Why the Florida-Caribbean region is perfect for creating enticing itineraries

Jack Anderson shares why Crystal sailed in the region when it returned to service in July 2021
Why the Florida-Caribbean region is perfect for creating enticing itineraries

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Serenity resumed service with seven-night luxury sailings from Miami, Florida, to Nassau and Bimini in The Bahamas

By Rebecca Gibson |

When Crystal began planning its long-awaited return to ocean cruising in the wake of the pandemic, the brand wanted to offer itineraries from familiar ports to safe destinations that would excite guests and encourage them back to the seas. Hence, it restarted operations in July 2021 with seven-night ‘Luxury Bahamas Escapes’ onboard Crystal Serenity. The cruises were so popular with guests that Crystal recorded the biggest-ever day of bookings within the first 24 hours of opening reservations.

“While Crystal is typically known for globe-spanning itineraries, we had the chance to offer our guests Miami as an embarkation port for Crystal Serenity’s Bahamas itineraries when we returned to cruising in 2021,” says Jack Anderson, president of Crystal. “There is a familiarity and comfort level with cruising from Florida, and Miami is a famed gateway to The Bahamas and the Caribbean, plus it offers great connectivity as a departure point.

“Similarly, The Bahamas has been especially appealing to our guests in 2021 because it is a world away in terms of exotic beauty and experiences but offers guests the peace of mind and convenience of departing roundtrip from a US port of call close to home. Crystal worked closely with The Bahamas to ensure a safe and healthy stay for our guests who continue to enjoy the Bahamian islands’ warm welcome and vast outdoor pursuits.”

Visiting The Bahamas also enabled guests to enjoy the island pursuits that continue to make the Caribbean appealing to many travellers. “Our ‘Luxury Bahamas Escapes’ offered guests the chance to discover rare ports of call in the pristine Out Islands of The Bahamas and enjoy gorgeous beaches and unique experiences – from the swimming pigs of Big Major Cay in Great Exuma to Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island, and the crystal-clear waters and coral reefs of San Salvador,” says Anderson. “They have enjoyed the opportunity to visit these idyllic places that are not featured on other cruise lines’ itineraries.”

According to Anderson, the Out Islands of The Bahamas are a perennial favourite for Crystal’s guests, consistently achieving high satisfaction ratings. “Guests have been charmed by the unspoiled beauty of the Out Islands of The Bahamas and the chance to experience these exclusive places usually only accessible by planes or private yachts and sailboats,” he explains. “They have enjoyed the natural wonders and authentic, up-close experiences with the generous people of The Bahamas.”

Eager to ensure its Caribbean itineraries remain fresh and enticing for both new and repeat guests, Crystal strives to continually incorporate new destinations into its itineraries alongside popular ports. Crystal Symphony, for example, began sailing a series of new Luxury Bermuda Escapes and two 10- and 11-night itineraries to the exclusive enclaves of the Lesser Antilles, the yachting harbours of the Virgin Islands and the Bahamian Out Islands in November 2021. The ship will remain in the region until March 2022.

“The itineraries feature a mix of ports and shore excursion options, showcasing favourites such as the chic shopping and dining opportunities in St. Barts, the beloved harbours and fantastic beaches of the US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands, and ecological explorations in Guadeloupe’s national park, which features 54,000 acres of rainforest, waterfalls and thermal pools,” says Anderson. “Guests will also be able to enjoy the abundant natural beauty of Dominica, author Ernest Hemingway’s favourite sportfishing paradise in Bimini, and San Salvador where Italian explorer Christopher Columbus took his first footsteps in the ‘New World’ in 1492.

“The mixture of destinations and the fact that travellers can combine Caribbean cruises with Bahamian itineraries to create immersive voyages of up to 21 days with no repeating ports offers guests a tremendous variety of fresh options.”

Guests were able to experience a compelling combination of Caribbean destinations when Crystal’s new luxury, 200-guest expedition yacht Crystal Endeavor made her US debut in autumn 2021 too. Sailing from Miami, Crystal Endeavor embarked on a nine-night ‘Expedition Yachting: Caribbean Mystique’ itinerary and took guests to remote islands and harbours that are typically only accessible to private yachts and sailboats before concluding her journey in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Destinations included Great Exuma, Man of War Bay and Inagua Island in The Bahamas; Gustavia, St. Barts; Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke and Normal Island in the British Virgin Islands; and Saba, Netherlands Antilles.

“This new itinerary was designed to offer just what luxury travellers are seeking – exclusive experiences and active outdoor pursuits in fascinating locales delivered with the greatest care and service,” says Anderson. “Because of the size of Crystal Endeavor, we are able to explore rare, off-the-beaten path destinations. For example, Great Inagua has no natural harbour so cruise ships cannot call there, but Crystal Endeavor was able to position in Man of War Bay and launch Zodiacs from her own marina.”

Crystal Endeavor’s one-to-one crew-to-guest ratio also empowers Crystal to provide personalised services, as well as intimate expeditions and bespoke onshore adventures. “We offer enviable access to expedition guides and special guest lecturers,” says Anderson. “The camaraderie of the expedition experience and the service and devotion of the crew makes for a very special travel experience, with personal connections that make it all the more memorable for our guests.”

This article was first published in the 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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