Crystal Cruises will only build more river ships once there is “sufficient demand” for more capacity after launching five vessels over the last two years.
Walter Littlejohn, Crystal River Cruises’ vice-president and managing director, said the line had adopted a “more pragmatic and thought-driven approach” since Thomas Wolber took over from Edie Rodriguez as president and chief executive of the company.
Speaking at the christening for the line’s fifth river ship Crystal Debussy in Amsterdam, Littlejohn said: “Previously, Crystal as a brand talked more about future things, but we are more in the present right now.
“We will operate a bit differently than we have done in the past. If we decide there is sufficient demand for it, we will design it and map it out. On that day when we are ready to take bookings then we will announce it.”
Littlejohn said part of the reason for the change in approach was to “focus” trade partners’ minds on “experiences” that could be booked now “rather than in four years’ time”.
In a bid to generate more trade support, Crystal broke down 14-night sailings into shorter “segments” which agents, in turn, could earn commission by selling.
The lack of passenger interest in longer sailings proved to be a benefit for agents, allowing them to sell more segmented cruises, Litteljohn said.
He added that the move has “done wonders” for agents on both sides of the Atlantic.
“The trade has picked up on them very quickly,” he added. “They realise they can get their clients onto a river cruise this year. There is a different scheme in the UK, but it of course translates into pounds.”
Littlejohn, who took up his role with Crystal in April 2016, said the line is looking for every opportunity to increase the number of combination cruises it currently offers.
Crystal, like other river lines, allows passengers to pair a river cruise with either another river, ocean or yacht sailing.
Despite it only being “small part of the business”, Littlejohn said the arrival of three new ocean ships, the first of which is scheduled for 2022, will allow for more “combo” cruises to be created.
He added: “For 2020, we have our ocean deployment done so we are mapping out our river cruise ship deployment to create more opportunities where they can line up.
“We hope to have more where the opportunity is right.”
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