Crystal reassures partners after parent company halts debt payments

The Crystal Serenity in the Northwest Passage.
The Crystal Serenity in the Northwest Passage.

Crystal Cruises today sought to reassure clients and travel advisors that it was solvent after its parent company this week said that it had defaulted on its debt payments.

Genting Hong Kong, parent company to Crystal and two of Asia's largest cruise lines, suspended payments to creditors on almost $3.4 billion, citing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Crystal said that although Genting "is engaged in a financial restructuring and fundraising exercise to address liquidity issues ... It is important to understand that the company is not going out of business. Whatever option our parent company pursues, it will allow Crystal to operate its business."

The luxury line also said that it is "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."

Some travel advisors, meanwhile, said that they were doubling down on efforts to get back their clients' deposits, some that prior to this week had already been delayed longer than the 90 days promised by Crystal.

When Susan Reder, managing partner of Frosch Classic Cruise and Travel in Woodland Hills, Calif., saw the news, she said, she went into panic mode. The Crystal top-producer's clients have thousands of dollars booked on the line in 2021, including a large group in top suites, and even before the latest blow, Crystal had been very slow to make promised refunds for canceled voyages.

By this morning, however, Reder was more assured, having heard from Crystal that it would honor those refunds, and by the news that Genting CEO Lim Kok Thay had pledged nearly his entire stake in Genting as collateral for loans.

"We are all feeling a little better," she said. "If this guy is putting up a billion dollars of his own money personally, getting financing will be that much easier."

Meanwhile, the Covid crisis has impacted Crystal elsewhere. The line said that the pandemic had temporarily shuttered the Wertfen yard in Germany where the Crystal Endeavor is under construction, pushing the ship's already-delayed delivery into 2021. Crystal canceled Endeavor voyages through May 1 and said it did not have a new delivery date.


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