Advisors Upbeat at Crystal's Plan for Bahamian Cruises This July

Trade reaction was swift to Crystal Cruises' announcement Thursday that it plans to sail a series of seven-night, "Bahamas Escape" cruises from Nassau and Bimini with Crystal Serenity, starting July 4, 2021, which was reported by our sister publication Luxury Travel Advisor

It's the first time since the pandemic began that a major line operating bigger ships plans to restart voyages close to U.S. shores. Crystal will home port the ship in both Nassau (with Saturday departures) and Bimini (with Sunday departures); 16 all-Bahamas departures will be operated from both homeports.

“Finally, we have a date to return to sailing,” said Vicky Garcia, COO and co-owner of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. “Kudos to Crystal for creating a luxury, close-to-home experience for our travel advisors to sell, as this type of Bahamas cruise is different for the brand.”

Garcia believes the voyages will sell out fast because of “pent-up consumer demand, our group’s consistent recent growth in sales and the fact that Crystal has smaller vessels.”

She also said the seven-night, all-Bahamas itinerary with calls at many smaller destinations there “ will appeal to so many clients, including mature travelers who are vaccinated, upper-premium travelers who can now experience Crystal’s luxury product with this week-long sailing and those who just want to get on a ship.”

“I’m sure most travel advisors were shocked with the news and are looking forward to promoting it to their customers,” said Drew Daly, senior vice president and general manager of Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., who called the news “super exciting.”

The voyages will visit more off-the-beaten-path Bahamian destinations as Harbour Island, San Salvador Island, Long Island and Great Exuma. “The unique itineraries are islands that people would never normally visit on a Caribbean cruise, which makes the product that much more attractive,” emphasized Daly.

Daly also mentioned that with pricing that starts from $1,999 per person and the line’s vaccination requirement for guests, it’s “a prime option for cruise-lovers to take advantage of and experience a luxurious product. Agents will have an opportunity to make a higher commission and start bringing cash back into their businesses.”

"I like the idea of cruises starting," says Ken Heit, president-owner of Luxury Cruise and Tour Inc., a Frosch company in Pompano Beach, FL, but, at the same time, "my clients have almost all told me they are not interested in the Bahamas" and "the issues of heat and hurricane season make it tough to sell." 

From an industry perspective, though, advisors say they're encouraged by this new Bahamian "close to home" approach by Crystal and reports that some other lines are considering home porting in Mexico or Caribbean islands.

That's a way to skirt the issue of U.S. ports being closed to cruise ships, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not provided specific details the lines say they need to return to service at U.S. ports.

So, with this week's Crystal development, Daly is interested “in seeing what new ports and itineraries other cruise lines create to bring back cruising sooner.” From Garcia's perspective:  “I think we can all call this a win for cruising and something we have been looking forward to.” 

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