Skip to content

Crystal Cruises says it's 'not going out of business,' still processing refunds

Aug. 21, 2020
6 min read
Crystal Symphony
Crystal Cruises says it's 'not going out of business,' still processing refunds
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

One of the world's best-known luxury cruise lines, Crystal Cruises, tried to assuage customer fears about its viability late Thursday by issuing a statement saying it wasn't on the brink of shutting down.

"It is important to understand that the company is not going out of business," the Miami-based line said in the statement. 'Whatever option our parent company pursues, it will allow Crystal to operate its business."

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Talk of a possible collapse of Crystal Cruises was swirling on Thursday among travel agents and cruisers after the line's parent company, Hong Kong-based Genting Hong Kong, disclosed that it had stopped making payments to creditors. The company is contending with a sharp loss of revenue due to the coronavirus crisis.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's new cruise newsletter.

The announcement came two days after the company missed a 3.7 million euro payment of fees related to the construction of certain ships.

The payment was due from subsidiaries of the company related to new vessels, and the failure to pay the fees puts the subsidiaries into default, the company said.

Cruise industry publication Cruise Week on Thursday reported that the Genting Hong Kong announcement had spooked travel agents who sell Crystal voyages.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles

The 980-passenger Crystal Serenity will visit the Maldives in 2022 as part of an around-the-world voyage from Miami. (Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises)
Genting Hong Kong is the parent company of Crystal Cruises, which operates some of the world’s best-known luxury ships. Here, the 980-passenger Crystal Serenity. (Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises)

"This could be the catalyst for agents and their clients to think twice about putting down deposits or final payments" for Crystal trips, it quoted one top travel seller as saying.

Travel agents and their customers also expressed worries about refunds they were owed for canceled sailings, given Genting Hong Kong had stopped paying its creditors.

But in its statement, Crystal suggested refunds for canceled cruises continued to be processed.

"We have always been committed to honoring our contractual obligations with guests and travel partners, including the processing of refunds," the line said.

The Points Guy has received a significant number of complaints from readers in recent months about Crystal Cruises not sending them refunds for canceled trips.

"It’s been 135 days, and we have still had no resolution (i.e., refund), or any contact from Crystal Cruises," one reader, Phyllis Sims of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, wrote us several days ago.

Related: 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly

Sims and three of her friends canceled a Crystal sailing on March 25 and are owed thousands of dollars from the line. The line initially promised a refund within 90 days.

"We are not fans of a business using our money as a zero-interest loan, even with the pandemic," Sims said. "And we are just as troubled by the lack of communication from Crystal Cruises."

Sims said her in-house Crystal travel advisor had not responded to any of her queries about the refund. She said she was so fed up she just filed a dispute about the charges with American Express. She used The Platinum Card® from American Express to make the booking.

In contrast to Crystal, American Express has been "amazing" in its response, she said.

A spokesperson for Crystal Cruises, Susan Robison, has told The Points Guy on multiple occasions that the line continues to process refunds as fast as it can but has struggled with the sheer volume of refund requests.

"We have canceled hundreds of cruises and provided tens of millions of dollars of refunds," Robison said recently. "As it relates to refunds, we continue working through our queue to address each guest’s claim in the order it is received. This is a manual process and, where our reservation and payment systems can handle a normal refund environment efficiently and smoothly, they were not designed to handle this volume in such a short period of time."

Genting Hong Kong is the parent company of Crystal Cruises as well as two Asia-based cruise lines: Dream Cruises and Star Cruises. It also owns the Werften shipyard in Germany, where the first expedition ship for Crystal Cruises currently is under construction. In addition, it’s a joint venture partner in Resorts World Manila in the Philippines.

Related: Cruise executives say they are in no rush to return to service

In announcing that it had stopped making payments to creditors, the company said it hoped to negotiate a restructuring of its debt with the creditors. The company owed creditors nearly $3.4 billion as of July 31.

“The company’s remaining available cash will be reserved to maintain critical services for the group’s operations, while the company will endeavor to negotiate a holistic debt restructuring solution,” Genting Hong Kong said in a statement late Wednesday to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The company did not say how much cash it still had on hand.

In its statement, the company said it had been trying to raise more money, but “there is currently a lack of certainty as to the outcome of the fundraising exercise.”

Cruise lines have been hit hard financially in recent months as they have temporarily shut down operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Crystal recently canceled all sailings through early January 2021. The line hasn’t operated cruise departures since March, nor has Genting Hong Kong’s Star Cruises division. The company’s Dream Cruises brand has recently resumed short sailings out of Taiwan with a single vessel, the 1,856-passenger Explorer Dream. The voyages only are open to Taiwanese travelers.

Four small cruise lines already have gone out of business due to the coronavirus shutdown.

Additional resources for cruisers during the coronavirus outbreak:

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees