Genting Hong Kong Appoints Tom Wolber as President & CEO of Crystal Cruises

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Newport Beach, CA
3,520 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Just my two cents. My DH and I just love Crystal, but we just cringe when we think of a long time in those very small cabins. My DH Is 6'5" and he needs space. In addition to that, we do like at least a separate half bath. That is just the basics.

We love the dining at Crystal and since we eat on the early side we have always been able to have the same table at the same time and that is a good thing.

I am violently opposed to the extra charge for the specialty restaurants. I dearly LOVE Silk Road, but would rather die than spend another $60 over what we spend for the cruise for a PS at least. No way. That is probably a deal breaker.

Absolutely LOVE the enrichment programs.

Since I am from Hawaii...being kind of a cultural thing, I thought when Genting took it over from NYK it would go downhill. I think I am right.

We are on a hold pattern now, but love the old timers, love the diningroom, hate the cabins and now really am out to lunch with the whole product!
2,830 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
As the line has become more port intensive enrichment offerings are slimmer. There is still much we enjoy about Crystal but some of that special feel has lessened and other upscale lines have upped their game.
246 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by PaulaJK
As the line has become more port intensive enrichment offerings are slimmer. There is still much we enjoy about Crystal but some of that special feel has lessened
This is SO true! And this is really felt on the shorter cruises now....sigh....
1,988 Posts
Joined May 2000
There has been a good deal of discussion during the past week as to whether Crystal under Edie was wise to have branched out into areas other than ocean cruising, while allowing the core product to atrophy. My own perspective is that this was a mistake, though BWI Vince made a compelling case that it might have been a good (or at least defensible) strategy. (I would like Vince as my attorney when I am next indicted.)

Mark Conroy, MD for the Americas at Silversea, recently had an open forum on the Silversea CC forum. A poster named Stumblefoot suggested that Silversea should branch out into areas other than ocean cruising and allow people to enjoy the Silversea experience in other ways. Here is his response:

Stumblefoot,

Thank you for your question. Silversea is a cruise company first and foremost and will continue to look for ways in which to provide the best cruising experience for our guests. There are exciting enhancements which will be announced soon, but our focus is and continues to be on our cruises.

Kind regards,
Mark
1,988 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by skybluewaters
Tom Wolber was at the handover ceremony and christening of the Crystal Mahler at the shipyard in Germany today.
I guess that's his first official public event as CEO.
Here is a press release and photo. To my mind, the fact that Wolber is at the side of the photo and not at the center speaks volumes about the way he will position himself at Crystal. I like the sound of that.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-relea...300523011.html
1,487 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Originally posted by jeax
This is SO true! And this is really felt on the shorter cruises now....sigh....

That's why I only go on longer cruises with lots of sea days.
2,961 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by Observer
There has been a good deal of discussion during the past week as to whether Crystal under Edie was wise to have branched out into areas other than ocean cruising, while allowing the core product to atrophy. My own perspective is that this was a mistake, though BWI Vince made a compelling case that it might have been a good (or at least defensible) strategy. (I would like Vince as my attorney when I am next indicted.)

Mark Conroy, MD for the Americas at Silversea, recently had an open forum on the Silversea CC forum. A poster named Stumblefoot suggested that Silversea should branch out into areas other than ocean cruising and allow people to enjoy the Silversea experience in other ways. Here is his response:

Stumblefoot,

Thank you for your question. Silversea is a cruise company first and foremost and will continue to look for ways in which to provide the best cruising experience for our guests. There are exciting enhancements which will be announced soon, but our focus is and continues to be on our cruises.

Kind regards,
Mark
Thanks -- that's the nicest thing someone has said about me in a while.

It's funny that it was Silversea, because they are kind of the model for part of that strategy that Crystal mapped out. Silversea expanded into adjacent markets (like expedition cruising) to a] bulk up and increase efficiency they couldn't easily get in their saturated legacy market, b] mitigate risk from being too exposed in one segment, and c] pull adjacent market customers into their brand by tapping a new segment.

Unlike Genting's need for a luxury brand for their existing portfolio of products to expand "up" to, I think Silversea would need to fund a mate with these services like Crystal did before they leave the sea.

