Cruise Adviser sat down with Edie Rodriguez, CEO and president of Crystal Cruises, as it prepares to launch ocean ships, river cruise vessels and a land and air programme
Cruise Adviser: Crystal is going to need a number of new employees. How will you find the right people for the job?
Edie Rodriguez: We already have a team of family members, which is what I call our employees, on land, on sea and around the world. You need the right budgets and people to manage this expansion and we will continue to hire appropriately. We were also contacted by valued ex-employees who wanted to come back when they heard we were launching our new experiences.
The river sector is the fastest growing sector of the cruise market, with many new ships being launched each year. Is there demand for a new line and how is Crystal going to stand out from the crowd?
We have carried out extensive research and we asked our guests if they were interested in taking a river cruise. The result was that 79 per cent said they would like to take one, so we know the demand is there. We launched Crystal Mozart in Vienna in July and we are going to extend the river cruise experience. It will be different from anything already out there, both on board and on the shore. Crystal Mozart will carry 154 passengers and 92 crew members, an unprecedented number of crew for a river vessel. We will offer open dining times, a visit to a Michelin-starred restaurant for every passenger and we will also have two VIP tour boats that are currently being built in Italy and other experiences unique to the industry. The launch of our river vessels is a massive opportunity for agents.
Crystal is going through a period of growth and moving into new markets. What is your personal view on this?
Some people do not welcome change. I love it and thrive on it. As a company you have to evolve to stay relevant.
How important is your relationship with UK agents and what does the expansion mean for them?
The UK is our second most important market and it has always been very important to us. We know the Brits love to cruise, so we want to grow the UK market. We sell 97 per cent through the UK trade and this partnership is hugely important to us and we truly appreciate what they do. I always give agents a plug whenever I can. We view our portfolio as puzzle pieces that agents can be match together for their clients, such as a romantic break for two followed by a family getaway. We have selling tools to provide agents with all the support they need to sell with confidence, and with all the new experiences on offer we envisage that they can set their targets at doubling Crystal volume.