Big plans for Asian-owned Crystal

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When Crystal Cruises chief executive and president Edie Rodriguez met with new owner Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay in Singapore recently, he offered her Genting’s Megastar Taurus as the line’s first luxury boutique yacht.

“He didn’t have to offer twice. I said ‘yes’ right away,’’ Ms Rodriguez said.

Now Megastar Taurus is in dry dock undergoing the much-acclaimed Crystal makeover to be transformed into the 62-passenger luxury Crystal Esprit, to be launched on December 23.

The astonishing expansion plans of Crystal Cruises has been the talk of the industry for weeks. Coupled with Genting’s investments in Regent Seven Seas, Star Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines, it makes Tan Sri Lim and his company a major player in international shipping.

In particular, one of the biggest in luxury, pitting itself against the likes of Carnival Cruise Lines’ Seabourn, French-owned Ponant and Silversea.

Esprit will be the first to kick off Crystal Yacht Cruises when she takes well-heeled boating enthusiasts on a week’s sailing in the Seychelles and the Adriatic coast.

And she will have all the expensive toys wealthy boating moguls like – a private submarine for two where Ms Rodriguez plans to offer underwater weddings, water skis, jet skis, four 10-passenger zodiacs and a 32-foot super tender for special water adventures.

Esprit will spend Christmas in Seychelles and the cruise is already selling like hotcakes when we opened bookings for Crystal members and past guests from July 19 – August 31,” Ms Rodriguez told ASEAN Cruise News.

If Esprit is a success, then the Genting-owned Star Cruises will assign sister ship Taipan to the fleet.

From a two-ship, most awarded luxury cruise line, Crystal Cruises’ recent expansion announcement will also catapult the brand – and Genting Hong Kong – into river cruising, boutique yachts and even private jet Dreamliner tours.

Some cabins aboard Crystal’s new ships will be available for sale in a game-changing.

In one swoop, new owners Tan Sri Lim and Ms Rodriguez have transformed their vision into a reality to take on other established and bigger luxury lines in the cruise market.

“It’s all about quality,’’ said the industry veteran with 34 years experience in the cruise industry.

“We want to have a premier, hospitality and lifestyle portfolio. We do not want to be the largest – it’s about quality, not quantity.”

When Tan Sri Lim, chairman of Genting Hong Kong bought Crystal Cruises for US$550 million in May, Ms Rodriguez knew she was on a winner.

Genting Group is a global conglomerate with holdings in casinos, palm oil plantations, real estate, themed resorts, Star Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line. Its Resorts World brand ventured into Las Vegas this year with a multi-million Chinese themed resort complex.

Star Cruises is the third largest cruise line in the world after Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises. The line dominates the Asia Pacific cruise region.

The takeover of Crystal by Genting is almost like a marriage made in heaven. Crystal needed fresh injection of funds to grow the brand and Genting has the firepower, financial clout and vision to execute it.

Now Crystal will debut in sectors where it has never been before.