Crystal Cruises offers a ride in a $2.2 million personal submarine

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Still, in the cruise industry, ships are constantly trying to outdo each other with one innovation after the next — zip lines, ice-skating rinks, bowling alleys at sea.

This sub is a true game-changer, according to Anne Morgan Scully, president of McCabe World Travel. “People want something to talk about,” Scully says. “And this is extraordinary.”

John Stoll, vice president of land programs for Crystal, points out that the sub is a first for the cruise industry. “We pride ourselves on being pioneers in this space,” he says.

For years, Crystal Cruises was one of the few lines that didn’t compete on that level, relying instead on two ultra-luxury mid-sized ships to deliver high levels of service with butlers and all-inclusive amenities like free caviar. After the company was bought for $550 million in 2015 by China-based Genting Hong Kong, it embarked on a dizzying expansion plan that included a private 88-passenger jet called the Crystal Skye, river ships and more.

Cruise Critic’s Brown predicts that cruise lines like Crystal will continue to step up offerings.

“We expect the addition of more really unusual toys going forward,” she says. “Small ships are looking for ever more innovative options for travelers to experience the world, rather than just see it.”

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