The probability of multiple ionization of krypton by 50 femtosecond circularly polarized laser pulses, independent of the optical focal geometry, has been obtained for the first time. The excellent agreement over the intensity range 10 TWcm-2 to 10 PWcm-2 with the recent predictions of A. S. Kornev et al [Phys. Rev. A v.68, art.043414 (2003)] provides the first experimental confirmation that non-recollisional electronic excitation can occur in strong field ionization. This is particularly true for higher stages of ionization, when the laser intensity exceeds 1 PWcm-2 as the energetic departure of the ionized electron(s) diabatically distorts the wavefunctions of the bound electrons. By scaling the probability of ionization by the focal volume, we discusses why this mechanism was not apparent in previous studies.