Vince
Maine
1,315 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Although I personally don't think Edie was as successful as someone in her position needs to be I think we need to wait a bit. Symphony is about to do her re-fit (re-imagined). If open seating works well that is a definite positive for her - if not or if service or quality of food goes down then it would be a final nail in her Crystal career. As I have said several times for those who don't do suites the re-fit has done nothing for the issues people complain about. If the reason "young" don't do Crystal is cabin size these re-fits do nothing for that issue.
I also object and won't pay for additional specialty restaurants. There was an issue with some people not being able to get reservations and there are plenty of ways to handle that - but they chose money. People may say the total isn't much for Crystal's bottom line but I'll take the money they make on that. The fact that this isn't going away with open seating also bothers me.
2,961 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by ctjon
I also object and won't pay for additional specialty restaurants. There was an issue with some people not being able to get reservations and there are plenty of ways to handle that - but they chose money. People may say the total isn't much for Crystal's bottom line but I'll take the money they make on that. The fact that this isn't going away with open seating also bothers me.
It's probably worth noting Crystal also didn't add any additional specialty restaurants with an additional fee either though. To your point they didn't lift the fee on extra Prego/Umi Uma/Sushi Bar visits yet (at least until they see how the dynamic of the new dining schema impacts them), but clearly adding extra fee dining was not one of Crystal's goals either.

Vince
89 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
"Time will tell" is the oft used response when we try to evaluate decisions taken in respect of Crystal. We remember it was much used when Genting Hong Kong acquired the brand, and more so when Eddie Rodriguez and the Chairman unveiled the new Crystal. So as we are the point of Eddie Rodriguez's departure just what has time told us about that period of history.

The Promise
It was in July 2015 that I and many others who were on the Presidents Cruise gathered in the Galaxy Theater to hear details from the Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay and the President and CEO Edie Rodriguez of the highly-anticipated expansion of Crystal Cruises.

At an early stage in the presentation the Chairman stated, “Our intent is to make Crystal Cruises the core of what will become the world’s premier luxury hospitality and lifestyle brand portfolio, not only for the immediate future but for years to come”.
As I reflect on the recent departure of Eddie Rodriguez and in the light of the oft repeated “time will tell” phrase I thought I would look back and see exactly what time has told in respect of the Genting Hong Kong commitments of July 2015.


Much was announced in July 2015 including, an expansion into yacht cruising in December 2015 through a rebuild of an existing Genting vessel which would become the Crystal Esprite, the creation of Crystal River cruising with the first of 6 planned river cruise ships due to launch in the spring of 2017, the launch of Cristal Air providing 30 day round the world “air cruises”

I recall that at that stage of the presentation and notwithstanding the comments of the Chairman I was becoming a little concerned regarding where my interests – almost exclusively ocean cruising – would fit in all this.

However in the latter part of the announcement Crystal set out their continued commitment to the ocean market by announcing not one but three new “Crystal Exclusive Class,” cruise ships and confirming that Genting Hong Kong has signed a letter of intent with Lloyd Werft in Germany to build these polar ice class capable vessels the first of which was due in late 2018.

The new ships would be all-suite and all balcony and accommodate 1,000 guests, similar to the then capacity on the Symphony and the Serenity, and weigh more than 100,000 gross tons. Situated on the top deck were to be 48 private homes, with their own private restaurant, reception and facilities.

The Reality

The promise contained brave intentions indeed and the intervening 27 months has certainly seen brand expansion but perhaps not unexpectedly without some pretty major “realignments”. The realignment started just 9 months later when in April 2016 Crystal pushed back the date of the first new ocean ship from late 2017 to the fall of 2018. Subsequent changes have pushed these launch dates back as far as 2022 – currently about 4 years later that originally promised.

I think the Insider Travel Report article referenced by Bodogbodog (post #120) contains the most complete analysis to date regarding the reality of what was achieved. It recognized what Edie Rodriguez had achieved in launching multiple brands and it noted the high regard she is held in by may agents specifically mentioning her accomplishments stamina and dedication.

However, in relation to the scaling back of the July 2015 commitments it notes the order for the new build river cruise ships was reduced from 6 to 4 and the introduction of the first two delayed for at least 2 months.
It further notes the introduction the new yacht Crystal Endeavor is delayed until 2019. In respect of Ocean ships, it confirms the first Ocean ship has been delayed until 2022 and that there is in fact only one signed order – not three.

The air cruise proposition, as many on this board will know has morphed into an air charter business industry speculation being the ticket price of some $150,000 was simply too high to make the previous option viable.

Time has Told
So achievements yes which should be recognized particularly in a week when Crystal takes delivery of its second new build river cruise ship and Symphony enters its much anticipated long dry dock.
But many significant setbacks also – not just those set out by Insider Travel report but which must include the significant over hyping of the SS United States proposition and the pretty disastrous management of the web site developments.

For me as someone whose interest in Crystal has and as is likely to remain very substantially in its Ocean Cruising offering, whilst we are now seeing start of the more extensive dry dock enhancements of Symphony including the introduction of 3 new restaurants.

However when set against the promise of July 2015 of 3 new ships my assessment has to be that 3 new restaurants even with other enhancements just doesn't cut it.

So my personal assessment is the future has been a disappointment.

