What happened to Crystal and what’s next? : Travel Weekly

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Johanna Jainchill

Genting Hong Kong, which collapsed over the course of a few weeks this month, left the fate of Crystal Cruises up in the air and left travel advisers wondering how this could have happened to a brand that celebrated the its 30th anniversary last year.

As of now, Crystal has suspended ocean cruises until April 29 and river cruises until May. Parent company Genting Hong Kong, which also owns the Asian-focused Star Cruises and Dream Cruises lines, is now overseen by court-appointed provisional liquidators in Bermuda, where the company is registered, who will ultimately determine the comes out of all its trumps.

While multiple factors contributed to its demise, Genting Hong Kong is certainly the biggest cruise line to be wrecked by the pandemic. When Covid hit and the cruise industry was grounded, major US-headquartered cruise lines almost immediately raised billions in cash through funding, and they kept doing it all throughout the pandemic, allowing them to stay afloat even when cruising from US ports was banned. for more than a year.

Genting Hong Kong, on the other hand, defaulted in the summer of 2020. Although a state-owned company, it is mostly family-owned and is also part of a larger conglomerate of companies that operate casinos around the world (which were also closing). Crystal is Genting’s smallest cruise brand, eclipsed in tonnage by the larger Star and Dream ship lines – but it’s a brand for which Genting had huge growth ambitions.

She bought Crystal in 2015 and expanded the brand into a new line of river cruises and added a high-end yacht and expedition vessel to the brand’s ocean offerings. He bought an airplane for Crystal-branded private jet travel. He intended to expand his basic ocean product with new ships (originally with residences). Along the way, he invested in German shipyards, not only to build Crystal’s ships, but also a 9,000-passenger ship for his Dream brand that would be the largest cruise ship in the world (it’s still at the moment). worksite).

Since 2020, Crystal has sold her yacht to Lindblad Expeditions and last summer denied rumors that her river fleet was for sale. Things seemed to be looking up last summer when his river vessels and two ocean vessels were returned to service and he took delivery of his expedition vessel.

Dietmar Wertanzl, CEO of CMI Leisure Management, a hospitality service provider for expedition ships, was Crystal’s first hotel manager and senior vice president of hotel operations for eight years before leaving for executive positions at Celebrity Cruises and Cruise West. He said the collapse of the German shipyard was the nail in Genting’s coffin.

“Shipyard activity in Germany certainly dragged them down,” Wertanzl said. “It was a heavy burden… They miscalculated this whole shipyard deal. And the Chinese market also crashed. They really struggled everywhere.”

What could be the next step for Crystal?

He thinks there could still be a future for Crystal, depending on how the liquidation goes, especially now that the range is said to be selling well. He said during the pandemic at least two buyers have made offers and they may still be interested. A potential obstacle is that the range has grown so much from its original product.

“Nobody wanted the plane,” Wertanzl said. “And some people don’t like the river cruise business; they prefer to just go back to the ocean core business, including the expedition vessel. But the river cruise business for some people didn’t make sense. So it depends: They might split from the river cruise business or they might sell it and the brand name with the ocean and expedition vessels Or just get the whole thing for one price reduced. Now everyone is waiting for a discount. This is the right time to buy Cristal.”

If anyone buys it, he said, they will need to have the resources to order new ships – Crystal’s two ocean-going vessels were built in 1995 and 2003 – and, very importantly, to restore confidence with customers and travel advisors.

“You have to have new investors with deep pockets, because Crystal needs a new ship,” Wertanzl said. “They haven’t had one for over 20 years other than the ocean side expedition ship. They need to show the world they’ve been there for at least five years, or if it’s a capital -investment, have a strategic plan to reinvent the brand.If they don’t do that, then I think everyone will lose trust and not trust the brand because they got burned.So they have to be people trustworthy people who are passionate about the brand…I hope they don’t take it apart.”

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