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Crystal Cruises, with new owners, expands luxury offerings


First step in Crystal's expansion: Crystal Esprit luxury yacht sails this December.      Photo: Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises, presently a two-ship, all-luxury line is planning a burst of expansion in every direction, with plans to add more ships, river cruisers, yacht-size  cruisers and even a 787 for round-the-world air cruises. All luxury, of course.

The plans will turn Crystal from a slow-growing operator to one of the fastest. It's being powered by Crystal's new owners, gambling and resort giant Genting, which took over earlier this year. Genting is also a significant investor in other cruise companies, including Norwegian Cruise Line.

The company just signed a letter of intent for three more ocean cruisers, with all-suite accommodations for 1,000 passengers. The suites will be nearly twice the size of those on previous luxury ships. The three ships will also be equipped to carry helicopters and mini-submarines, and will have hulls designed for Arctic or Antarctic cruising.

As if that weren't enough, company president Edie Rodriguez also announced that the company will  operate two luxury river cruisers in Europe starting in 2017, under the name Crystal River Cruises. Since so many of  the existing river cruisers are at the luxury end of  the scale, they've picked a tough act to follow.

On the small-ship front, Crystal is setting up Crystal Yacht Cruises, starting this December, with one  ship...but what a ship! The 62-passenger Crystal Esprit will carry all sorts of "water toys" including zodiacs, jet skis and a 2-person submarine (which Rodriguez says  could be used for  underwater weddings).

And, in the icing-on-the-cake category (or possibly the are-you-sure-you-can-handle-all-this category), the company plans to buy a 787 and operate luxury 28-day round-the-world itineraries, stopping at luxury resorts along the way. The plane would have 60 seats, compared to the usual approximately 300. No date announced.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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