Crystal Cruises Sails into Promising Year Ahead

One of the most loved and highly regarded cruise lines in the industry—lauded by the likes of Virtuoso and—is also a long-standing member of Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Awards hall of fame. This year, Crystal Cruises makes its 11th foray into Recommend’s annual awards as Best Cruise Line—Luxury.

“We are so honored that travel counselors—the most experienced and valued resources in luxury travel—have supported Crystal and have voted for Crystal as the best of the best for so many years, “ says Gregg Michel, Crystal’s president. “We appreciate their respect, their partnership and their service to their most discerning clients.”

It’s not a bad way to begin what looks to be a hugely eventful 12 months ahead. Keeping in line with its luxurious touch to all it designs, Crystal has almost 100 new shore-side excursions offering exclusive access to privileged locations. Consider a private plane ride to enjoy Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains, or a backstage peek at the Monte Carlo Ballet. Next year, the cruise line will also offer an array of sophisticated special interest cruises in everything from golf to jazz, wine and food to big band and ballroom dance.

Next year also brings two new 7-day Pacific Coast cruises between LA and Vancouver aboard the Crystal Symphony in April, as well as a return to South Africa for the first time since 2001. Crystal will also offer a series of 12-day cruises to Alaska departing from San Francisco, plus more than 80 combo cruises throughout Europe with no repeating of ports. Among the maiden calls for 2011: Komodo, Indonesia; Golfo de Papagayo, Costa Rica; the Greek island of Kefalonia; Koper, Slovenia; St. Martin’s Marigot Bay, and Fethiye and Trabzon in Turkey.

The cruise line is also extending its Two-for-One fares through next year and its Free Air Program, which allows passengers to receive complimentary air from more than 20 North American gateways.

Clients who don’t mind taking a third of the year off may still be able to find a spot on the 110-day World Cruise from LA to London, which visits Australia and New Zealand, South Pacific, Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. It’s available in seven segments that start at $6,500 (for the LA to Papeete segment); the 110-day adventure starts at $53,240.

And it’s certainly not too early to book a spot aboard the 2012 World Cruise, a roundtrip, 94-day jaunt departing from LA and visiting 35 ports with multiple overnight stays. Among the destinations included: Hawaii, the South Pacific, eastern and western Australia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Japan, Russia, and Alaska, plus an inclusive 3-night land program to Beijing.

One of the cruise line’s most innovative programs for 2011 is You Care, We Care, offering clients enriching experiences while giving back to the places they visit. Every 2011 itinerary will offer one complimentary Crystal Adventures shore excursion that lets them participate with a local charitable project, including working to improve school conditions in Guayaquil or volunteering at Cape Town’s Desmond Tutu Peace Center & Habitat for Humanity International. In turn, for every World Heritage Site visited on 2011 Crystal Adventures, the cruise line will donate a portion of the excursions’ fare to their preservation.