The Crystal Endeavour – Other Cruise News: Ponant Orders New Quartet – CLIA Statistics Confirm UK Still Second To Germany

by Kevin Griffin

Last week was Seatrade, in Fort Lauderdale this time. First broke the news of a new 25,000-ton 200-berth Polar Class megayacht for the Crystal Yacht Cruises brand and then came the news of a virtual doubling of the Ponant fleet, with an order for four 184-berth expedition ships of a slightly smaller size than the existing fleet. We also have a look this week at the annual cruise statistics announced by CLIA for the UK.


The Crystal Endeavour

After the launch of Crystal Yacht Cruises’ 62-berth Crystal Esprit, Crystal Cruises has made another announcement, claiming to have ordered the world’s first purpose-built polar class megayacht. Measuring 600 feet in length, the 25,000-ton 200-berth vessel will be the largest and most spacious megayacht afloat.

The Crystal Esprit (Courtesy Crystal Cruises)

The Crystal Esprit (Courtesy Crystal Cruises)

To be delivered in August 2018, the new ship will be named after Captain James Cooks’ research ship HMS Endeavour, which discovered Australia and New Zealand nearly 250 years ago – the newly built vessel will be designed for global expedition in Arctic, Antarctic and tropical conditions.

Although Crystal claim the megayacht will be the first purpose-built Polar Code compliant yacht in the world, with a PC6 Polar Class designation, Scenic have already announced Polar Class 6 for its Scenic Eclipse, also due for delivery in August 2018.

Both ships will thus be able to cruise in Polar Regions during the summer and autumn in medium “first year” ice which may include old ice inclusions. Both ships will also be fitted with offshore dynamic positioning technology, with computer-controlled systems that automatically maintain the ship’s position using its propellers and thrusters.

The Crystal Endeavor (Artist concept, courtesy Crystal Cruises)

The Crystal Endeavor (Artist concept, courtesy Crystal Cruises)

This will enable these megayachts to float atop coral reefs without utilizing anchors, which can damage the terrain or to keep position in other waters too deep for anchors.

Crystal Endeavour will cruise the Arctic; then follow the route of migrating whales along the coast of the Americas and Europe to Antarctica during the winter. Along the way, she will visit remote islands in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, which cruise ships seldom call at or cannot access.

With a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), expedition cruises will also be organised to see sunken galleons, warships and other ships, such as the Titanic at 12,500 feet, and with dynamic positioning, she will be able to hover over deep sunken attractions.

The 16,500-ton, 228-berth ocean-going cruise ship Scenic Eclipse (Artist impression courtesy Scenic Cruises)

The 16,500-ton, 228-berth ocean-going cruise ship Scenic Eclipse (Artist impression courtesy Scenic Cruises)

The new ship will offer adventures by air, sea and land with a complete range of toys not commonly found on today’s megayachts. This will include two helicopters and two landing pads for flightseeing expeditions, as well as two 7-person submarines, eight electric amphibious zodiacs, jet skis, wave runners, kayaks, fishing tackle, paddle boards, snorkeling and scuba equipment, compression chamber, dive support tender and a multi-person ATV.

Crystal Endeavour will also be equipped with Seabobs, the world’s most technically advanced and powerful underwater scooters, that allow riders to move gracefully under water.

Standard guest suites will measure a minimum 400 square feet including balcony, larger than all current expedition and luxury cruise ships, while two Owner’s Suites will each boast an area of 3,122 square feet (1,615 sq ft  interior and 1,507 sg ft balcony), making them the largest guest suites on any megayacht afloat. The Owners’ Suite can be connected to a penthouse suite (806 sq ft) for a combined square footage of 3,928 (2,227 interior and 1,654 balcony), surpassing any current accommodations at sea.

Crowning the Crystal Endavour will be Crystal’s signature Palm Court, which will offer 270-degree panoramic views for whale-watching and viewing other wildlife. The megayacht will feature six dining options, as well several guest amenities including a 200-seat theatre, numerous lecture rooms, cinema, card room and a computer centre.

The line’s acclaimed butler service will be available for all guests, as the megayacht will boast a one-to-one crew-to-guest ratio, with 200 crew members serving the 200 guests. Steel cutting for the ship will begin May 2016 and Crystal will take delivery in August 2018.


Ponant Orders New Quartet

Ponant of Marseilles last week confirmed it had signed a letter of intent to order four new luxury expedition ships, with the first to be delivered in 2018.

The additions will join the existing sailing yacht Le Ponant and the expedition ships Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial, with the new vessels designed to operate with 92 staterooms and a crew of 110.

The Ponant new ships (Artist impression by Stirling Design International)

The Ponant new ships (Artist impression by Stirling Design International)

Ponant’s new ships will be Ice Class ranked and equipped with the latest technologies, and the company will also introduce the concept of White, Blue and Green Expeditions.

White Expeditions will continue Ponant’s longstanding polar region cruising, while Blue Expeditions will focus on explorations of Oceania and Green Expeditions will take passengers to South America, Papua New Guinea or the Indian Ocean.

Here is a comparison of the new ships, to be delivered between 2018 and 2019, to the existing vessels, delivered between 2010 and 2015:

CLIA Statistics Confirm UK Still Second To Germany

Statistics released at Seatrade in Fort Lauderdale last week confirmed that despite a recovery in the numbers of cruise travellers the UK is still in second place in Europe but that it enjoyed a higher rate of growth than Germany.

Germany remains the number one source market in Europe but the UK’s growth to just shy of 1.79 million passengers cruising last year is “the highest increase in eight years,” according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

CLIA said the surge in passenger numbers is due primarily to increased capacity. Here are the statistics and the ships affecting them.

With the arrival of AIDAPrima later this spring and Mein Schiff 5 in June, German growth is likely to show another increase this year, as noted in our last column, to 2 million cruisers.

And further to the UK growth, the number of passengers cruising from UK ports is up 12% to 840,000, probably reflecting the addition of these three new ships from the UK.

As a small proportion of the marker, the number of UK passengers taking a river cruise grew by 10,000, taking the total to 150,300. Europe accounts for 87 per cent of river cruises taken by UK passengers.

(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)

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