Speaking at the official naming ceremony for Crystal Cruises' newbuild superyacht Crystal Endeavour (at MV Werften's shipyard in Stralsund Germany on June 26), GHK's President & CEO Colin Au said the Universal-class ships would be “designed like airplanes, where function is more important than form, simplifying the design and production process and reducing costs, while allowing for customization by hotel and other brands.”
The "hotel cruise ships" will feature GT 90,000 tons and max passenger capacity ~2000 (~1000 staterooms), 15 decks, LOA length 286 m (938 ft), with a range of COVID-safe features like 20% more space (due to fewer travelers), cabins that can be transformed into sitting/dining rooms, deeper cabin balconies, no-touch technologies (voice and facial recognition).
Under the concept, renowned hotel brands (like Accor, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott) would purchase the vessels to capitalize on their loyalty programs, while GHK will oversee day-to-day operations.
Construction is planned to start in 2023 with the first vessel completed in 2025.
The official naming ceremony for Crystal Endeavour was also hailed as a major milestone for GHK, which in 2020 announced it was suspending payments to financial creditors in order to preserve liquidity because of the impact of the Coronavirus/COVID crisis on its businesses.
MV Werften has since been granted ~EUR 2 billion (USD 2,39 billion) in financial assistance by the government of Germany including a EUR 300 million grant from the Economic Stabilization Fund and a EUR 1.6 billion loan for the completion of another vessel called Global Dream.