A luxury travel expert shares the year’s most exciting new routes and ships, plus a little advice for first-time cruisers.
Mary Jean Tully has made it her business to stay ahead of the travel curve since 1987, when she established the Cruise Professionals, now known as Tully Luxury Travel. Along the way, she and her team of travel designers have developed a deep firsthand knowledge of destinations and immersive offerings—particularly those of Crystal Cruises, which is now expanding its fleet with river vessels and yachts. We asked Mary Jean for her thoughts on what makes Crystal stand out and what travelers can expect from the cruise line next.
Which Crystal Cruises itineraries are you most anticipating for 2017?
This will be its first full season in Europe’s rivers, notably with the Crystal Mozart’s magnificent Danube River itineraries. The Esprit will be introduced to the Caribbean—how perfect to be there on a luxurious yacht. And I’m excited for Crystal’s second epic journey across the Northwest Passage, which connects the northern Atlantic and Pacific through the Arctic Ocean. They did an amazing job this past August and spared no expense in ensuring its success; passengers were thrilled.
Tell us more about Crystal’s new river cruise ships. What makes them notable?
I was on the all-suite Crystal Mozart’s inaugural sailing last summer and found it tastefully decorated with the typical Crystal luxuries. On each of its Danube sailings, you can also expect a Michelin-starred culinary experience thanks to the cruise line’s unique partnership with restaurants in Vienna and Budapest. Crystal offers a dedicated concierge, butler service in all suites, and complimentary shore excursions in each port town. I love that they have bikes available for exploring—and that the river cruise vessels can make unplanned stops along the route. The Crystal Bach and the Crystal Mahler will be coming out in 2017, and I’m beyond excited.
How have Crystal Cruises' offerings evolved in the 18 years you’ve worked with them?
They continue to invest in their ships not only by renovating them consistently, but also by introducing new menus, shore excursions, and destinations around the world. I really enjoy the onboard spas and love that they offer so many informative classes on wellness, be it yoga, meditation, and even acupuncture, which I recently experienced for the first time aboard the Crystal Mozart.
What are the benefits of booking a Crystal Cruises itinerary through a Tully Luxury Travel cruise specialist?
We’ve been the top-producing agency for Crystal worldwide for the past 18 years. Our reputation and relationship with them allows us to assist travelers with getting the best possible staterooms, promotions, and everything in between. Our agents are experts in knowing what their clients are entitled to from Crystal as well as the best transfers, hotels, and private tours. We offer personal firsthand knowledge as every one of my agents has experienced Crystal Cruises themselves—and some have more than once. In other words, we know Crystal inside and out!
At Tully, what’s your philosophy about travel? And what makes Crystal Cruises a great fit for your clients?
I love the way Crystal treats their staff and their clients as well as the relationships they have with their travel partners. They truly care and listen. I have to say that I have the same philosophy here at Tully Luxury Travel: Our service is our best asset. Crystal and Tully wouldn’t be where we are today without excellent service and attention to detail.
What might surprise people about the Crystal Cruises experience?
Not only will they be pampered with service beyond their expectations, but they will also feel enriched by Crystal’s Onboard Lecture program. There are many classes offered, including journal writing, wine tastings, and cooking lessons. I’ve taken ones that I’d never try at home; I even attended a workshop on how to write your memoirs.
What advice do you have for travelers considering their first luxury cruise?
Look at whether the ship’s amenities and itinerary are right for you, rather than just focusing on the price. We will be able to find the perfect cruise to suit your needs as there are many choices out there and we want it to be perfect for you.