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What next for Crystal Cruises?


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In our last update, we told you the story of Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio's acquisiton of Crystal Cruises, and whilst the relaunch is still something of a work in progress, we wanted to give you an update on the current situation.

Crystal aficionados will no doubt be following the various social media threads, so I wanted to start by addressing the whole question of the previous company's failure.

Crystal Cruises was owned by Genting Hong Kong, a holding company that owned Crystal Cruises, Star Cruises, Dream Cruises and the shipyard in Germany as well as some other leisure entities. Following the bankruptcy of the yard, the liquidators were called in. It is worth emphasizing that neither Manfredi Lefebvre nor the Heritage Group or its subsidiary A&K had anything to do with Crystal Cruises, although they were actively interested in buying the company as a going concern. However that was not to be, the bankers who held the mortgages on Crystal's ships pulled the plug, and the company was closed down.

Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity

Subsequently, Heritage bid at auction for the two ships Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, and in a separate deal bought the intellectual property of the company including the name, logo and, presumably, the mailing list (I am just speculating here).

I feel it is important to reiterate this, as I have read posts on facebook from indignant out of pocket former Crystal Cruisers who feel that Heritage have an obligation to refund them money they had paid to the former Crystal Cruises. It is quite clear that there is no obligation here, not even a moral one. Heritage paid top dollar for the assets they were able to acquire. As readers will know, the moral obligation of course lay with the Genting Group, who launched a new cruise line a matter of months after they had walked away from their Crystal debts and responsibilities.

Crystal Cruises announcement

The other point worth noting here is that UK clients who had paid for cruises in £ in the UK through Crystal Cruises General Sales Agent, The Cruise Portfolio, a division of Mundy Cruising, were all refunded in full by Mundy Cruising. So unlike some US clients of Crystal Cruises who were left out of pocket, no UK clients are owed money by the former Crystal Cruises (although, perhaps surprisingly, Mundy Cruising is one of their biggest creditors).

The two ships Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity can still be seen in the Fincantieri shipyard in Trieste. We know the new owners are currently in discussion with the yard, and developing the final plans for the refurbishment of the hardware.

Crystal Symphony in Rio de Janeiro

At the same time, the Miami team are hard at work developing itineraries for summer 2023 and beyond - they refer to creative, destination-led itineraries in many of the world's best cruise destinations including Alaska, Asia, Europe, Australasia and the Americas.

The secret will be to recreate the 6-star, personalized service, comfort and sophisticated atmosphere for which these ships were known. It is not for nothing that they were referred to as the World's Best. We know that many former employees have already signed up to return, and also that some key personnel from Silversea are jumping across to the 'new Crystal'.

The latest news from the company is that prior to releasing itineraries, Crystal will accept fully refundable Open Deposits of $500 per room, which will give future guests the ability to select a suite or stateroom on an itinerary or itineraries of their choice during a priority booking window when Crystal Cruises opens sales for 2023 - 2024 cruises. Mundy Cruising is standing by to help UK guests place those deposits.

New itineraries were originally due to be on sale in the final quarter of 2022, however this has been pushed back due to some uncertainty around the refurbishment completion. They'll be released before the Open Deposit priority booking window opens and new itineraries are available for sale.

Guests who have placed an Open Deposit and who then make a firm booking within a certain time period will benefit from the equivalent sum in the form of an onboard credit.

Crystal Serenity in Stockholm

Crystal's luxury expedition ship, Crystal Endeavor, which was launched in July last year, has been purchased by Silversea, and was christened just this week as Silver Endeavour in Antarctica.

Meanwhile, the veteran river vessel Crystal Mozart has been acquired by Seaside Collection, a renowned hotel group founded and controlled by Hamburg's Gerlach family, and we have to presume they have a close eye on the remainder of the fleet also.

Finally it was interesting to learn just last week that Global Dream, the vessel under construction in Germany when the yard went bust, has been acquired by Disney 'to sail for new markets outside US'.

Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos & Mekong, Thailand/Singapore/Malaysia & Philippines, Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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