Crystal Cruises: A History of Perfection

Crystal Cruises was created in 1988 with a vision to set a completely new standard in luxury travel and world exploration. Exceptionally designed ships would incorporate the best design concepts of legendary ocean liners and world-class hotels, styled with all the latest advancements of modernity. Destination-rich itineraries would span the globe, offering savvy travelers unprecedented opportunity for intimate and authentic shoreside discovery. 

Our first ship, Crystal Harmony®, debuted in 1990 to international acclaim, heralded for its tremendously spacious public areas reminiscent of grand ballrooms, lavish casinos and splendid dining rooms. Equally as impressive were the intimate lounges, traditional bars and dedicated spaces for specialty restaurants and personal enrichment. Generously appointed verandah staterooms and sumptuously styled suites and penthouses were among the largest in the industry, drawing rave reviews from discerning travelers and compliments from competitors.

But what truly set Crystal Cruises’ debut apart from any other cruise line, and immediately put us on par with many renowned land-based hotels and resorts, was the exceptional level of service provided both at sea and ashore. Genuine, welcoming and friendly, without being overly familiar. Sophisticated and contemporary without being too formal or traditional. The combination of a spectacularly designed vessel and a staff and crew dedicated to the highest levels of service quickly propelled Crystal Cruises to the very top of luxury travel.

Today, Crystal Cruises operates the two top-rated luxury ships in the world: the 922-guest Crystal Symphony® (launched in 1995) and the 1,070-guest Crystal Serenity® (launched in 2003). Crystal Harmony was retired in 2005. In early 2015, global hospitality leader Genting Hong Kong (GHK) acquired Crystal Cruises from our founding parent company, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), with a commitment to grow our brand with the addition of a third ship in 2018—one that will exceed all current and on-order luxury offerings in the global cruise industry.

With our signature focus on service and innovation, Crystal Cruises continues to define the luxury travel experience. Beyond our beautifully designed ships, we continue to create enriching onboard programs that tap the curiosities and passions of world travelers. We were the first cruise line to truly invest in technology services for our guests with the launch of the Computer University@Sea in 1997, an innovative program that is unmatched even today.

Equally as innovative, our Creative Learning Institute partners with leading names in language, music, wellness and wine, with complimentary, progressive courses of study offered by Berlitz®, Yamaha®, Cleveland Clinic and the Tai Chi Cultural Center. The Crystal Visions® Enrichment Program regularly showcases some of the world’s most celebrated names in art and history, journalism and television, stage and screen, U.S. and foreign diplomacy, food and wine, and more.

Believing that culinary discovery is inextricably connected to world travel, we launched one of luxury travel’s most sophisticated and enriching wine and food programs. Our highly acclaimed Wine & Food Festival at Sea debuted in 1996, allowing our guests to mingle with the world’s epicurean elite. Offered on numerous voyages throughout the year, the itineraries unite celebrity chefs such as Suzanne Goin, Danny Meyer, Marcus Samuelsson, Sam Choy and André Soltner with leading wine experts from legendary vintners including Banfi and Kendall-Jackson, and such renowned restaurants as Napa Valley’s French Laundry, New York’s Tribeca Grill and Rome’s La Pergola.

The overwhelming success of our Wine & Food Festival cruises led us to design and build a Vintage Room aboard each ship where we host exceptional dinners that pair rare and undiscovered wines with special menus designed to enhance the nuances of each particular vintage.

In 2009, we debuted our Experiences of Discovery® voyages, an inspired collection of theme cruises designed to enrich dozens of itineraries each year with a special-interest focus. Stylish and sophisticated, the onboard programming is augmented by shoreside adventure as well, showcasing topics such as Photography; Ancient Civilizations; Chance & Fortune; Mind, Body & Spirit; Jazz; Golf; Film & Theatre Festival; Cabaret at Sea; Big Band; Ballroom Dance and of course our Wine & Food Festival cruises.

Discovery ashore is unrivaled with a staggering collection of more than a thousand Crystal Adventures® shore excursions offered every year, each designed to appeal to specific areas of interest and physical ability. Crystal Private Adventures® tailor shoreside experiences to the specific desires of guests, creating once-in-a-lifetime memories in some of the world’s most fabulous destinations.

Our innovative ambitions in just the last few years have seen advances in our culinary offerings with a Modern Cuisine menu and Globally Inspired Cuisine adding depth and variety to the dining experience. Among several other industry firsts are our PURE allergy-friendly staterooms, a living wall at sea, an outdoor Fitness Garden, exclusive entertainment programs including Hollywood, CA’s Magic Castle at Sea, and concert productions such as the only Elton John World-endorsed tribute artist and My Life: The Music of Billy Joel starring James Fox. The most telling of our bold innovations is perhaps found in our future itinerary plans as Crystal Serenity becomes the very first luxury ship to transit the Northwest Passage in 2016, and as both ships combine to offer an incredible collection of four distinctly different World Cruise programs in 2018.

Looking ahead, Crystal will continue to define the luxury travel experience among other leading luxury lines as well as renowned hotels and resorts around the world. Our record-breaking two decades as the World’s Best is unmatched among cruise lines, hotels and resorts, keeping Crystal Cruises in a class by itself.