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Crystal Cruises plans 'goodwill initiatives' to rebuild trust and confidence

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'We are committed to recreating the most luxurious, award-winning cruise brand,' Cristina Levis said
A&K Travel Group, the new owner of Crystal Cruises, is not responsible for claims related to the past owner's insolvency but aims to restore confidence in the brand.

'We recognize that we must rebuild trust and confidence and expect to soon communicate about goodwill initiatives for 2023 sailings,' said Cristina Levis, CEO of A&K Travel Group and chief investment officer for Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio's Heritage Group, which led the Crystal acquisition.

Levis spoke Tuesday to clarify Crystal Cruises' position and said 'We are committed to recreating the most luxurious, award-winning cruise brand, beginning with significant refurbishments of Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.'

Timetable and organizational announcements

Detailed plans and a timetable will be shared when finalized, along with key organizational announcements. It has already come out that Jack Anderson, immediate past president of Crystal Cruises, will play a role, and Seatrade Cruise News understands that in addition to A&K Travel Group's Monaco headquarters, there will be a Miami sales office for Crystal.

Levis also credited Crystal's 'extraordinary crew' for providing the 'unequaled difference in guest care and service, adding: 'We are reaching out to invite them back and are confident many will return.'

V.Ships Leisure, as earlier reported here, opened a recruitment site with the stated priority of welcoming back previous members of the Crystal family.

Sympathy for creditors but no involvement with assignee-handled case

Addressing the claims left by Crystal's February insolvency under Genting Hong Kong, Levis said her company sympathizes with travel partners and customers still awaiting settlements from the assignment for benefit of creditors case that commenced in Florida Feb. 11.

She referred any questions or claims to the assignee, Florida-based Michael Moecker & Associates.

'We have nothing to do with approving or paying claims'

'We are not involved in the case and have nothing to do with approving or paying claims. We are legally not a party to, and have no say, in these court-appointed efforts,' Levis said. 'This process is likely to take several months to complete, according to the assignee. Our involvement was limited to purchasing specific assets and our significant monetary effort will provide funds to make a contribution towards paying creditors.'

A&K Travel Group, via Heritage Group, bought Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity at auction for a total of $128m, and separately acquired certain assets including the Crystal brand name.

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Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity

'Fences to mend'

Retail giants like Signature Travel Network CEO Alex Sharpe have stated that A&K and Lefebvre, the former owner of Silversea Cruises, are well-positioned to rekindle Crystal Cruises, but there are 'fences to mend' on the travel advisor/customer side.

Levis voiced appreciation for the past loyalty and support of Crystal’s travel partners and clients, calling the 'expressions of hope and support from past guests ... overwhelming and heartwarming.'

Levis also said the new owners of the Crystal brand and the two ships have a 'proven track record of integrity and excellence' with the management of Abercrombie & Kent and Silversea.

Plan to offer 'open booking' for $500 deposit

'Travel advisors and their clients have been asking when they can book their next Crystal cruise,' she continued. 'While it will take some time to finalize the itineraries, our plan is to soon offer the opportunity to make an "open booking" with a nominal $500 per suite refundable deposit. 

'When the new deck plans, itineraries and pricing are complete, these open bookings will be given the first opportunity to select the voyage and suite category of their choice.'