The New Future
As he takes over at Crystal I guess the new leader will not be short of suggestions but here are my three anyway!

Firstly - move Crystal to an "under promise and over deliver" philosophy
Secondly - abandon the marketing focus on “exclusivity” which over the last few years had morphed into something embarrassingly ostentatious
Finally - increase the focus on the need for new Ocean Cruising ships before 2022.

The first two will be relatively easy to implement the third less so. Will they be implemented - only time will tell.
873 Posts
Joined May 2013
I would hope open dining isn't instituted in the specialty restaurants, it's impossible to get in on the Asia itineraries, even with reservations! We're happy to pay the extra $30.
481 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
TCMcmullen, your observations were thoughtful and nicely expressed. Your three suggestions are excellent, especially the Under Promise and Over Deliver.

My major suggestion is to recognize the outstanding contributions of the crew and keep them happy. Service is one of the major factors that keeps us coming back.
Sydney, Australia
4,779 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Originally posted by tmcmullan
"Time will tell" is the oft used response when we try to evaluate decisions taken in respect of Crystal. We remember it was much used when Genting Hong Kong acquired the brand, and more so when Eddie Rodriguez and the Chairman unveiled the new Crystal. So as we are the point of Eddie Rodriguez's departure just what has time told us about that period of history
What an excellent post - well thought out and expressed
I agree wholeheartedly
Dubai, U.A.E.
2,311 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by ChansonDeLaMer
TCMcmullen, your observations were thoughtful and nicely expressed. Your three suggestions are excellent, especially the Under Promise and Over Deliver.
Couldn't agree more, an excellent post from tcmcmullan...

Anne...
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Crystal Mozart: Vienna to Vienna, Sept. 2016
Crystal Symphony: Miami/San Juan/Rio, Dec. 2015
Crystal Symphony: New York to Dover, June 2015
Crystal Serenity: Istanbul to Venice, October 2013
Crystal Symphony: Istanbul - Rome, July 2013
Crystal Symphony: Auckland - Melbourne, Dec. 2012
Crystal Symphony: Southampton - Hamburg, May 2012
Crystal Symphony: Alaska, August 2011
Crystal Symphony: Dubai - Athens, May 2010
Azamara Quest: Singapore - Hong Kong, Jan. 2009
Crystal Serenity: Black Sea - August 2008
Crystal Symphony:Gulf of Mexico & Panama Canal Dec.2007
QM2 Transatlantic: NY - S'hampton June 2007
Crystal Serenity: E. Caribbean January 2007
Crystal Symphony: Rome - Dover, August 2006
Oceania Insignia: Western Med., August 2005
Home
2,017 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by tmcmullan
"Time will tell" is the oft used response when we try to evaluate decisions taken in respect of Crystal. We remember it was much used when Genting Hong Kong acquired the brand, and more so when Eddie Rodriguez and the Chairman unveiled the new Crystal. So as we are the point of Eddie Rodriguez's departure just what has time told us about that period of history.

The Promise
It was in July 2015 that I and many others who were on the Presidents Cruise gathered in the Galaxy Theater to hear details from the Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay and the President and CEO Edie Rodriguez of the highly-anticipated expansion of Crystal Cruises.

At an early stage in the presentation the Chairman stated, “Our intent is to make Crystal Cruises the core of what will become the world’s premier luxury hospitality and lifestyle brand portfolio, not only for the immediate future but for years to come”.
As I reflect on the recent departure of Eddie Rodriguez and in the light of the oft repeated “time will tell” phrase I thought I would look back and see exactly what time has told in respect of the Genting Hong Kong commitments of July 2015.


Much was announced in July 2015 including, an expansion into yacht cruising in December 2015 through a rebuild of an existing Genting vessel which would become the Crystal Esprite, the creation of Crystal River cruising with the first of 6 planned river cruise ships due to launch in the spring of 2017, the launch of Cristal Air providing 30 day round the world “air cruises”

I recall that at that stage of the presentation and notwithstanding the comments of the Chairman I was becoming a little concerned regarding where my interests – almost exclusively ocean cruising – would fit in all this.

However in the latter part of the announcement Crystal set out their continued commitment to the ocean market by announcing not one but three new “Crystal Exclusive Class,” cruise ships and confirming that Genting Hong Kong has signed a letter of intent with Lloyd Werft in Germany to build these polar ice class capable vessels the first of which was due in late 2018.

The new ships would be all-suite and all balcony and accommodate 1,000 guests, similar to the then capacity on the Symphony and the Serenity, and weigh more than 100,000 gross tons. Situated on the top deck were to be 48 private homes, with their own private restaurant, reception and facilities.

