A&K Travel Group (AKTG) has revealed plans to build four new Crystal Cruises ships by the end of 2029.
The group, which acquired the line last year after it entered bankruptcy under the ownership of Genting Hong Kong, will build two expedition ships and two standard ships to join Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, which have both been refurbished under AKTG.
AKTG chief executive Cristina Levis made the announcement at a press briefing held on the shakedown cruise for Crystal Serenity on July 29, ahead of its inaugural sailing from Marseille on July 31.
She said: “We are working closely with our lenders, with naval architects and with two shipbuilding companies in Europe to build four more ships.
“Our aim is to have the four new-builds completed by the end of 2029. [There will be] two expedition ships and two classic ships.”
Levis revealed plans are “quite advanced”, with construction for one of the expedition ships and one of the regular ships expected to start in spring next year, but stressed the company has not yet signed a ship-building contract. The group hopes the first ship will be delivered in 2026.
Crystal Cruises senior vice-president of hotel operations Bernie Leypold and his team have been working on developing the quartet of new ships while refurbishing Serenity and Symphony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Trieste, added Levis.
The Ice-class expedition ships, which will each have a capacity of about 220 passengers, will offer itineraries in the Arctic and Antarctica but will not be restricted to the polar regions.
The other two new builds, which will each carry approximately 650 passengers, will be similar in style to Serenity and Symphony but with a slightly more relaxed feel, revealed chief marketing officer Peter Chipchase.
Chipchase, who joined A&K in December 2022, believes now is the perfect time to expand and “elevate” the line’s fleet.
He said: “You can see from the way the cruise industry is moving, with new players coming in from the hotel space, that it is in a real growth phase.
“These new brands will come in and pitch their product at an ultra-high level. We feel that, where the market currently is, there’s a space in between luxury and ultra-luxury.
“We think we can elevate our product to ensure we still appeal to our current customers, who we’re still really focused on, while attracting new people to Crystal.”