Crystal Cruises had planned to take its converted Boeing 777, the Crystal Skye, on multi-day “AirCruises” around the world in 2017 and 2018. Instead, 7 of these itineraries have been cancelled. The inaugural flight of the Crystal Skye was initially to be for the “Peninsula Grand Inaugural Crystal AirCruise” starting on August 31, 2017.
Now, the first, and it seems last, AirCruise will launch from Hong Kong on September 29, 2017 with the “Golden Week Holiday AirCruise,” set to last 10 days and 9 nights. Most itineraries were originally planned to last an average of 28 days. Passengers would have traveled to exotic locales and stay in luxury accommodations all while enjoying the amenities and comfort of the Crystal Skye’s ultra-luxury air travel experience between destinations.
The Crystal Skye is an attempt by Crystal Cruises to bring the luxury of its cruise lines to the sky. Instead of the 300+ seats of most 777s, the Crystal Skye only seats 84 guests. All seats can be flattened to 180 degrees and used as beds. The reduced number of passengers also allows the plane to feature a lounge with a full bar for guests to mingle together on the multi-day cruises. The plane also contains two galleys, managed by an executive chef.
A ticket for a seat on the cancelled AirCruise itineraries cost over US$150,000. Passengers who had booked seats on one of the seven cancelled itineraries will receive a full refund and a complimentary ticket on one of Crystal Cruises’ ocean or river cruises.
The AirCruises were an initiative that began after the Los Angeles firm was acquired by the Hong Kong based cruise and hospitality holding company, Genting Hong Kong, in 2015. Genting Hong Kong also owns Star Cruises, Dream Cruises, Resorts World Manila, and maintains a 28% holding in Norwegian Cruise Line. Kent Zhu, Genting Cruise Lines president, stated that the remaining Golden Week itinerary will appeal to Asians and particularly to high-income Chinese tourists looking for a unique and luxurious travel experience.
The move to launch the inaugural AirCruise during the Golden Week Holiday is designed to directly appeal to “three-generation families who often travel together during this extended holiday period.”
It is unclear why exactly Crystal Cruises scaled back this new effort, but Crystal Skye will continue to operate as a private charter option for the ultra wealthy.