It appears that Crystal Cruises' U.S. operation is closing this week, as employees at the firm's Miami headquarters' offices have received termination notices. For most, today, February 9, is their last day at work, although reportedly some others will work through the end of the week. One executive that Luxury Travel Advisor knows put up a Facebook post showing her “last drive to Crystal” yesterday.
The imminent closure of the U.S. offices was also reported by the web site, Crew-Center.com, which posted a recorded message, reportedly by one of the line's captains. In that message, he explained to crew members still aboard that Crystal is closing its U.S. offices and that V. Ships Leisure will be taking over as the new management company for ship operations.
“I have been informed that the entire Crystal Cruises office in the U.S. is closing down,” the voice recording said. Also, the purported captain’s message said: “Unfortunately, this is the end of Crystal Cruises and we don’t know what’s going to happen.
A Crystal spokesperson said there was no official statement beyond the line's previous statement provided earlier this week following Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity being "arrested" in Freeport, Bahamas.
The apparent shuttering of Crystal’s U.S. headquarters comes after recent actions taken by creditors after parent Genting Hong Kong’s “winding up” filing in a Bermuda court. That's equivalent to a bankruptcy proceeding in which a company files with the court to negotiate with creditors and attempt to reorganize, or if not, liquidate the company. Sources say that it appears that there is no longer funding for Crystal’s brand operations, and that Genting itself may be liquidated rather than reorganized.
That said, on February 8, Genting Hong Kong said that provisional liquidators had been appointed for its Asian-based Dream Cruises. The company still hopes to restructure debt so Dream Cruises can continue to operate in Asia. But it appears that in the big picture, Crystal is left out in the cold.
Both Crystal classic ocean ships, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, were “arrested” in the Bahamas last week, although it remains unclear as to “which creditors” took that action. All passengers have disembarked both those ships in the Bahamas and are either home or en route at this time. In addition, all passengers disembarked Crystal Endeavor, the line’s expedition ship, in Ushuaia, Argentina last week. They're also en route home. CruiseMapper.com shows Crystal Endeavor, the line's new expedition ship, is deadheading north and approaching Montevideo, Uruguay. The ship is expected to arrive there by Thursday.
Crew status is more tenuous. Some crew members have been repatriated from the Bahamas, while others remain on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.
German banks are the secured creditors for that expedition ship. Maritime sources say that Crystal Endeavor, which began cruising in 2021, is probably the brand’s most valuable asset, given growth and high interest in the expedition cruise sector. In addition, the line has five river vessels. Four of them are identically sized, newer sister river vessels; plus, Crystal also operates the larger Crystal Mozart. Right now, they're all laid up in Europe as it’s the off season. Those vessels also likely have value to another cruise line or someone desiring to start up a river line.
Crystal Symphony, built in 1995 and recently updated, and Crystal Serenity, completed in 2001—while maintained in excellent condition—are older, as ocean ships go.
Stay tuned for any other updates as they develop.
In a poignant tribute to the Crystal brand, the line's headquarters employees were putting up a Crystal logo in place of their personal photos on social media sites on Tuesday and Wednesday.
This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.