18 Months After Bankruptcy, This Luxury Cruise Line Is Sailing Again

In 2022, Crystal Cruises went belly up. Now, two of the original ocean ships are back on the high seas—with some enticing upgrades.

Reception area for the Aurora spa onboard the luxury Crystal ocean ships with a seating area consisting of a loveseat and two armchairs

Travelers can relax at sea in the new Aurora spa onboard the reborn Crystal ships.

Courtesy of Crystal

After declaring bankruptcy in 2022, what was once Crystal Cruises is back on the high seas with a new look, an abbreviated name, and plans for rapid growth. The cruise line was acquired by the luxury, small-group tour operator Abercrombie & Kent (A&K), which rechristened the brand as simply “Crystal.”

During the restructuring, Crystal sold off five river ships—which have been resurrected by the new river cruise line Riverside Luxury Cruises—and an expedition vessel, and it currently operates two of its original ships, the 740-passenger Crystal Serenity and the 606-passenger Crystal Symphony. However, Cristina Levis, CEO of A&K Travel Group, said Crystal plans to order two new classic ships and two expedition vessels over the next six years.

“We have ambitious growth plans for Crystal and are proud of what we have accomplished with the relaunch of Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony in just under a year following the purchase of the brand,” Levis said. “We are now thrilled to formally announce that we will grow our fleet and continue to offer the most exceptional cruising experiences in the industry.”

The two vessels, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, side by side

The two vessels, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, are just the beginning for the reincarnated Crystal brand.

Courtesy of Crystal

Crystal Serenity is currently on its maiden voyage under the new ownership: a 12-night Mediterranean sailing that started in Marseille, France, and will end in Lisbon, Portugal. The ship will operate mainly in the United Kingdom and Iceland in August before heading to Canada and New England for September and then onward to the Caribbean for winter. In the spring, the ship will embark on a 141-day around-the-world cruise, starting and ending in Miami and visiting 69 ports across 29 countries, including Colombia, New Zealand, Egypt, and Italy.

Crystal Symphony, meanwhile, will restart operations on September 1, with a sailing from Athens to Istanbul. Afterward, it’s off to Asia, Australia, and New Zealand for the rest of 2023 and into early 2024.

Both ships have undergone a series of upgrades since the previous line went under; the main one is the expansion of the size of staterooms and suites. By merging smaller guest rooms into larger suites with living room and bedroom areas, Crystal has decreased the capacity of Serenity from 1,080 guests to 740. The renovations resulted in two new room categories: Junior Crystal Penthouse Suites measure 806 square feet and include separate bedroom, living, and dining areas, 1.5 baths, a walk-in closet, and a balcony, while the Single Guest Room with Ocean View category includes a single bed and a small living area within its 215 square feet. Best of all, it serves as a great option for solo travelers, who no longer need to pay a single supplement for a double room.

Image of a plush bed, desk and nightstands all with blue and gray accents in a veranda suite on a Crystal ocean ship

A new veranda suite on the updated Crystal ocean ships.

Photo by Amanda Julca/Crystal

Levis said these new categories helped increase the availability of the popular Sapphire Suite category, which measures 537 square feet and has separate sitting and sleeping areas, a walk-in closet, a balcony, and a bathroom with a rainfall shower and dual marble vanities.

In addition to room refreshes, Crystal has revamped some public spaces, the spa, and the fitness area, which now includes in-demand pickleball courts, and passengers will find a new look in the onboard restaurants, including northern Italian fine-dining spot Osteria D’Ovidio and Umi Uma, the only concept at sea for Nobu chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa.

The Umi Uma restaurant on the Crystal Symphony, complete with elegant dining tables and chairs, and windows along one entire side of the restaurant

The Umi Uma restaurant on the Crystal Symphony is overseen by Nobu chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa.

Courtesy of Crystal

It’s worth noting that A&K also contracts ships from Ponant, a luxury French cruise company, for sailings to the Arctic and Antarctic regions. According to Levis, “When it comes to cruising, the companies will continue to operate as separate entities, with Crystal being a part of the A&K Travel Group family. Abercrombie & Kent will continue to charter Ponant ships for their expedition sailings.”

Crystal will announce itineraries for 2025 in the coming months (which, according to a Crystal spokesperson, will incorporate more A&K land expeditions), but there are still sailings available for booking in 2023 and 2024 on crystalcruises.com. Fares start at $3,800 per person, based on double occupancy.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at AFAR. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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