A week ago, at the port of Piraeus, at cruise terminal B “Themistocles» sailed on Crystal Cruises’ “Crystal Symphony” cruise ship which does cruiseluxury, thus strengthening Greece’s brand abroad.
A&K Travel Group, its parent company Crystalas the resurgent cruise line is now called, carried out a 160 million euro refit project on the two vessels acquired at auction in the middle of last year.
Crystal Serenity sailed last month and Crystal Symphony 15 days agos, both following major renovations carried out at the Fincantieri shipyard in Trieste in just 13 months.
Manfredi Lefebvre D’Ovidio the shipowner in love with Greece in a smart business move, he sold his first company, Silver Sea, and purchased Crystal Cruises. to resurrect it from its ashes after its bankruptcy.
On the occasion of the decommissioning of the cruise ship, Manfredi Lefebvre D’Ovidio answered the questions:
– Why are you investing in cruising? What attracts you to this sector that you left a few years ago?
Since 1818, my family history has been deeply rooted in maritime and passenger transportation, with some of my earliest memories accompanying my father to the shipyards. During the years when we weren’t operating a cruise line, my heart always yearned to return to the seas. After much perseverance, the opportunity to acquire Crystal presented itself. We rose to the occasion, securing the ships and the brand and going the extra mile, honoring Crystal’s past guests, ensuring my family’s legacy continues.
– How do you see the future given the trend of people traveling more?
The cruise industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in travel and we expect this trend to continue. Crystal visitors are the most loyal and eagerly await the return of the brand. We are seeing enormous enthusiasm around our renovated ships, our new itineraries and our excellent service.
– You seem to have close relations with Greece. Would you like to tell us a little about it? How did it start? What excites you about our country?
We have always had a strong relationship with the country. One of the defining moments in our relationship with Greece was in 2018, when Silversea Cruises carried out the dismantling of the Silver Spirit in the port of Chania. During this project, 4,652 items from the ship – such as sofas, chairs, armchairs, curtains, computers, desks, household items, etc. – were donated and recycled by local recycling company Ecoplan Crete. These objects, which we donated in excellent condition, were immediately made available by us for social and charitable purposes, primarily in municipal kindergartens, retirement homes, schools and other social institutions. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Chania and donate the ship’s parts in a beneficial and socially sensitive way and hope to continue this type of partnership now as owners of Crystal.
– What are your plans for the future of the company? Have you announced four new ships? Will you stop there or deploy a larger fleet?
There are a lot of things on the horizon for Crystal. We will continue to deliver the most exceptional on-board and in-flight experiences, as well as the unrivaled service excellence the brand is known for. In the years to come, our customers will see the full potential of the synergies between all the brands of the A&K Travel group. In terms of expansion, we recently announced that the company was working on signing a memorandum of understanding with two European shipyards for four new vessels. These will include two conventional ships and two expedition ships.
-What place do Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean in general have in your projects?
Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean have always been excellent travel destinations and we are delighted that Crystal Symphony has taken off on its maiden voyage from the port of Piraeus, Athens. Looking ahead to 2024, both ships will visit the region frequently with sailings operating in early summer and fall, with the Crystal Symphony’s final voyage of the year departing and arriving from Athens. As we continue to expand our itineraries and fleet, we see Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean as our customers’ favorite destinations and are excited that Thessaloniki will serve as the Crystal Symphony’s home port in 2025.
-What sets Crystal apart from other cruise lines? What do you think is its greatest advantage?
Crystal has stood out and will continue to stand out as a great company. From service to meals, suites, enrichments and experiences, our commitment to delivering the best in travel has set the standard of excellence in the cruise industry. Our focus on innovation, attention to detail and personalized service underpin everything we do. With our recent renovation, we have reduced the capacity of each of our ships, allowing our industry-leading staff-to-guest ratio to continue to be a key differentiator compared to other cruise lines.
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