Commodore halts operations, files Chapter 11

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Commodore Holdings Ltd., parent company of Commodore Cruise Line and Crown Cruise Line, suspended cruise operations and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday.

Commodore canceled cruises on the Enchanted Capri beginning Dec. 31, and on the Enchanted Isle and Crown Dynasty beginning Dec. 30. The Enchanted Capri and Enchanted Isle offered two-, five- and seven-day cruises from New Orleans. The Crown Dynasty sailed from Aruba.

In a statement issued by the company, Commodore said all current passengers on sailings would be returned to their ports of embarkation.

Fred Mayer, chief executive officer of Commodore, said the firm deeply regrets having to suspend operations, but "had no other choice."

A Commodore phone message alerts callers that "due to circumstances beyond our control... all future sailings have been cancelled as of Dec. 27." The message goes on to advise ticket holders and agents to fax questions or concerns to 954-967-2148.

About 30,000 persons hold advance reservations on the company's ships, Mayer said. He said passengers booked on the two Commodore ships based in New Orleans would be able to obtain reimbursements from a $15 million bond placed with the Federal Maritime Commission.

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The bond does not cover passengers booked on the Crown Dynasty's sailings out of Aruba. It does, however, include this summer's Crown Dynasty sailings to Bermuda from U.S. ports are covered.

Mayer said passengers who booked cruises from Aurba through credit cards should advise the card issuers to halt payments.

He said his company intends to file a reorganization plan within 120 days with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Fort Lauderdale.

Commodore said its financial troubles began when changes in California gaming laws slowed bookings for its one-day casino cruises out of San Diego. Commodore shut down that itinerary in June.

The 34-year-old company had 1999 earnings of $4.9 million on sales of $61.5 million. The Nasdaq halted trading of CCLN shares on Dec. 27.

Commodore becomes the second cruise firm to file for Chapter 11 in four months, following the bankruptcy of Premier Cruise Line in September.

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