crystal Yacht Cruises

Crystal Endeavour’s solarium transforms into an evening dining venue. * Photo: Crystal Yacht Cruises


Four venues include The Yacht Club restaurant, which is the ship’s main dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner; menus incorporate local ingredients in many dishes. It has large windows and a chic color scheme of steel greys and sharp blues, and tables are set with Riedel crystal, fine china and French linens. Seating is open and there are lots of tables for two. The adjacent outdoor Patio Café at the stern offers great views and waiter-served light meals at breakfast and lunch, when you can choose from interesting salads, cold cuts, cheese and pastries. On Deck 5 near the pool during the day,The Grill offers burgers, wraps and international “street food” reflecting the itinerary. The Compass Room is a small reservations-only specialty dining venue for wine and food pairings, ideal for private parties. Grazers can always stop by the Pantry, a self-serve pit stop on Deck 2 open 24 hours a day with light food and drinks.

Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises

The Esprit’s open seating Yacht Club Restaurant. * Photo: Crystal

Activities & Entertainment

An ESPRIT cruise is meant to be active and adventurous (note, there are no elevators on the ship), with adult toys including a two-passenger submarine, four 10-passenger zodiacs for special excursions, and a 12-passenger Wider 32-foot yacht tender for special boating adventures (all complimentary except for sub).  Watersports equipment is carried on board and easily accessible from the stern marina, from water skis to wake boards, kayaks, jet skis, fishing, and snorkel equipment. There are also a few bicycles passengers can use in port. On the cerebral side, on some cruises destination experts will be on board to present talks. Evenings, it’s drinks and chat with fellow guests.

Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises

Crystal Espirit’s stern marina for watersports and Zodiac access. * Photo: Crystal

Along the Same Lines

SeaDream Yacht Club.


Crystal Cruises, 11755 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 900, Los Angeles, CA 90025; 1-310-785-9300 or


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