Earlier this year, Viking River Cruises became the first major river cruise operator to enter the ocean cruise market with the launch of their Viking Cruises brand and its striking flagship, Viking Star. Now, an existing cruise line is poised to go down the opposite path as they branch out from ocean cruising into the world of river cruises.
Luxury line Crystal Cruises recently announced an ambitious expansion program that will see the 25-year old company add a dedicated yacht and three brand-new luxury expedition-style vessels to their fleet by 2018, not to mention the start of dedicated air service aboard their very own Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
The other component to Crystal’s multi-pronged expansion plan: the start of a dedicated river cruise line to launch in 2017.
Details are scant at the moment, but the line stated their intention was to offer river cruises in the style that Crystal’s discerning guests have come to expect, aboard “worldwide” itineraries.
It’s not clear at this point how many river cruise ships Crystal intends to build, or whether they would own and operate them like lines like AmaWaterways and Viking, or if they would pass the technical operations on to a company like Scylla AG like Tauck does with their comprehensive river cruise product.
We’ll bring you more details on Crystal’s first foray into the river cruise arena as it becomes available. At this point, one thing is certain: Crystal’s announcement points to the explosive growth of river cruising, and underscores the fact that it is growth that is here to stay for the long-term.
Will other luxury lines follow suit? It’s too early to tell – but highly likely that other existing cruise lines on all sides of the spectrum will be closely monitoring Crystal’s entry into the river cruise market in 2017.
More information on Crystal Cruises can be found on our sister-site, The Avid Cruiser.