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A&K Travel Group acquires Crystal Cruises name and two ships

Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity heading for refurbishment
A&K Travel Group, owned by Geoffrey Kent and Heritage Group, chaired by Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, acquired Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony.

The two luxury ships were acquired at auction with Crystal Symphony going for $25m and Crystal Serenity for $103m.

Lefebvre d’Ovidio, former owner and executive chairman of Silversea Cruises, confirmed to Seatrade Cruise News in February Heritage had made two fully funded offers for Crystal Cruises before and after the liquidation of Genting Hong Kong.

Crystal brand lives on

The two ships will resume service in 2023 after undergoing extensive refurbishment and will operate under the Crystal Cruises brand that has also been acquired by A&K Travel Group Ltd. 

'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,' said Lefebvre d’Ovidio, co-chairman of A&K Travel Group Ltd., Crystal Cruises and Abercrombie & Kent.

His family acquired control of Sitmar Cruises 35 years ago, building three cruise ships, and 'pioneered a new way of cruising' he added.

'Our goal was to deliver the best experience, pampering guests from all over the world with around-the-clock butler service and extraordinary culinary experiences. 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. 

'Therefore, when the opportunity arose to acquire Crystal Cruises, I did not think about it twice. Having next to me my incredible friend and inspiring leader Geoffrey Kent makes this venture even more enjoyable,' he said.

Co-Chairman of A&K Travel Group Ltd and Crystal Cruises, and Founder, Co-Chairman and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent Geoffrey Kent commented, '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.'

Cristina Levis

Crystal Cruises and Abercrombie & Kent will report to Cristina Levis, CEO of A&K Travel Group and former MD of Silversea Expeditions, who commented: 'My return to luxury cruising after five years brings back so many emotions. It is an immense privilege to serve these two incredible brands that in the past decades have disrupted the travel industry numerous times. Manfredi, Geoffrey and I look forward to welcoming past Crystal and Abercrombie & Kent guests onboard, as well as those seeking rewarding luxury experiences.'
A&K Travel Group Ltd. has partnered with V.Ships Leisure for this acquisition. V.Ships Leisure served as the custodian for Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity during their arrest in the Bahamas. 

Global law firm Paul Hastings LLP acted for A&K Travel Group Ltd., led by London M&A partner Matthew Poxon, working with London Finance partners David Ereira and Peter Hayes, and New York Finance partner John Storz. Associates Elizabeth Athanassios, Dante Adams, Rohin Gosh Dastidar and Cole Harlan were also part of the legal team. Callenders Law acted for A&K Travel Group Ltd. in respect of Bahamian law, while HFW and Stephenson Harwood LLP provided maritime law expertise.
CMC Capital, Limited advised A&K Travel Group Ltd. in the acquisition.

See also 'High hopes for Crystal Cruises' revival but "fences to mend"'