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Crystal Cruises: here’s what went wrong — and what happens next

A pedestrian watches as the Crystal Symphony cruise ship arrives at Flynn Cruiseport in Boston.

Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

  • Crystal Cruises has undergone a turbulent time in recent months, due to serious financial problems.
  • The latest update seemingly marks the end of the operator as it shut US offices and let workers go.
  • Insider rounded up the key events that led to its demise — and explored what happens next.

Crystal Cruises recently shut down its US operations and let its employees go, marking an end to the luxury cruise ship line. 

It was the latest in a series of unfortunate events for the company in recent months. 

So, what led to Crystal Cruises’ demise? 

Earlier this month, reports emerged that Crystal Cruises was issued with an arrest warrant in relation to a $1.2 million unpaid fuel bill owed by its parent company, Genting Hong Kong.

In January, two of its ships  — Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity — diverted to the Bahamas with hundreds of passengers on board to escape the warrant but were ultimately arrested by authorities. 

At the time of both ships’ arrest, only crew members were on board. Both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity disembarked passengers on the island of Bimini before their seizure. 

The diversions also came in the wake of Crystal Cruises’ pending liquidation of Genting Hong Kong, which was announced on January 19. It reported a record loss of $1.7 billion in 2020 as the pandemic wiped out tourism.

In an announcement made to the crew, a recording of which was posted to Twitter, the captain of the Crystal Symphony said the seizure was “unfortunate” but “actually quite expected.”

He added that: “As bad as it sounds it’s actually quite a good thing to happen.” 

What happens to the company now? 

Vessel management company V.Ships will become the new managing firm, one captain told his crew. This is according to a recording of his message posted to Twitter by Crew Center, a website run by former crew members. 

In the recording, the captain said: “Unfortunately, this is the end of Crystal Cruises.” He added: “We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”

According to the company website, Crystal Cruises said it has suspended voyages for its Ocean and Expedition ships through April 2022. 

The company also said it has paused its call center until further notice. 

What does this mean for passengers’ bookings? 

Its website states that Crystal Cruises “continues to process refunds as quickly as possible. However, there are delays from the credit card processors as they are receiving a very high volume of refund requests.” 

Laziza Lambert, director of strategic communications and public affairs for Cruise Lines International Association,  told USA Today that cruise-line-specific refund policies can be found in booking contracts, which are available from travel advisory firms and cruise lines themselves. 

 

 

 

 

 

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