Fresh From Crystal Cruises, What's To Come? Plus, Follow me as I Explore Greenland & Five Stateroom Types You've Never Considered

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Beginning Thursday, follow my voyage in Greenland on Silver Explorer. II’ll be posting daily from August 27 through September 3 on Avid Cruiser, @avidcruiser, Facebook and Instagram. Click. View. Cruise with me. 

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Crystal Cruises Expansion, What's To Come For The Next 25 Years?

Only a Rip van Winkle could have missed the news of what is probably the most aggressive expansion ever in the luxury travel segment: Crystal Cruises' addition of three new ocean cruisers, two new river “yachts,” a 62-guest yacht, a Dreamliner, a smaller jet to complement the Dreamliner and a substantial stake in Lloyd Werft, the German shipyard that is building Crystal’s ships.

Celebrating its Silver Anniversary, 25-year-young Crystal Cruises is aiming to extend its luxury brand in the air, on the oceans and on the rivers. Five ships are on order, a yacht is being refurbished, and there's more to come. "We’ve only released a series of announcements thus far," Rodriguez told me on Crystal Symphony last week. "There’s a lot more to come, but even with what we’ve released thus far, and as we continue to grow each of those brand extension experiences, it’ll be very exciting."

Rodriguez said that the company, along with its new parent Genting Hong Kong, has announced only about half of what is ahead for Crystal Cruises. "It’s phenomenal when you see the whole strategy," she told me. "Just as we now are the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line, we will become the world’s most luxurious, and ultimately most awarded, hospitality and lifestyle brand portfolio in the world."

Crystal’s river cruise yachts debut in March 2017. You can learn more about Crystal River Cruises on River Cruise Advisor.

In late 2018, Crystal’s Exclusive Class Ocean Cruises will launch with three ships measuring 100,000 tons and carrying 1,000 guests each, giving the vessels the industry’s greatest space ratio on an ocean-going passenger vessel. In addition, each vessel will feature up to 48 residences, priced from $5 million and up.

Closer at hand is Crystal Esprit’s inaugural sailing on December 23, 2015. The luxury yacht will operate three itineraries: 9-day to 11-day trips in the Seychelles, with 2-night to 4-night Dubai land packages included, beginning at $4,960 per person; and two 7-day Adriatic itineraries beginning at $5,390 per person. The latter two can be combined for 14-day roundtrip Dubrovnik or Venice runs that start at around $10,000 per person.

While I was on Crystal Symphony, the company announced that it will extend complimentary Internet access to all guests beginning August 30 on both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. The free Wi-Fi perk was previously available only to Crystal Society members. The new program is limited, however, to one free hour per guest, per day for Deluxe Stateroom and Penthouse guests; 90 minutes for Penthouse Suite guests. Crystal is also making a "significant investment" in boosting functionality by adding extra bandwidth.

Some may question how Crystal has changed given its recent acquisition by Chinese investors. The answer is that there is little change, if any. In its breathless pursuit of the new and improved, Crystal has vowed not to let lag its two existing vessels, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

In fact, the only change I saw on Crystal Symphony was in the space where Lux served as a disco, there is now a high-roller’s room (Lux is adjacent to the casino). The high-roller's room wasn't especially busy on the night that I walked through.

Elsewhere, service, dining, entertainment and edutainment all appear to be at the same high standards that they’ve been for more than a decade. Of course, Crystal would do nothing to compromise its coveted position of consistently being voted “World’s Best” by the readers of Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler.

Rodriguez reiterated her commitment to maintaining the company's command in the large-ship (1,000 guests) luxury segment while steering Crystal Cruises expansion in the broader luxury lifestyle sector. "I love luxury, and I love this company, and I’m very excited to lead this team where this brand, with 25 years of brand equity, deserves to go for next 25 years and beyond."

That sounds like a promising future to us.

Click to view photos from our 8-night roundtrip Copenhagen voyage last week on Crystal Symphony.

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Five Stateroom Types You've Never Considered

Let’s be honest: we all secretly drool over the Penthouse Suites that almost every cruise ship offers.  Grand Pianos, marble bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a list of amenities that give rise to the term “first world problems” are all available for the taking.  Seven days of living like a veritable King or Queen make even the most humble of us …

Read more.

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Star Princess Denali Explorer, Day 10: Ketchikan

When It Rains… Thursday, June 25, 2015 On the pier in Ketchikan, Alaska, there’s a very noticeable installation located adjacent to the second berth, directly across from the splashy sign hung over the spot where Front and Mission Streets intersect. The sign proclaims that Ketchikan is “The Salmon Capital of the World”, but the device mounted to the side of …

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Star Princess Denali Explorer, Day 9: Juneau

Alaska From Above in Juneau Wednesday, June 24, 2015 Princess Cruises’ Star Princess came alongside in Juneau, Alaska on a brilliant morning. The capital of the state of Alaska, Juneau has been a staple of Alaskan cruising since the very beginning. But as ships have grown, the town council has had to construct newer and larger piers to keep up …

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Do I Need A Balcony Stateroom?

“Do I need a balcony stateroom?” It’s one of the most frequently-asked questions we get, and as with many aspects of cruising, the answers aren’t always clear-cut. After all, some cruisers simply wouldn’t travel unless they could have a balcony stateroom. We’ve heard from and have met others that prize their balconies in any weather condition simply for the opportunity …

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180 Days Around The World: Is Half A Year At Sea Right For You?

In 1873, Jules Verne penned his classic tale, Around the World in 80 Days. The famous French author, however, could never have imagined that one day you’d be able to sail the world – in luxury – in 180 days. Oceania Cruises recently introduced these massive World Cruise voyages that span half a year in duration. Rather than being a …

Read more.

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Join Me On A Silversea Voyage To Greenland On Silver Explorer

Wanna meet up? Why not Greenland? I'm headed there August 27, 2015, for a seven-day expedition on Silver Explorer. This is the perfect trip to couple with a longer Baltic itinerary roundtrip Copenhagen. That's because flying from the Danish capital is the easiest way to get to and from Greenland.

Of course, you'll need to check with your favorite cruise seller to see if there is still space remaining on Silversea Expeditions Voyage 7519. Then do a little research for Baltic cruises to marry with the expedition. No need to worry about packing winter gear for Greenland: Silversea gives you a complimentary Silversea-branded parka that will keep you warm out among the icebergs, and there will be plenty of those.

If you can't make it, then at least follow along here on Avid Cruiser as I file daily reports from our voyage.

The Silversea expedition will mark my third trip to Greenland, and I hope it's not my last. Anything but green (80 percent of Greenland is covered in ice), the world's largest island is part of the North American continent, but it is connected to Europe. An autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, Greenland is a fascinating place, and there's no better way to experience than on a Silversea expedition.

Here's what Silversea is promising on this voyage:

Read more and check out some gorgeous photos of Greenland.

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Six Tips To Extract More Joy From Your Cruise

In this free special report, I’ve put together a half dozen actionable items that can make the difference between cruise vacations that are memorable and others that fail to measure up to all you had hoped they would be. I’ve cruised on hundreds of ships, as a solo traveler and with family and friends.  — Ralph Grizzle, The Avid Cruiser

Click to download the report.

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Complete this thought: My best packing tip for cruises is ... click here to answer.

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