Qantas Frequent Flyer partnershipChristensen also used the event in Sydney this week to formally announce a new partnership with Qantas Frequent Flyer.Under the agreement, Qantas Frequent Flyer members have the opportunity to earn Qantas Points on all 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 Crystal Experiences – by ocean, river and yacht expedition.Crystal will offer up to three Qantas Points per US$1 on all Crystal Experiences including Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises itineraries.“Offering Qantas Points is a great way to reward our Crystal Society members for choosing to book with us,” saysChristensen. “Crystal has long been celebrated as the leader in luxury cruising, and this new partnership is a wonderful opportunity for Qantas customers to discover the hallmarks of the acclaimed Crystal Experience.”Qantas Loyalty Executive Manager Commercial, David Young, said: “Qantas Frequent Flyer members love to travel and the partnership with Crystal provides them with another way for them to make their whole trip more rewarding by earning points on their cruise booking as well as their flights.”Qantas’ David Young and Crystal’s Karen Christensen“It’s a fantastic partnership and I’m thrilled. We’ll be able to do a lot with that,” Christensen told LATTE.“It’s been in the pipeline for 12 months since when we started the initial discussion and I had very little doubt that it was the right partnership for us to work towards. It’s a powerful piece as a business partnership.”“Qantas truly does have a loyalty program point system. When you look at other airlines’ points systems it’s all to do with the airline and that airline’s seats, whereas Qantas isn’t solely about that, so people have more opportunity to spend their points,” she said.At this point in time, the alliance does not offer Qantas Frequent Flyers the opportunity to use their accrued points to offset the cost of a Crystal Cruise.Go back to the enewsletter Go back to the enewsletterCrystal has reported a solid start for bookings aboard the luxury cruise line’s first expedition vessel, Crystal Endeavor, a ship that is destined to call Australia home for a short period of time during its inaugural season in late 2020, offering sailings to Antarctica from Hobart and from across the ditch out of Christchurch.In Sydney this week, Crystal’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Australasia, Karen Christensen, said bookings for the 20,000-gross-tonne ship were already encouraging, two years out and for a ship whose keel-laying ceremony was conducted only weeks ago.Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises opened reservations for Crystal Endeavor to members of the luxury cruise line’s loyalty program, Crystal Society, on 8 August and to the general public two weeks later on 22 August.Bookings have been “phenomenal”, Christensen’s counterpart from Florida, Mark Spillane – Crystal Cruises’ Sales & Marketing Manager – told LATTE at a media soirée at the Sydney Opera House on Monday.“Endeavor has been very well received. The first two voyages alone are 53% sold and that includes the inaugural round-trip from Tokyo to go to the Russian Far East and the second voyage, also a round trip from Tokyo, but that’s all Japan, is selling very well,” Spillane said.Team Crystal: Mark Spillane, Karen Christensen, Kelly Moran and Kimberley TaylorThe 17-day Russian Far East maiden expedition itinerary leads in at US$23,149 per person twin share.Christensen said the interest in Japan was no surprise, with the destination experiencing the biggest growth in the past two years at Crystal “over everything else”.Christensen told LATTE she was “pleasantly surprised” by the number of sales already secured for Antarctica. That 22-day itinerary jumps to US$32,149 per person twin share, based on the 6 January 2021 departure.“In the past there’s a lot of discussion – should you go out of Ushuaia? Should you go out of Hobart, Christchurch? – but there’s an element of people that want to do close-to-home flights, which this is accommodating, and there are the people that have done Antarctica Peninsula and this is a different experience again. Endeavor is going to Mawson’s Hut and across the Ross Sea, so it’s a different area of Antarctica so we are attracting those people that perhaps have already done Antarctica previously.”Spillane added that Antarctica voyages have been very encouraging. “It’s a unique experience to go through Antarctica. Yes, some have done it before in this way, but when you bring a new ship [in to market] you never really know, but it’s been very well received.”Rendering – Crystal Endeavor, Crystal Penthouse Suite, BedroomCrystal has already released itineraries through until late January 2021 – a 22-day Antarctica sailing from Christchurch that returns to Hobart – however, details beyond mid-February 2021 are yet to be announced.When asked if Crystal Endeavor will make her way to the Arctic, likely for mid-2021, Christensen confirmed the 200-passenger ship “eventually will”. Which path she takes to reach the North Pole is also a closely guarded secret for now, however, Christensen and Spillane ruled out voyages to Cuba and the Galapagos en route.Christensen was hopeful Endeavor will return down under at the same time in late 2021, saying “I can’t see why it wouldn’t return.” During the event, she also said Crystal had options for additional expedition-class ships, and was optimistic a sister-ship would join Crystal Endeavor in the future.