By sea and by air
Crystal Cruises is a high-end luxury cruise line undergoing a wave of change. A recipient of the same “World’s Best” award from Travel & Leisure, a sister publication to Fortune, for 20 consecutive years, it also happens to have the only female CEO of a luxury cruise line. And she’s on a mission.
CEO Edie Rodriguez is focused on making a splash in the industry and with the brand since starting there in 2013. Over the course of her tenure, Crystal Cruises, which first set sail in 1990, is transforming itself beyond just offering excursions on the seas for high-end clients. Indeed, it’s adding river boats, a yacht, and soon even airplanes to its fleet of travel options.
The move to reinvent comes at a time of change for its holding company. In May 2015, Genting Hong Kong, a global hospitality and leisure company, acquired Crystal Cruises from founder Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha. Genting paid $550 million in the deal and promised to build a third ship to enlarge its fleet at the time. Genting is no stranger to cruise lines. In fact, it’s the largest cruise line in Asia, owning Star Cruises and part of Norwegian Cruise Line.
Since the acquisition, Rodriguez has been on a tear to add breadth to her company’s offerings in a bid to diversify revenue streams and, of course, keep its high-class customers happy—and spending. After all, the average household income of a typical passenger is $250,000 with a net worth of around $2 million, according to statistics from the company.
And Baby Boomers are the target audience. For instance, Boomers accounted for 36% of the line’s new guests in 2007. Now, that number is closer to 44%. Meanwhile, between 2012 and 2014, the cruise line has experienced “a nine-year difference between the average age of new guests versus. repeat guests.” While new guests are typically about 57, repeat ones are around 65.
The brand currently has two cruises ships—Serenity and Symphony—which hold approximately 1,070 and 922 passengers, respectively, and that travel the world’s oceans to and from exotic destinations like the Carribean, the Middle East, and even Antarctica. Prices for rooms range from a steep $2,265 per person up to $44,360 for suites that include a space larger than some New York City apartments. The range is based on the itinerary selected per voyage and per person, while the number of days per voyage varies, according to a company spokesperson.
For the future, the concept is this: guests take a trip on one of Crystal’s private airplanes. And after traveling by air, “we can take you to the Adriatic coast to go on the Crystal Esprit [yacht],” she said. “When that ends, we take you to another part of Europe to go on the River yacht experience.” Such a trip can wrap up with a flight to Barcelona for a stay on one of Crystal’s cruises.
“Everything we would do going forward is based around ECO, which is a three-character acronym I [came up with],” Rodriguez explained, “meaning exclusivity, customization, and options.”
“Why do I say that? Because today’s evolving global luxury consumer requires those three foundations or they don’t want to spend their time or money,” she said.
The addition of a yacht is new for the brand, and one Rodriguez has been personally keen to see happen. “To say today is a special day is an understatement,” Rodriguez said in a statement at the unveiling of the Esprit yacht earlier this year. “Since joining Crystal just over two years ago, a personal goal of mine has been to see Crystal realize the next step in continuing to pioneer luxury travel and hospitality; and today I am seeing that dream fulfilled.”
Check out Fortune’s Q&A with CEO Edie Rodriguez.