Crystal Cruises has pushed back the launch of its new Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler a bit, as it strives to assure the new builds, the first in their class for Crystal with many innovative features and new technology, are tip top for guests.
“Yes, in fact we did cancel six sailings for the betterment of our guests sailing on the Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler new builds,” said Rodriguez, who is on Crystal Mozart today and will welcome Crystal’s top producers there this week for the annual trade gala.
“You have only one chance to have a great first impression so we want our new builds to be flawless,” she said emphatically. Rodriguez also noted that six total sailings are affected with just over 600 guests impacted.
With the new schedule, Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler will embark on their new maiden voyages along the Rhine and Danube rivers on August 13 and September 30, 2017, respectively.
“In the spirit of the great partnership we have with travel agents, we wanted to make sure those valued travel agents were notified first, and we did.” All guests were contacted as well.
She described the line’s compensation to guests and commission for agents as “very generous.”
“For the most part, both travel agents and guests were extremely supportive of this occurrence,” Rodriguez said, adding: “When you are the only true luxury river company, competitors are very envious and, as such, they seem to take extremely tacky measures to try to spin a greater story.”
In a statement, Crystal River Cruises said its innovative new Rhine class river yachts will introduce a new standard of luxury cruising, delivering Europe’s only all-balcony, all-suite river ships with all guest accommodations located above the water line.
These state-of-the art ships include glass roofs, skylights and retractable sun-roofs over public spaces, and walk-in closets, lavish bathrooms, and cutting-edge technologies in all suites.
“The simple truth is this is no big deal as we were not the first company to delay new build deliverables and I'm certain we won't be the last,” Rodriguez stressed in talking to us by phone. "It is the nature of ship building."
That's particularly the case as lines seek more innovative products with structural and design features not seen in past river vessels.
Angela Composto, vice president of marketing and public relations, Crystal Cruises, told us that these two new river vessels have features that don’t exist in the industry today, including glass roofs and technology features. “We just need a little more time to build these innovative features. It’s as simple as that.”
The Crystal statement also said: “While we are eager to welcome guests aboard these unique vessels, the focus must remain on ensuring seamless delivery in the celebrated six-star level of luxury service for which Crystal is known. For this reason, we have determined that more time is needed to prepare the vessels for our guests and therefore we have made the difficult decision to re-schedule the debut of Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler. Our commitment to taking any measure necessary to ensure an unparalleled luxury travel experience remains constant, and we feel that the adjustments to the launch timeline are in the best interest of our guests, as well as our travel partners.”
Composto said the very generous compensation package for guests and agents includes a full refund of the cruise fare for guests, commission protection for travel advisors and a free cruise for both the guest and the booking agent.
"This offer has been met with overwhelmingly positive response," Composto said. "Crystal will always seek to put our guests and travel partners first when unavoidable situations such as these arise."
Separately, we’ve heard the industry rumor mill swirling about a new reporting structure for Genting Hong Kong, Crystal’s parent company, based on some new appointments.
But Rodriguez, who reports directly to Tan Sri Kt Lim, chairman, and Colin Au, Genting Group president, Genting Hong Kong, told us: “My reporting structure has not changed,” and notes that “none of this” affects her role.