This new cruise ship could be the most luxurious ever for off-the-beaten-path cruising

Jul 19, 2021

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What may be the most luxurious expedition cruise vessel ever is finally debuting this weekend after a nearly year-long delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Luxury line Crystal Cruises’ long-awaited, 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor will depart Reykjavík, Iceland, on Sunday on its first voyage with paying passengers.

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The 10-night trip will be the first of five consecutive Iceland sailings scheduled for the vessel that will involve a complete circumnavigation of the destination and an in-depth look at its dramatic landscape of volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields.

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Built to be both super luxurious and super tough, Crystal Endeavor was designed to take luxury travelers to the most off-the-beaten-path parts of the world, including Antarctica and the Arctic, in style.

It’s Crystal’s first vessel specifically designed for expedition cruising — a type of cruising that involves traveling to remote, hard-to-reach places on small, hardy vessels that carry their own landing craft.

Crystal, until now, has operated traditional luxury cruise vessels that include two ocean-going ships that carry 848 and 980 passengers, respectively, and five small river ships based in Europe. The line also operates a single, 62-passenger yacht.

The new Crystal Cruises luxury expedition vessel Crystal Endeavor. (Photo courtesy of MV Werften)

Crystal ships are known for offering a very high-end (and pricey) luxury experience, and the line’s new expedition vessel will be no exception.

Crystal Endeavor is an all-suite ship with such luxury flourishes as butler service for every passenger and a restaurant serving Nobu Matsuhisa-created cuisine.

In addition to the Nobu eatery, there are five more high-end dining venues — an unusually large number for an expedition ship holding just 200 passengers.

Crystal Endeavor also is home to a stylish, glass-covered solarium with a pool and Jacuzzi; a pampering spa; a cigar bar; and even a casino (a first for an expedition ship). Its staff-to-passenger ratio is one-to-one — one of the highest ratios of any cruise vessel.

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Still, Crystal Endeavor isn’t just about luxury. On the adventure side, the vessel will sail with a fleet of Zodiacs for exploring, plus kayaks and snorkel gear. But its real over-the-top adventure amenities are its two helicopters and a submarine. Yes, you can explore places like Antarctica from above and below, too, when sailing on Crystal Endeavor.

In addition, as many as 22 guides on every voyage will include biologists, ornithologists and other experts who will offer insights on the destinations the ship visits and lead landings.

Crystal Endeavor will have a Polar Class 6 ice-class rating — one of the highest levels that can be found among expedition ships that aren’t full-blown icebreakers.

After sailing around Iceland for the coming weeks, Crystal Endeavor will offer several sailings to Norway and other northerly areas in Europe before repositioning to Antarctica for the winter.

Fares for the vessel start at $8,549 (£6,224) per person for a nine-night sailing in the Caribbean.

Featured image courtesy of Crystal Cruises.

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