Crystal to target younger, new-to-cruise markets

Shorter sailings, integrated A&K expeditions to tick off 'bucket-list' experiences

A&K Travel Group has revealed details of a triple-pronged approach to reaching new market audiences for its luxury cruise line, Crystal. Details were discussed aboard Crystal Serenity this weekend, as the company offered a sneak-peak as to how it intends to integrate the up-market cruise program of Crystal with the luxury land offering of Abercrombie & Kent.

“We’ve been working pretty extensively on how do we create a really unified A&K and Crystal product, and bring in A&K’s land tours, experiences to the excellence of service and the onboard life of Crystal,” said Jacqueline Barney, SVP of Global Marketing, Crystal Cruises.

Crystal expects to unveil the first itineraries of its 2025 program in August, with the full program coming out in September. It will include details of a new World Cruise that will offer land touring, not just shore excursions, aimed at appealing to a younger demographic.

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Barney explained that A&K Travel Group will experiment with multi-day A&K overland experiences, whereby guests leave the ship for a few days to explore another destination to “check off their bucket list”.

An example Barney suggested was a voyage of the Panama Canal and South America. “If you have a three-day gap between Guayaquil and, let’s say Lima, being able to jump off and take an extraordinary A&K expedition to the Galapagos.”

Another scenario may be an A&K expedition to Machu Picchu on the days between Lima and another coastal destination.

“Imagine going all around the world, being able to check off every bucket list and seeing that A&K experience and these marvels around the globe,” she said.

“When we look at one aspect of how we’re testing the product and trying to bring in a new consumer, let’s say the consumer that’s never sailed – the consumer with high bucket list expectations – we’re creating this product that will give them that.”

Peter Chipchase, Cheif Marketing Officer, A&K Travel Group said the general target audience of the paired Crystal/A&K experience will be the under 55 demographic. 

“We can then create a slightly different approach in itineraries than what we currently offer for a client in their mid-40s,” Chipchase said of the Abercrombie & Kent offering.

“The client wants more time on land to get under the skin of the destinations they visit, rather than just ticking off a destination,” the ex-Soho House marketing guru explained.

Chipchase said Crystal’s itineraries this year and next already include a “new level of detail and curation” of  experiences, but the full potential of the partnership between Abercrombie & Kent and Crystal will come to the fore in 2025, and appeal to an audience in the mid-40s age group.

Barney added that Crystal is aiming to target a consumer that may be new to cruising, or otherwise a landlubber hotel consumer, drawing reference to luxury hoteliers that are making a move into luxury cruising, such as Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons and Raffles.

Speaking from experience – the cruise expert has 17+ years industry experience having worked at Seabourn, Silversea, National Geographic Expeditions, Adventures by Disney and most recently, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection – says hoteliers-turned-cruise-operators are focused on “more overnights”.

“From another perspective, when we look at attracting a consumer that’s perhaps new to cruise, that hotel consumer, which we all know these hotel lines are coming out with.”

“They’re doing casual, smaller cruises, no entertainment but you get to be on shore more,” Barney said. Whereas Crystal can offer overnights, iconic destinations on a five-night cruise in the Med that includes Monte Carlo, Sorrento and other “really sexy Mediterranean ports” and bundled with a pre- and post-A&K tour.

She said the shorter itineraries will target that consumer that loves the hotel life but remains undecided on cruising, giving them the opportunity to test the product. “The consumer that just wants to get away for a short time, who’s a working individual, may still be in their mid-50s with kids that have grown up.”

For international markets that travel further afield, that would likely mean a longer voyage,” Barney noted.

Chipchase added that Crystal wants to go after the segment positioned between luxury and ultra-luxury.

“We feel that where the market currently is, there is a space between the two. We feel we can elevate our product and still appeal to our profiled current customer… but we feel we can attract new people to Crystal by enhancing what we’ve already built,” he said.

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