Designed with the cruise line’s typical elegance, Crystal Cruises’ first polar-class vessel allows exploration ‘far from the beaten path’
Designed to showcase the outside scenery, Crystal Cruises’ first polar-class vessel Crystal Endeavor is billed as the most spacious and luxurious ship in the expedition sector.
Crystal Cruises vice president, hotel newbuild & refurbishment, Jan Sorensen tells Passenger Ship Technology “On this project we drew a lot of inspiration from the destinations Crystal Endeavor will visit. Being an expedition vessel, it will not only be taking typical cruise routes but also ‘pole-to-pole’ and far from the beaten path, offering guests cultural discovery, a real sense of exploration and remote expeditions, where few have ever been. We wanted to bring this notion inwards to heighten the experience for guests. The ship itself mirrors this sense of adventure, with open, spacious design and plenty of room to roam for guests on board.”
Constructed at Germany’s MV Werften shipyard, the 20,000-gt, PC-6 expedition yacht which carries 200 passengers on a 1:1 staff to guest ratio, is scheduled to debut in Europe’s summer season. Itineraries range from ‘Remote Expeditions’ including the Arctic, Antarctica, Svalbard, Iceland and Greenland to ‘Cultural Discovery’ and ‘Destination Exploration’ sailings to western Europe, the British Isles, Africa’s west coast, the Caribbean and Panama Canal.
The ship is named after Captain James Cook’s British Royal Navy research ship, HMS Endeavour, which set sail on a pioneering voyage of discovery to Australia and New Zealand in 1768. For its modern-day counterpart, Mr Sorensen says a two-fold objective of the interior design brief was to focus on space and ensure fluidity when moving between the different areas on the ship.
“The overall interior feel incorporates vibrant shades of blues and teals with soft earth-tone shades appearing across the vessel. Crystal’s overall style is always sophisticated and timeless, so it will appeal to guests today and in the future. Each space naturally has its own distinct design, providing enough distinction between the venues on board while maintaining a good flow between the spaces. On a smaller ship like an expedition vessel, it is key to ensure a cohesive atmosphere that flows from one space to the next.
“There is a real emphasis on the connection of the guests’ onboard surroundings with the outdoor surroundings. It was important to think about the effects of natural daylight and how it changes in intensity and warmth travelling from one pole to the next and considering the warmer climates. Selecting palettes and materials was carefully considered in this respect.”
Crystal Endeavor marks another collaboration with London-based design firm AD Associates, which has a long-standing relationship with Crystal Cruises stretching across both newbuilds and refurbishments, and which includes winning an award for the redesign of Crystal Symphony.
Mr Sorensen says “AD came aboard the project in its infancy to undertake initial space planning and the general arrangement development, helping to map out the sizes of public rooms and cabin modules. AD has played a major role in designing the ship’s entertainment spaces, dining and social areas.”
Crystal Endeavor is an all-suite vessel, and every stateroom has butler service and a private veranda. Accommodations mainly comprise 90 deluxe suites that measure 28.3-m2. There are eight 42.5-m2 penthouse suites plus, situated forward on deck 7, one 91-m2 expedition penthouse suite and one two-bedroom 105-m2 owner’s suite with an expansive 68.4-m2 balcony. The expedition penthouse suite can be combined with the adjoining deluxe suite to create an interconnecting family room.
Running off the main central passenger deck corridors are smaller passageways serving pairs of cabins, and each stateroom is equipped with a butler pantry or pass through.
Mr Sorensen explains “An early principle was the shared corridor and private connectivity of the staterooms with the ‘no contact’ butler pass through. This allows for privacy and seclusion for the guest without sacrificing the personalised service of their personal butlers who can place items in it from the hallway and guests can access and retrieve the items from inside their suite.”
In the public areas, there are some familiar signature Crystal venues on board, for example, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Umi Uma & Sushi Bar, which Mr Sorensen says has been reimagined and distilled to work with the flow of the interiors. There is also the intimate Connoisseur Club cigar lounge with seating for 10, and the Palm Court lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows. The social hub of the ship, the Palm Court is a multi-purpose venue for afternoon tea, cocktails, enrichment presentations and entertainment.
