Updated: Crystal river cruise ships appear to be for sale

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T0705CRYSTALBACH_C_HR [Credit: Crystal Cruises]
The Crystal Bach, one of the Crystal's four Rhine-class vessels, made its debut in 2017. Photo Credit: Crystal Cruises

Five years after launching what it touted as the most luxurious river cruise line in Europe, Crystal Cruises apparently has put its river fleet up for sale.

According to an email that a Florida ship broker sent to other European river lines, the five all-suite river ships built by Crystal between 2016 and 2018 are currently "trading on the Rhine" and can "be developed for sale."

The letter also notes that "the owners are very serious sellers."

Executives with Crystal did not directly respond to a request for confirmation or comment on the purported sale, or how it might impact upcoming seasons. Update: On July 1, Crystal River Cruises said that it "emphatically" denied the accuracy of the email sent by the ship broker and denied it had a contractual relationship with the broker. Crystal said its legal team had issued a cease and desist letter to the broker.

"We are focused on preparing for the late August restart of service for Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel as well as taking record-breaking levels of bookings for 2022 for all five ships, including the reintroduction of Crystal Mozart to our North American source markets with the industry's only dedicated suites for solo travelers," Crystal River Cruises managing director Walter Littlejohn said in an emailed response to questions about the company's plans. "Our fully-vaccinated crew have been hired, the technical teams are readying the vessels and we are all very excited to get true luxury back on Europe's greatest rivers."

The company is scheduled to resume European river sailings on Aug. 29.

The broker's letter listed for sale the Crystal Mozart, Crystal Debussy, Crystal Mahler, Crystal Ravel and Crystal Bach. Crystal launched its river business in 2016 with the Crystal Mozart, which was a top-to-bottom renovation of an older ship. It introduced the four other newbuilds in 2017 and 2018.

The apparent sale notice comes nearly a year after Crystal's parent company, Genting Hong Kong, suspended payments to creditors on almost $3.4 billion, citing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Crystal also has struggled during the pandemic to make good on refunds for canceled cruises.

 This report was updated July 2 to include new information from Crystal regarding the purported sale of the river ships. 

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