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August 23, 2020

QuirkyCruise News: Crystal ‘Not Going Out Of Business’ & Other Small-Ship Updates

Crystal Not Going Out Of Business

By Anne Kalosh.

With parent company Genting Hong Kong suspending payments to financial creditors and pursuing a restructuring, Crystal tried to calm fears about its own viability by issuing a statement.

Not going out of business

“It is important to understand that the company is not going out of business,” Crystal said. “Whatever option our parent company pursues, it will allow Crystal to operate its business. Additionally, we have always been committed to honoring our contractual obligations with guests and travel partners, including the processing of refunds.

“While we have extended our suspension of global voyages until the end of the year, we are working with government and health authorities in our key markets to resume sailing when it is safe to do so and we look forward to welcoming our guests back on board at that time.”

Crystal Endeavor is not sailing yet

Expedition ship Crystal Endeavor should have been sailing by now. * Rendering: Crystal

$3.4 billion debt

Genting Hong Kong’s cash crunch is due to COVID-19’s impact on its operations, which include Asia’s Star Cruises and Dream Cruises and Germany’s MV Werften shipyards. The company owed a total of $3.4 billion as of July 31.

It expects to report a U.S.$600 million net loss in the first half of 2020 and has delayed the deliveries of giant ship Global Dream and small expedition ship Crystal Endeavor by “about a year.”

Crystal is a highly regarded brand dripping in “world’s best” accolades that expanded from Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity to introduce a yacht, Crystal Esprit, and four identical new European river vessels, Crystal Bach, Crystal Debussy, Crystal Mahler and Crystal Ravel. Crystal Endeavor had been scheduled to enter service in August this year.

Yacht Crystal Esprit is not going out of business

Yacht Crystal Esprit is among Crystal’s small-ship offerings. * Photo: Crystal

Avalon’s river-cruise ‘bubble’

The “good story” for river cruising is that it can operate in a safe “bubble,” according to Scott Nisbet, president & CEO of Globus Family of Brands, which includes Avalon Waterways.

Avalon’s small vessels carry fewer travelers, who’ll stay with the same group and adhere to health checks throughout their trip while seeing Europe from one room (their cabin, with no recirculated air), Nisbet said. They’ll dine in controlled venues with health protocols, skip the lines at sights and will always be just feet from shore should an emergency develop.

Many European countries, he noted, categorize river cruising as a hotel rather than a cruise, making resumption easier.

Travel is back on Europe’s rivers, in a controlled way and only for designated nationalities — not Americans, so far.

Nisbet said Globus is closely watching the continent’s famed Christmas markets, popular destinations for Avalon in November and December.

He’s confident markets will operate, but who knows if Americans will be allowed?

Avalon river cruise bubble

On a river cruise bubble, passengers travel Europe while staying in one room, their cabin. Here, a panorama suite on Avalon Envision. * Photo: Avalon Waterways

Victory’s ‘Come Home to America in 2021’

Victory Cruise Lines‘ new flexible booking policy includes savings of up to $1,400 on 2021 sailings when travelers book and pay in full by Sept. 30, 2020.

The company’s “Come Home to America in 2021” offer gives travelers the option to change or cancel their voyage up to 121 days before departure and receive a full refund. The policy is valid for future and existing 2021 cruise reservations but not for rebookings from 2020 to 2021.

Victory, which isn’t sailing for the balance of 2020, recently detailed health protocols for its 2021 restart. Next year sees new ship Ocean Victory introducing “Discover Beyond” Alaska expedition cruises between Sitka and Vancouver, British Columbia. Other new Victory routes are in the Great Lakes, Canadian Maritimes, New England and the Southeastern United States, including 12-day round-trips from Amelia Island’s Fernandina Beach.

In the coming weeks, Victory will be announcing new winter 2021 itineraries for Victory I and Victory II.

new Ocean Victory

The new Ocean Victory is scheduled to operate Alaska expedition cruises for Victory Cruise Lines in 2021. * Rendering: Victory Cruise Lines

Scenic flights & dives

Luxury expedition ship Scenic Eclipse embarked on its maiden voyage a year ago. During its first eight months (before halting four months ago due to the pandemic), the 228-passenger vessel had journeyed to more than 20 countries across four continents.

scenic eclipse

Scenic Eclipse during its first Antarctica season. * Photo: Scenic

Travelers took to the skies on 290 helicopter flights from the ship’s helipad and experienced more than 200 dives in its submarine, Scenic Neptune, which is able to reach depths of more than 1,000 feet.

Scenic Eclipse submarine Scenic Neptune

The cool interior of Scenic Eclipse submarine Scenic Neptune. * Photo: Scenic

They also participated in more than 500 discovery explorations including kayaking and Zodiac trips around Antarctica’s icebergs. More than 270 daring (or crazy?) travelers took the polar plunge, diving into the freezing waters of the Arctic and Antarctica to earn their polar badges.

Scenic USA is currently offering U.S. customers free and reduced premium airfare for select Antarctica, trans-Atlantic and Arctic sailings in 2021 and 2022 aboard Scenic Eclipse. Free and reduced economy airfare applies to Arctic, Central America and Mediterranean voyages. If travelers pay in full within 14 days of booking, they’ll get an additional $500 in savings.

Scenic’s “Book With Confidence” program gives flexibility and includes a deposit protection plan valued at $250.

RELATED: The New Scenic Eclipse.  By Peter Knego.

scenic neptune

Scenic Neptune at the Trident Wall, Port Antonio. * Photo: f-Stop Movies

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