Elsewhere, Crystal Endeavor debuts expedition-specific spaces and services including designated mud rooms where passengers change before embarking on Zodiac tours and shore excursions, and an expedition lounge for in-depth study of the places visited. The ship also has a helicopter lounge adjacent to the landing pad, where passengers are briefed for aerial explorations aboard the yacht’s two helicopters. The ship is also equipped with a seven-person electrically powered submersible allowing for deepwater explorations up to nearly 300 m in several areas of the world, plus a remote-operated vehicle with an underwater camera used to feed images back to the ship to broadcast on LED screens in public areas and in suites. Additionally, every cabin is fitted with a walk-in wardrobe and heated storage space for parkas and expedition gear.
Mr Sorensen adds “Everything on board, from entertainment venues and artwork to dining venues, has been co-ordinated to integrate the expedition nature and bold spirit of the Crystal Endeavor experience. One highlight is the captain’s lounge, which offers sweeping views out over the bridge.
“There is a distinct character to each of the venues’ artwork selections that is integrated with the underlying theme of the interiors, taking inspiration from the destinations and the spirit of exploration. Dedicated enrichment spaces have been designed to host informative lectures, presentations and conversations with the Crystal Endeavor expedition team.”
Diesel-electric power plant
Crystal Endeavor has an overall length of 164.5 m, width of 23.4 m and draft of 5.9 m. Equipped with a diesel-electric power plant designed specifically for ice-going service, four Wärtsilä 32 engines combined with the Wärtsilä NOx reducer emissions after-treatment system will provide the electrical power for the ship which has a maximum speed of 19.7 knots. The propulsion system features a pair of ABB Azipod D units, both 5,000 kW, and ABB’s intelligent manoeuvring interface automation and OCTOPUS software for optimised energy management. Dynamic positioning capabilities enable the ship to remain in one position utilising GPS and its bow thrusters rather than dropping anchor.
Mr Sorensen says “The team at the MV Werften shipyard is incredibly skilled at bringing Crystal’s vision for our ships to fruition, as they did with the Crystal River Cruises’ Rhine-class vessels. With Crystal Endeavor, the focus has been on groundbreaking design from day one, and their expertise has been invaluable throughout the entire process.”
Built to Crystal’s blueprint of efficiency combined with sustainability, Crystal has been accepted as a new provisional member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators which promotes safe and responsible travel to the region. The ship complies with the standards of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships (Marpol). Crystal Endeavor is equipped with several water treatment plants including a ballast water treatment system which treats water before it is discharged, a freshwater system that creates drinking water from seawater through osmosis and a biological treatment system that cleans wastewater before it is discharged back into the sea.
The ship can connect to shore power in port and energy-saving initiatives include LED lighting and the automatic reduction of heating and air conditioning in staterooms when they are unoccupied.
Beneath the waterline, environmentally friendly lubricants are used for the bow thrusters and stabilisers and all underwater paint is free from tributyl phosphate. The vessel is fitted with underwater 3D forward-looking sonar technology from FarSounder which provides real-time 3D images of the terrain and marine activity along the ship’s route of up to 50 m, enabling the bridge team to detect sea life far in advance and navigate appropriately.
At the helm of Crystal Symphony, Captain Thomas Larsen says “Crystal Endeavor also has more storage capacity that any similar-sized vessel and this, together with the ice-class designation, means we can operate in the most remote regions of the world in style and comfort. I am thrilled to be a part of the team who is building it.”
Crystal Cruises interim president and chief executive Jack Anderson describes Crystal Endeavor as “remarkable” and adds “As the most spacious and luxurious ship in the expedition market, Crystal Endeavor will offer new ways for luxury travellers to explore the world while also delivering on what Crystal does best – a design that anticipates the needs and comforts of our guests; generous public spaces and elegant suites; immersive and enriching destination experiences; world-class cuisine and, of course, warm and attentive service from the best crew in the world.”
With its cutting-edge design – plus its helicopters and submersible – Crystal Endeavor looks set to attain new heights, as well as explore new depths, in the world of expedition cruising.