Crystal Cruises suspends sailings after Asian parent company warns of financial distress

·3 min read
Nancy Klingener/WLRN

Miami-based Crystal Cruises, a pioneer in luxury cruising, said it’s suspending ocean voyages through the end of April, and its future after that was unclear Thursday as its Asian parent company warned investors it expects to run out of money by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, Crystal, founded in 1988, said in a statement that halting operations would give management “an opportunity to evaluate the current state of business and examine various options moving forward.”

Crystal’s suspension news came the same day its owner, Genting Hong Kong, announced in a filing Wednesday to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it will “imminently be unable to pay its debts” and would be liquidating the company.

Genting, a global leisure hospitality company, also runs two of Asia’s largest cruise lines, Star Cruises and Dream Cruise Line.

Many cruise operators have suffered significant losses and taken on large debts throughout the ongoing pandemic that began in March 2020. The industry was unable to make any revenue for over a year due to suspending sailings during coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, before resuming operations last summer. However, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean earlier this month announced they’d suspend voyages as far out as April, due to the highly contagious and rapidly spreading omicron variant that surfaced in America in late November.

“This was an extremely difficult decision but a prudent one given the current business environment and recent developments with our parent company, Genting Hong Kong,” Crystal’s President Jack Anderson said in the statement.

Crystal officials did not respond Thursday to the Miami Herald’s request for further information about what would happen after the suspension. Anderson’s statement said the cruise line looks forward to welcoming guests back when they resume operations.

However, Peter Ricci, the director of Florida Atlantic University’s hospitality management program, said Crystal as a small luxury cruise line doesn’t have as many assets to work with to get through the pandemic. Some of the big global cruise operators like Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean — all based in the Miami area — have an array of assets they could sell and also have access to large credit lines.

“It’s likely that the parent company (Genting) will restructure and sell off Crystal Cruises,” Ricci said. “But I don’t see an obvious buyer coming in right off the bat,” he said, noting that Carnival and Norwegian already have luxury lines in their portfolios.

Crystal Cruises owns three ocean cruise ships, two of them based part of the year in Miami. The company said the three ships will complete their voyages. Crystal Symphony will dock in Miami on Jan. 22. Crystal Serenity completes its voyage in Aruba on Jan. 30, while Crystal Endeavor, which is on an Antarctica cruise, will disembark passengers on Feb. 4 in Ushuaia, Argentina.

The cruise line also has five river cruise ships, which operate in Europe. Crystal’s river cruises will be halted until at least until the end of May.

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