After Sale, New Ship for Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises is being sold to Genting Hong Kong (GHK), owner of Star Cruises, which will add to the luxury brand's fleet with a new ship. // Photo of Crystal Serenity by Susan J. Young

Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), Crystal Cruises’ parent company since its inception in 1988, announced it has entered into an agreement with Genting Hong Kong (GHK), under which Crystal Cruises will be acquired by GHK for $550 million in cash. 

The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015. 

The announcement said that "with the support of GHK’s financial strength and expertise in ship design, Crystal Cruises’ fleet size will expand with a new ship." For many year, travel agents have asked Crystal about whether the line would build a new ship.

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"I have talked to several people about their take on this, and it seems that everyone sees this as very positive for Crystal," says Ruth Turpin, owner, Cruises Etc., Fort Worth, TX. "Crystal has been purchased by GHK, an investment company with a lot of money. This is going to allow Crystal to go forward quickly with a new ship, which they have needed badly." 

Turpin says Crystal's loyal clients have been asking for a new vessel for a long time. 

"This purchase will be very positive for Crystal," Turpin stresses. "It's my understanding they plan to leave management and employees in place, and this will be vital because the success of Crystal has been its great management and the wonderful employees both on land and at sea."

Crystal Serenity // Photo by Susan J. Young

Over the past few years, the line has spent a sizable amount in renovating and updating its existing fleet. Currently, Crystal operates two ships with a total of 1,992 berths -- Crystal Symphony, launched in 1995, and Crystal Serenity, launched in 2003.

“After 25 successful years with NYK, we are excited to have Genting Hong Kong as the new owner of Crystal Cruises,” said Edie Rodriguez, president and chief operating officer, Crystal Cruises. “The proposed expansion of our fleet will present our loyal Crystal Society members and new luxury cruise guests with more itinerary options, accommodation choices and exceptional vacation experiences, as we continue to position Crystal as the innovative leader in global luxury cruising."

She continued: "Additionally, Crystal’s veteran leadership, management and crew will continue to focus on our award-winning guest service and our strong partnership with the travel agent community - which now has a greater opportunity to grow their business with a larger menu of Crystal product offerings.”

Established in 1993, GHK is part of the Genting Group, a global hospitality and leisure company with business in over 20 countries, including the United States in New York, Florida and Nevada. GHK wholly owns Star Cruises, a major Asian cruise line.

GHK is also a major shareholder of Norwegian Cruise Line, although it previously received shareholder permission to sell that stake. As yet, it hasn't done so. GHK is a public company primarily listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and secondarily on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

“Crystal Cruises offers the epitome of luxury cruising and the service standard which all other cruise lines aspire to,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman, CEO and acting president of GHK. “The current management team and crew will continue to lead Crystal Cruises. Genting will provide financial resources and proven expertise in innovative ship design to build a new ship that will set the highest standard in luxury cruise ships"

He said the sale "will reinforce Crystal Cruises’ reputation as the world’s leading luxury cruise line for decades to come.”

The price for the sale was "determined on a cash-free and debt-free basis, translating into an enterprise value to lower berth ratio of approximately $276,000," said the Crystal announcement. 

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