Crystal Cruises Cancels Plans for Shipboard Residences
Genting Hong Kong's Crystal Cruises will be downsizing its three ambitious "Exclusive" class boutique cruse ships, and will remove the private luxury residences that would have occupied the original design's top deck. Their delivery - initially scheduled for 2018, then pushed back to 2019 - is now set for 2022.
The future class of luxury cruise ships was announced in 2015, shortly after Genting acquired Crystal from NYK. Each of the ice-classed vessels would have had space for 1,000 passengers, including the owners of the ultra-high-end "Crystal Residences" - 48 high-end condominiums at sea, ranging from 600 to 4000 square feet each. As of Thursday, the website advertising the residences had been removed and replaced with Crystal's home page.
According to a recent report, the Exclusive class will be renamed the "Diamond Class" and reduced in size from 100,000 gt to 65,000 gt, with 800 passengers instead of 1,000, reflecting a 20 percent reduction in the tonnage-to-passenger ratio. New Crystal Cruises CEO Thomas Wolber recently told Travel Weekly that the first iteration of the ship's design was "slightly aggressive" for a luxury brand.
Genting-owned Lloyd Werft has contracted to build the Exclusive class (now Diamond class) vessels. Genting also purchased three smaller German yards in 2016 in order to secure capacity for its growing orderbook, and it has invested heavily in upgrading them to meet the demands of cruise ship construction. The yards - unified under the MV Werften group - are building Star's 5,000-passenger Global class, Crystal's 100-passenger Endeavor "megayacht" class, and Crystal River Cruises' 110-passenger Rhine class inland cruise boats.
The floating apartments aboard the Exclusive class would have made Crystal one of a very small number of residential cruise operators, a boutique sector occupied primarily by the 165-residence vessel The World. A competing venture, dubbed Utopia, has had her construction postponed multiple times since a 2009 announcement of a 2013 delivery date. Samsung Heavy Industries won the bid for the $1.1 billion Utopia, and the vessel would have been the first Korean-built cruise ship ever. According to her developer, 190 out of 200 planned "estates" aboard Utopia are still for sale, in sizes ranging from 1440 to 6150 square feet. Initial announcements put Utopia's residence prices at $4 million and up.