The Reality

The promise contained brave intentions indeed and the intervening 27 months has certainly seen brand expansion but perhaps not unexpectedly without some pretty major “realignments”. The realignment started just 9 months later when in April 2016 Crystal pushed back the date of the first new ocean ship from late 2017 to the fall of 2018. Subsequent changes have pushed these launch dates back as far as 2022 – currently about 4 years later that originally promised.

I think the Insider Travel Report article referenced by Bodogbodog (post #120) contains the most complete analysis to date regarding the reality of what was achieved. It recognized what Edie Rodriguez had achieved in launching multiple brands and it noted the high regard she is held in by may agents specifically mentioning her accomplishments stamina and dedication.

However, in relation to the scaling back of the July 2015 commitments it notes the order for the new build river cruise ships was reduced from 6 to 4 and the introduction of the first two delayed for at least 2 months.
It further notes the introduction the new yacht Crystal Endeavor is delayed until 2019. In respect of Ocean ships, it confirms the first Ocean ship has been delayed until 2022 and that there is in fact only one signed order – not three.

The air cruise proposition, as many on this board will know has morphed into an air charter business industry speculation being the ticket price of some $150,000 was simply too high to make the previous option viable.

Time has Told
So achievements yes which should be recognized particularly in a week when Crystal takes delivery of its second new build river cruise ship and Symphony enters its much anticipated long dry dock.
But many significant setbacks also – not just those set out by Insider Travel report but which must include the significant over hyping of the SS United States proposition and the pretty disastrous management of the web site developments.

For me as someone whose interest in Crystal has and as is likely to remain very substantially in its Ocean Cruising offering, whilst we are now seeing start of the more extensive dry dock enhancements of Symphony including the introduction of 3 new restaurants.

However when set against the promise of July 2015 of 3 new ships my assessment has to be that 3 new restaurants even with other enhancements just doesn't cut it.

So my personal assessment is the future has been a disappointment.

The New Future
As he takes over at Crystal I guess the new leader will not be short of suggestions but here are my three anyway!

Firstly - move Crystal to an "under promise and over deliver" philosophy
Secondly - abandon the marketing focus on “exclusivity” which over the last few years had morphed into something embarrassingly ostentatious
Finally - increase the focus on the need for new Ocean Cruising ships before 2022.

The first two will be relatively easy to implement the third less so. Will they be implemented - only time will tell.
Thanks a lot for this post. It provides a comprehensive assessment which is very clear to understand.
Ivi
Florida
4,103 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
Originally posted by maggie.1008
Now I am caught up. These posts remind me of when Edie left Azamara.
Thank you for this post! Glad you're caught up now.
San Francisco
26 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
I so agree about moving away from the “exclusivity” marketing for Crystal. My wife and I have become embarrassed to mention that we are Crystal fans when discussing our travels with our friends; we're afraid they're going to think we're a couple of snobs if they go look at the (broken) website. I've really found it to be offensive.
Gibsonton, Florida
1,161 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Originally posted by tmcmullan
The New Future
As he takes over at Crystal I guess the new leader will not be short of suggestions but here are my three anyway!

Firstly - move Crystal to an "under promise and over deliver" philosophy
Secondly - abandon the marketing focus on “exclusivity” which over the last few years had morphed into something embarrassingly ostentatious
Finally - increase the focus on the need for new Ocean Cruising ships before 2022.

The first two will be relatively easy to implement the third less so. Will they be implemented - only time will tell.
In other words, enter logic into the business plan. Done.
Los Angeles
694 Posts
Joined Jul 2016
I just received a Crystal brochure yesterday, clearly conceived prior to the management change, with a special message from Edie on page three...”Introducing shorter getaways that inspire lifelong memories.” The basic concept is that on certain cruises one can book not only the full cruise, but also shorter segments to save money and time. For instance, on one 17 day cruise, they’re also selling 4, 13 and 8 day segments as mini-cruises.

This sounds to me like a bad, somewhat desperate idea that further reinforces my decision not to travel on Crystal. If I’m going to pay for a very pricey voyage on a supposedly upper end cruise ship, and travel to some far corner of the world for unique and exotic ports, the last thing I want is a continuous inflow and outflow of new passengers...kind of like a bus, I guess. And, though I’ve never really considered this before, I think part of the fun of a cruise is experiencing and befriending fellow cruisers who are experiencing the same voyage, for the same duration.

In this new scenario, I guess it’s theoretically possible that over the course of one cruise, the cabin next door might have three separate parties move in and out. The brochure itself, by the way, has kind of a low end feel to it, where a number of cheaper, shorter options are confusingly offered for each cruise listed.

It’s just a sad effort that diminishes the brand...one final embarrassment before new management takes over. I sincerely hope Crystal moves away from this new direction.



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