Count us in, darlings. We can certainly wait, especially given the propensity of the current summer to either bake us or drown us at equally short notice. 2020, you say? No problem, we reply. Count us in.
We are, of course, referring to the latest, gorgeous and oh-so-inviting possibilities for the forthcoming new Crystal Endeavor, which will be Crystal Cruises’ first purpose-built expedition-style vessel when it’s completed in two years’ time.
There we were, fanning ourselves in the garden with the latest edition of Horse & Hound (established 1884) and trying desperately not to open that second bottle of Pimms (sadly, we failed), when our computer made that irritating ‘Boingg’ sound from the study.
With the patio doors wide open, we couldn’t help but hear it, and Treadwell marched purposefully in to see to it, amid dark mutterings about technology, interruptions and things that go ‘boingg.’
It has been a long, hard summer since our most recent voyage way back in early June, and the thermometer has not been our friend in all that time, telling us ridiculous things like “33 degrees, plus 65% humidity and a 0% chance of rain.” Really? In Sussex, in July? It has to be some kind of ghastly hoax.
But there we were, casting around for ways to cool down when our Inbox served up a positively peachy possibility (and try saying that after two bottles of Pimms!). “A world beyond reach is closer than you think,” it insisted. “The world’s most luxurious yacht expedition cruise.”
Now, it doesn’t take a lot for us to get side-tracked by the prospect of some wildly exciting cruise adventure, but put ‘Expedition’ together with ‘Crystal’ and we are positively agog with expectation.
True, it is several years since our last little sojourn on the recherché Crystal Symphony, which remains our gold standard for the truly deluxe cruise experience. Sailing along the St Lawrence Seaway, with Igor, our butler, and a vista of fall foliage from Quebec to Mont-Saint-Pierre, we were coddled in a way that we hadn’t experienced in nautical fashion for many a moon, if ever.
It is equally true that Treadwell had to be almost carried off at the end in New York, with an angst-ridden wailing, and whimperings of “My cabin, my cabin…” as we left our stateroom on the Penthouse deck. Yes, it really was that good.
Therefore, it takes only the merest hint of a sniff of a whisper of a mention of anything Crystal for our maritime ears to prick up and demand our full attention. There it was in glorious blue-and-white, the full inaugural season of the new Endeavor. “Where luxury roams freely,” it insisted. And we could well imagine.
We are never more truly happy than when we are voyaging off the beaten ocean-going track. Allied with the idea of genuine six-star luxury, it is indisputably the idyllic combination. Here’s what we read:
• All-suite, all-balcony, butler-serviced accommodations
• Unlimited Michelin-inspired cuisine and 24-hour room service
• Unlimited fine wines, champagnes, premium spirits, speciality coffees, and non-alcoholic beverages
• Onboard entertainment, expedition lectures, and enrichment programme
• Unmatched collection of Complimentary Crystal Adventures ashore
• 18 zodiacs, kayaks, submersible, and 2 helicopters
Minds. Positively. Boggled.
Pulling up our office chairs, we clicked the ‘Explore Voyages’ button that came with the startling home page for Crystal’s much-heralded newcomer – “ the largest and most spacious PC6 polar class ship,” we quickly learned – and plunged into a world of penguins, icebergs and exquisite Japanese cuisine.
The maiden voyage of the new vessel begins in the exotic Russian Far East in August 2020, a 17-day round-trip from Tokyo that takes in the likes of Kamchatka, the Valley of the Geysers and the Sea of Okhotsk in one of the legitimately most far-flung of destinations, and one with all the promise of total cruise adventure. Consider us hooked.
The inaugural season continues to the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, including the Great Barrier Reef and Komodo National Park. Hobart, Tasmania, is then the jumping off point for McMurdo Sound and Antarctica, and all the glories of the vast Southern Continent, glaciers, penguins and the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Having followed the itineraries as far as they would allow, we clicked on the ‘Journeys that defy imagination’ section that attempted to defy both our imagination and our ability to envisage such sea-going splendor. Except that we could, and now we want to go there, really, really badly.
“Generous social spaces not found on any other expedition ship…experience immersive adventures, wilderness landings and extreme discovery…intrepid, all-exclusive journeys that defy imagination…”
The accompanying video was akin to allowing a six-year-old the full freedom of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory AND the Polar Express AND Santa’s workshop all at the same time. We were agape with amazement and agog with expectation.
There were other nuggets of golden anticipation along the way – a signature Nobu restaurant, Umi Uma and sushi bar, with the promise of that fine Japanese dining; the Crystal Life Spa, for the ultimate pampering in the world’s polar regions; an Expedition Lounge for all those essential expert talks and lectures on these spectacular destinations; and a full Observation Deck and Terrace to ensure a panoramic view of the places Endeavor sails.
With just 100 beautifully appointed suites – all of them with butler service – and a near one-to-one guest to staff ratio, underpinned by the latest high-tech amenities and gadgets, this promises to be not just the pinnacle of adventuring cruising for some time to come but travelling in general, an absolute high point in holiday heaven.
No wonder we were soon off to see the bank manager about exactly how much we might be able to borrow in two years’ time and, “Oh, by the way is it okay if we forget that kitchen extension we talked about earlier this year?”
We can certainly live without a new cooker and counter-tops, but we’re pretty sure we want to be on board a brand new cruise ship somewhere in the Pacific in 2020. Because, well, life’s for living, right…?
PS: We fully endorse calling The Cruise Line as soon as possible to ask about deposits for Crystal Endeavor. At only 200 passengers per cruise, this is not one that is likely to be discounted any time in the next millennium!