Having expanded its fleet of large and luxurious ocean-going vessels to include a small-capacity seafaring yacht in December, and then taking to the skies this spring with the launch of an on-demand 12-seat private jet, Crystal Cruises made even bigger news Tuesday, when it revealed the interiors of its new 84-seat 777-200 plane.
The jumbo jet will begin carrying high-flying guests on 14-, 21- and 28-day round-the-world itineraries this time next year.
Akin to the trips on refit 757 planes run by Abercrombie & Kent and, a more recent arrival in this space, Four Seasons Hotels, Crystal AirCruises aims to take the experience to a higher level. The company wholly owns its plane, in contrast to other companies who lease or work with an operating partner, and its wide-body jet allows it not only to fit about 30 more people in an all lie-flat seating cabin, but also to provide a separate bar, dining, and lounge area, as well as a 150-bottle wine cellar, all decked out in subtle platinum, gray, and sea foam hues. (The larger plane means that Crystal won’t be able to land on some shorter runways that a 757 could, but the company plans to use smaller chartered aircraft—including its own—to take guests to the most remote of small airports as needed in places such as the African bush and Easter Island.) There are also iPads, Bose headsets, and 24-inch flatscreen TVs at every seat.
The 777—which could otherwise seat more than 300 passengers in its most generous configuration, as opposed to the fewer than 90 here—will have a range of up to 23 hours of flying time, during which passengers will be waited on by a dozen butlers from Crystal’s ships, all of them trained in aircraft-safety to become certified flight attendants. Crystal’s corporate chef is overseeing the food, which Crystal CEO Edie Rodriguez wants to be Michelin-level.
Destinations will be announced next month when sales start, but Crystal has already revealed that the trips will include between 12 and 15 stops in the 28-day itineraries and will see guests staying not only in hotels but more exclusive accommodations: “Things you can’t get into,” as Rodriguez describes them, “castle stays not usually open to the public, a museum you tour at night with its director.”
More from Condé Nast Traveler:
As for the appeal of traveling en (semi) masse aboard a private jet, Rodriguez says that though many of Crystal’s guests own their own yacht or aircraft, “they're coming to us because they want their hand held, and they want to travel with like-minded people."
Crystal’s rapid broadening of its travel purview over the last year has been thanks in large part to its new ownership by the Chinese hospitality holding company Genting Hong Kong. “They're very generous,” Rodriguez says of her bosses. “As long as I continue to be fiscally responsible, they will continue to indulge."
One way to stay fiscally responsible?
Making sure this new jet provides significant return on investment. To that end, Rodriguez says the cost of these trips will be “competitively priced but probably a little bit higher than our quote unquote competition." Given that the rates for A&K and Four Seasons private jet trips can soar to more than $100,000 per person, those will be some stratospheric numbers, indeed.