by Kevin Griffin writing for cybercruises.com
The Daily Mirror’s Captain Greybeard, otherwise known as John Honeywell, seems to have been the first to have noticed that Crystal Cruises’ ambitious expansion plans are being slowed down.
Captain Greybeard blog for the Mirror
Crystal River Cruises was the first to delay its launch in France with Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel, which were originally due to travel the Seine, Rhone and Dordogne beginning in June and August 2017. Instead, there will now be four newly-built river yachts on the Danube, Main and Rhine.
The Crystal river yacht vessels Debussy and Ravel (Artist concepts courtesy of Crystal Cruises)
The change means a redesign for the yachts that were intended for France. The increased length will allow for the addition of a swimming pool with a sliding glass roof and more of the ship’s larger suites, which range in size up to 759 sq ft.
Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler, in the line’s 106-guest Rhine-class series, are due to enter service June 18 and August 29 2017 respectively. Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel will now follow in April 2018 and May 2018.
While work progresses on what will be six new river ships, he arrival of the line’s first new expedition ship and the first 1,000-passenger Exclusive-class ship have been also deferred.
Crystal Endeavor (Artist concept, courtesy Crystal Cruises)
Polar expedition ship Crystal Endeavour was scheduled for August 2018 but will not now appear until 2019. Meanwhile, there are hints that Endeavour will be joined by another expedition vessel.
The Exclusive class ship has already been postponed by a year from late 2018 and has now been put back two more years, to 2021, and there is no word on when her promised two sister ships will be completed.
The announcement was made by Colin Au, founding president of Genting HK, which bought Crystal in 2014, during a visit to the German shipyards bought by the company to carry out the Crystal expansion and to build vessels for China-based Dream Cruises.
Crystal Exclusive (Artist concepts courtesy of Crystal Cruises)
Plans for Crystal Luxury Air have also been pared back, and the order for a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to carry 100 guests in first-class luxury has been cancelled.
But designs for the surviving Boeing 777, expected to take to the skies in 12 months’ time, show a restaurant area complete with dining tables separate from the accommodation. The 777 will carry 84 guests on round-the-world air cruises of 14, 21, or 28 days.
Elsewhere in the Genting empire, its casinos in Asia are not minting as much money due to an economic slowdown in the region and increased measures by the Chinese government to prevent money laundering. Its main casinos in Malaysia and the Philippines have also suffered from large falls in the local currencies.
Genting Hong Kong meanwhile also has to pay for two large and expensive Dream class cruise ships and two more Star ships. These will enter an increasingly uncertain Chinese cruise market, where, a flood of new ships being built for the market is pushing the pricing levels downwards.
Genting is wise to be cautious however. Although the terrorist attacks of 2001 are usually blamed for its demise, American Classic Voyages failed in part because of an overly ambitious expansion plan that involved two new cruise ships for Hawaii, a new coastal cruise line and a second cruise line for Hawaii.
R6 (Currently Azamara Journey)
Others who grew too quickly were Fearnley & Eger (Renaissance 1) and Renaissance Cruises (Renaissance 2), which each introduced eight new ships into the market in rapid succession.
And closer to home there was Genting’s own massive expansion of Norwegian Cruise Line post-acquisition that saw the company load up with debt levels that resulted in them selling the controlling interest of the company at a 50% discount to Apollo and the new owners having to re-capitalise to the tune of $1 billion.
According to one observer, the price tag for Crystal’s expansion plus the cost of acquisition has now passed the $4 billion mark.
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