Crystal Cruises to rise again under new owners

5d ago

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It looks like luxury cruise operator Crystal Cruises will rise again.

The high-end travel company A&K Travel Group on Wednesday announced it had bought the bankrupt line’s brand name and two biggest oceangoing ships, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, with plans to relaunch the brand in 2023.

The purchase of the two oceangoing ships was done in conjunction with Heritage, the holding company controlled by former Silversea Cruises owner Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, A&K said.

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Lefebvre d’Ovidio also owns a controlling stake in A&K Travel Group, the parent company of luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent. He serves as its co-chairman alongside founder Geoffrey Kent.

The announcement comes as various pieces of Crystal Cruises are being sold off by liquidators for the brand, which collapsed along with its parent company Genting Hong Kong earlier this year after revenues plummeted due to COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns.

“I am thrilled to start this new chapter and to be back in an industry that has always had, and always will have a special place in my heart,” Lefebvre d’Ovidio said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

He and his family have a long history in the cruise business. They owned Sitmar Cruises, which later was merged into Princess Cruises, in the 1980s, and later founded Silversea. Lefebvre d’Ovidio sold Silversea to Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, in two transactions starting in 2018.

“Selling the cruise business that belonged to my family for a quarter of a century was a difficult decision, as I knew I would miss this industry immensely,” Lefebvre d’Ovidio said in the statement. “Therefore, when the opportunity arose to acquire Crystal Cruises, I did not think about it twice.”

Lefebvre d’Ovidio owns 85% of A&K Travel Group, with the remainder owned by Kent. The two luxury travel pioneers have been friends for decades.

“The idea of combining the unparalleled onboard service that Crystal Cruises is known for, with the extraordinary tailor-made experiences Abercrombie & Kent has been successfully providing for our guests for the past 60 years, fills me with excitement, enthusiasm and pride,” Kent said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

Crystal Cruises suspended operations in January after its parent company, Genting Hong Kong, ran out of money and filed for a type of bankruptcy that involves a complete liquidation of the firm. In addition to Crystal Cruises, subsidiaries of Genting Hong Kong that controlled Asia-based Dream Cruises and Star Cruises also are being liquidated.

Related: Giant Dream Cruises ship to be scrapped before it ever sails

In its announcement, A&K Travel Group only mentioned restarting Crystal Cruises with the two ocean ships that it had acquired.

The fate of several more pieces of Crystal Cruises, most notably its river cruise division, which includes five vessels, and its new expedition ship, Crystal Endeavor, have yet to be announced by the brand’s liquidators.

A&K Travel Group and Heritage didn’t reveal how much they paid for the two Crystal ships, which were auctioned off to the highest bidder in the Bahamas last week.

Both of the ships will undergo extensive refurbishments before being put back in service, A&K Travel Group said.

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Featured image courtesy of Crystal Cruises. 

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