A fleet expansion of Crystal Expedition Cruises’ new ultra-luxury polar class ships has been slated for luxury hotel groups, including Hilton’s benchmark brand, Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts.
Speaking at the christening of the 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor in Stralsund, Germany on Saturday, Genting Hong Kong’s Group President, Colin Au, revealed the vision and plans for construction of Crystal Endeavor II by the shipbuilding company MV Werften (which Genting owns), commencing in 2023.
“We plan to build a series of 20,500 gross tonne Endeavor Class ships for different luxury hotel brands, such as Waldorf Astoria,” Au said during the presentation.
The concept would see Crystal Cruises operate the Endeavor Class sister-ships under a management agreement for hotel brands “to achieve the economics of scale in ship and shore operations,” Au said.
Au boasted that he’d discussed the prospect over dinner with the Chief Executive and senior management of Hilton the night prior in Las Vegas where Genting had officially opened Resorts World Las Vegas on the Strip, which comprises three hotels including Hilton and Conrad brands.
“They were very delighted to consider that the next Crystal Endeavor, No. 2, may be named Waldforf Astoria Cruise,” Au said.
Additionally, Au revived discussion of Genting’s Universal Class ships, also projected for hotel brands.
The 90,000 gross tonne Universal Class ships will accommodate up to 2,000 passengers, and the first vessel is planned for delivery in 2025. Au’s presentation depicted a number of other hotel brands’ signage on the ships, such as Accor, Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott, but purely for “illustration purposes”, the slide stated.
Au’s presentation included a video on the Universal Class ships, which said:
“These mid-sized ships will be flagged by global hotel brands which have instant name recognition, direct distribution and huge loyalty programs with the largest hotel companies, each having 100 million loyal members.”
Genting’s Universal ships are pitched as “Safe Ships of the Future”, affording up to 20% more space per passenger than comparable sized vessels.
The video continued saying: “Universal Class ships will be designed and produced like airplanes, where function is more important than form, simplifying the design and production process and reducing costs while allowing for customisation by individual hotels and other brands.
“In 2020, COVID-19 brought the cruise business to a stop and this means new cruise ships have to be designed to deal with future contagious diseases and epidemics.
“COVID-19 brings in the concept of social distancing and Universal Class ships are optimally designed for social distancing, having the most space per guest.”
Guest cabins will feature murphy-beds, that enable the room to be set up as a sitting room or dining room during the day, which means “guests can dine in comfort in their own cabins with friends and family, without being in public dining rooms”.
Each cabin will feature balconies of nearly 2 metres deep providing space for two lie-flat deck chairs. Controllable UV lighting will also be standard, enabling guests to avoid the crowded sun-deck of a ship, and enjoy the privacy of their own sanctuary – with 30-50% of guests preferring to sun bath on their own balcony.
Other features of the Universal Class ships highlighted in the video will be anti-viral and anti-bacterial design with no-touch technology, meaning the fleet will utilise voice and facial recognition, bluetooth and proximity activated elevators, doors to cabins and public areas.
Titanium Dioxide coatings will be applied to surfaces to kill virus and bacteria through photocatalysis and one-way corridors and stairwells were also highlighted for social distancing.
Lead image: Another slide from Colin Au’s presentation that showed the potential ship livery’s available to luxury hotel brands for the Crystal Endeavor Class concept.