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Crystal Signs with Fincantieri for Newbuilds as Brand Renewal Continues

cruise ships
Crystal signed for up to three new cruise ships to be built in Italy (Crystal Cruises)

Published Jun 27, 2024 12:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises signed an agreement with Fincantieri for its first new ships in more than 20 years as the latest step in the revitalization of the brand. This is the next effort coming two years after the brand was purchased out of bankruptcy by Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio for the A&K Travel Group and resumed operations a year ago.

The agreement calls for two 61,800 gross ton cruise ships with an option for a third. The first ship would be delivered in the spring of 2028 with the timing for the second ship to be announced later. If the option is exercised, it calls for delivery in 2032. The order is subject to financing and other conditions.

Crystal was launched as a prestige product by Japan’s NYK Group starting operations in 1990 with one cruise ship the Crystal Harmony in the upper premium category of cruising. At 50,000 gross tons, the ship accommodated approximately 900 passengers. In addition to being very spacious, it also introduced new concepts including two alternative specialty restaurants. The brand added its second cruise ship, Crystal Symphony (51,000 gross tons), in 1995 and a third Crystal Serenity (68,870 gross tons) in 2003, although the oldest was later sold to NYK and continues to cruise as Asuka II.

 

Rendering of the new cruise ships (Fincantieri)

 

The cruise line was sold to Genting Hong Kong in 2015 which had plans to expand the brand into a luxury lifestyle brand. They added river cruise ships in Europe, a small yacht cruise ship, and completed construction of a luxury exploration cruise ship before the line went bankrupt as part of the financial collapse of Genting Hong Kong. The operation was split up in the bankruptcy with A&K Travel Group buying the two ocean-going cruise ships which had been arrested in the Bahamas.

Lefebvre, who had previously built Silversea Cruises before selling the brand to Royal Caribbean Group, revealed plans to restore the operation as a luxury brand including calling for new ships. According to today’s announcement the new cruise ships will accommodate approximately 690 passengers in all-suite accommodations including solo occupancy cabins. The ships will have one of the largest space ratios in the cruise industry. They plan to employ prominent architectural firms to lead the design efforts highlighting the ships will feature marble, Italian fabrics, and natural materials typically used in high-end private residential properties.

Design features for the new ships will include a wraparound promenade similar to that on the two current cruise ships. There will be dining options, a spa and fitness center, and facilities for children. Crystal also announced this week a collaboration with Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer (SBM), to host the first Casino de Monte-Carlo at sea starting later this year on its ships.

"This order is another milestone in the 40 years of productive collaboration between Fincantieri and my family that started with Sitmar Cruises, continued with Silversea and now is flourishing again with Crystal," said Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Executive Chairman of A&K Travel Group. Fincantieri also rebuilt both of the Crystal ships before they resumed sailing in 2023.

For Fincantieri, the deal, which is valued at up to €2 billion, further enhances its position in the ultra-luxury cruise ship segment. They are currently building two luxury yacht cruise ships, each 34,000 gross tons with 95 suites, for the launch of the new Four Seasons Yachts brand. Last week, Regent Seven Seas Cruises named its newest ultra-luxury cruise ship as the first of two also on order with Fincantieri.

Fincantieri CEO Pierroberto Folgiero highlights the orders as part of the robust recovery of the cruise sector.