A Look at Crystal’s First 777 “Air Cruise” Itinerary

Yesterday I wrote about the unique plane that the Vancouver Canucks chartered for their flight to China. While charters are standard for sports teams, what made this special is the type of plane they were chartering. Rather than chartering a commercial airliner, they flew the Crystal 777-200LR.

777-Crystal

I first wrote about this plane a year ago (to the day, actually), which seems like a bold move for a company that was previously primarily focused on cruising. The 777 has just 88 seats, and has a really cool looking dining area.

Crystal-777

When I first wrote about this a year ago I said the following:

This sure is an ambitious project. On one hand there’s definitely a market for people who want an all inclusive luxury vacation without having to deal with the hassles of transfers, etc.

At the same time, this is a bit different than the Four Seasons jet, since it’s not like Crystal has their own hotels that they’re flying people to. Furthermore, the fact that they’re using a 777 can be a bit limiting, since it won’t be able to land at many airports due to its size.

Four Seasons has a 757 that they use in a similar manner, though there are two major differences:

  • The 757 can land at more airports
  • Four Seasons actually has hotels to fly people inbetween, while Crystal doesn’t

So it has been interesting to see how this project has developed. On yesterday’s post, reader usr22 shared a link to the brochure that outlines Crystal’s first “air cruise.” On one hand I’m surprised it isn’t more expensive. On the other hand, I’m underwhelmed by what they’re offering.

Crystal’s first air cruise will be from October 1-8, 2017, and will travel from Hong Kong/Macau to Fiji and Tahiti. The cost will start at $18,000 per person, though the terms state that this itinerary and pricing is contingent upon at least 70 confirmed guests. I get they don’t want to lose money on it, but at the same time, are they going to cancel the trip last minute, or otherwise raise the price if there aren’t enough passengers?

Here’s the itinerary:

The puzzling part about the whole Crystal thing is that they don’t have their own hotels, so I reached out to ask what “Luxury Hotels” were included:

  • 3 nights at the Marriott Fiji in a Lagoon View Room
  • 1 night at the InterContinental Papeete in a Garden View or Lagoon Room
  • 2 nights at the Conrad Bora Bora in a King Garden Villa or Overwater Villa

Those are perfectly fine hotels, though there are much better hotels in Fiji and Tahiti. It just seems a bit odd to offer a private 777-200LR (which is one of the most extravagant things imaginable), only to put you up at a Marriott.

As a point of comparison, Four Seasons charges $135,000 per person for a three week trip. So in terms of cost this is a much lower, but it also seems like the value proposition isn’t as strong.

I’m still not sure what Crystal was thinking with the “air cruises” idea, as much as the thought of a “cruise on a 777” sounds like a dream come true to me. 😉

I guess they’re going after a totally different market here. Based on everything I’ve read, it seems they’re marketing heavily towards younger (super wealthy) Chinese travelers, so maybe the concept has more appeal in China.

What do you guys think?

Comments

  1. Isn’t that short window to allow for 70 people to book a vacation that costs $18kpp? They must be heavily targeting the Chines Holidays. I believe Golden Week Festival happens around this time. Still….best of luck to them.

  2. so if you price this out separately what does it cost? The flights aren’t all that long so you don’t even get to enjoy the 777 all that much

  3. I would be upset if I was at a standard Marriott. I’m staying at this property on points in late October which is great since its free and not part of an 18K package.

  4. I’d understood from a ranking sales official in Crystal they’ve pretty much abandoned this model. Sales were weak, and the demand for charter is the better path for them to recoup their investment in the plane.

  5. Oh my God, grab Ford and review this already. I’ve been holding back signing up for the air cruise because I’m not sure about the soft product 😉

  6. Crystal’s owner, Genting, has pretty much taken over the Skye. Originally they were going to have gambling tables onboard as Genting’s core business is gambling/casinos. They are appealingly to the Chinese high roller market. The plane was owned by Genting and then transferred to Crystal as part of an attempt to expand their “all things Crystal” and “all exclusive” branding. They also had an ERJ that seems to have disappeared from the radar. Not sure where that bird went.

    All of the air cruises that Crystal promoted have been cancelled due to soft sales. They had some nice itineraries but exhausting. No more than 3 nts at any place and it was more like a marathon. So now it’s only charters.

    I do not like the layout of the plane and dont like that a window seat occupant has to climb over the seat next to them. Then again, they are gearing this to couples so I guess that it’s better to have the seats next to each other.

    Originally they trained the Crystal vessels butlers to be FAs. No clue if they still are there.

    The pricing is really steep based on the room categories and properties chosen. I guess the ease of access since nobody flies non stop from Macao to Tahiti is worth something.

  7. Apparently all this expansion has not gone well for Crystal and the parent company has decided to let go of the CEO and replace her, very recently.

  8. Kind of cool though to go travel “back in time” for almost an entire day when they travel from Fiji to Tahiti.
    I think their stay in Bora Bora is way too short compared to Fiji.

  9. My friend is Vice President of Sales at Crystal and we spoke about their new jet. It is my understanding from speaking with her that this is a charter-only experience. The plane only flies when it has been chartered and the customer decides on the entire itinerary. They will not have predetermined itineraries and seats available for purchase.

  10. Does Bora Bora have a Motel 6 or a Super 8 where they could put everyone up? Free case of Olde English 800 thrown in to sweeten the deal.

  11. So do you have your tickets yet, Lucky?

    If they go charter only, maybe you can organize a flight for yourself and your more well to do readers.

  12. Ditto @Scudder
    Ditto @Crystal
    Ditto @EthaninSf
    Ditto @Pam
    The original concept was a flop and resulted in the resignation of the Chm who will
    no doubt resurface somewhere in the industry and make the same mistakes.
    The 777 will become a toy for the owners at their whim.
    Scary the window seat….and no showers.

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