Crystal Cruises Ashore: An Interview With Crystal’s Vice President of Land Programs, John Stoll

Bicycling in Lyon
 This cruise season in Europe, Crystal Cruises will offer escorted bicycle adventures and other active excursions ashore. When it comes to cycling, river cruise operators have long offered bicycles on board for guests to use at no cost. In the photo above, I enjoyed cycling on a recent river cruise in Lyon, France. Two wheels is the way to go when seeing Europe. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

I recently cruised on Crystal Serenity to experience and write about a few new innovations on board the vessel, which was recently renovated to the tune of $17 million.

Two big changes were to the dining program, and I wrote about those in these posts: Crystal Serenity’s Modern Cuisine & Charges At The Sushi Bar and Crystal Serenity’s New Dining Programs: Some Changes You May Love, Some You May Not.

But Crystal is evolving in more ways than dining, and on one afternoon, as Crystal Serenity was making her way from Bordeaux to Lisbon, I got the chance to sit down with a guy who I consider to be a kindred spirit, John Stoll, vice president of land programs for Crystal Cruises.

John Stoll, Christophe Tissinier
Crystal Cruises’ Vice President of Land Programs John Stoll (pictured right) with Christophe Tissinier of Bordeaux Excellence, a company that provides VIP services for Crystal guests in the vineyard-rich Bordeaux region. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

Imagine a job like John’s: He gets to travel around the globe to identify and often participate in some of the world’s most-coveted travel experiences, which he and his team then develop into land programs that the company offers to its guests through the Crystal Adventures program.

Throughout the years, John & company have come up with some innovative land programs, such as offering guests the opportunity to take flight in a MiG Fighter Jet. Cost: $47,500. Number of Crystal guests who have opted for this land program since its inception a few years ago: 3. (If you’d like to see a description of that excursion, click Crystal Cruises Mig Fighter Jet to view a pdf.)

I feel that I am a kindred spirit to John because while we both love our time on ships we have an even greater love for the places that ships can take us. Maybe you’re that way too.

I always get excited when I think about stepping ashore, whether I’m doing so to participate in a cruise line shore excursion, a custom shore excursion arranged by a travel agent, or whether I’m setting out on my own. On my recent Crystal cruise, I spent one day just walking through Bordeaux by myself. It was wonderful.

Among the things John told me was that Crystal has two new programs that will be of interest to active travelers: Bicycling Tours and Site Running. Read more about the tours after listening to the podcast below.

Trouble listening to the podcast? Listen to this interview and all Avid Cruiser Audio Podcasts on SoundCloud.

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