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Booking Bahamas in July, great news but... Crystal’s Financial State??


BoundForSea
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Posted (edited)

Hi gang. Ironically DW and I had Crystal in our list of new lines to try before the pandemic hit. I’ve rebooked probably a dozen cruises over the last 12 months and we want to be one of the first to sail again, and since the announcement from Crystal on Bahamas itineraries, we are beyond thrilled and excited however.....

 

I’ve read the financial sutuation news through second half of calendar year 2020 on Genting, Meyer Werft, Crystal, etc and it is very very scary. As of December it was reported that most debt has gone unpaid to creditors and default back then was iminent. Ive not seen any news of tneir financials since December 2020, so not sure whats happened since. 

 

In the early 2000s, as an airline pilot I had my 50 passenger airliner repossed by the bank forcibly from my hands at the gate due to an airline’s similar financial state, so I’m a bit presisposed to such fear. 

 

We are ready to book a penthouse and maybe a b2b, and just love the product they offere(d). I read many travel insurance providers wont insure the financial aspect of cruises for oassengers given their well known debt non payment status as its a “pre existing condition” financially. Other than our friends at Amex processing a chargeback, should we be nervous about throwing our money at this company? 

 

I know many are still out of large sums of non refunded fares as I write this, with little to no communication from the company to the agents and their clients on refund status (as Ive read)

 

I think this is a thread that will prosper and be a good place to research prior to and after bookings open in 6 days. 

 

Thoughts from the past Crystal guests and those in the know of the company and their status and disposition? 

 

Either way, good for them to get the ball rolling, many will follow Im sure (esp those with private islands in Bahamas)

Edited by BoundForSea
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1 hour ago, BoundForSea said:

I read many travel insurance providers wont insure the financial aspect of cruises for passengers given their well known debt non payment status

Some insurance companies do.  Of the three that I am aware of their current status on this, one does not insure for Crystal financial default and two do insure for it.  So I would ask and confirm this before buying insurance, and buy from a company that insures what you want to protect against.

 

I agree that the Bahamas itineraries are tempting, and if I did not live so far away and have other plans for the summer I would be considering it.  I would point out that your deposit is not due until April 5, and final payment is not due until 60 days before sailing.  Under the current Crystal Confidence policy, admin fees are waived until 60 days when the penalties start, so other than waiting in line for a refund you would not be at risk until final payment.  So if you are worried about whether or not these segments will happen, you could book toward the end of the series and you would know if the early ones sail before your final payment is due.

 

There is some hope for a turnaround in the refund situation with this announcement yesterday on the Crystal website:  

www.crystalcruises.com/advisory-alerts/issuance-of-cruise-refunds .

 

This comes after months of silence from Crystal on the subject, which hopefully means that they actually have something real to say and that the announcement is sincere.  If they do manage to catch up on 37% of the still outstanding refunds by the end of March, we should see an increase in refunds being posted on the Refund Roll Call thread.  So we should have some positive feedback on this before the deposit date of April 5.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, SusieQft said:

Some insurance companies do.  Of the three that I am aware of their current status on this, one does not insure for Crystal financial default and two do insure for it.  So I would ask and confirm this before buying insurance, and buy from a company that insures what you want to protect against.

 

I agree that the Bahamas itineraries are tempting, and if I did not live so far away and have other plans for the summer I would be considering it.  I would point out that your deposit is not due until April 5, and final payment is not due until 60 days before sailing.  Under the current Crystal Confidence policy, admin fees are waived until 60 days when the penalties start, so other than waiting in line for a refund you would not be at risk until final payment.  So if you are worried about whether or not these segments will happen, you could book toward the end of the series and you would know if the early ones sail before your final payment is due.

 

There is some hope for a turnaround in the refund situation with this announcement yesterday on the Crystal website:  

www.crystalcruises.com/advisory-alerts/issuance-of-cruise-refunds .

 

This comes after months of silence from Crystal on the subject, which hopefully means that they actually have something real to say and that the announcement is sincere.  If they do manage to catch up on 37% of the still outstanding refunds by the end of March, we should see an increase in refunds being posted on the Refund Roll Call thread.  So we should have some positive feedback on this before the deposit date of April 5.

Thanks for that great response! In all my years on here I’ve not read a more concise, factual, and helpful response to a question, so thank you! That was most helpful. 

 

Edited by BoundForSea
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3 hours ago, SusieQft said:

Some insurance companies do.  Of the three that I am aware of their current status on this, one does not insure for Crystal financial default and two do insure for it.  So I would ask and confirm this before buying insurance, and buy from a company that insures what you want to protect against.

 

I agree that the Bahamas itineraries are tempting, and if I did not live so far away and have other plans for the summer I would be considering it.  I would point out that your deposit is not due until April 5, and final payment is not due until 60 days before sailing.  Under the current Crystal Confidence policy, admin fees are waived until 60 days when the penalties start, so other than waiting in line for a refund you would not be at risk until final payment.  So if you are worried about whether or not these segments will happen, you could book toward the end of the series and you would know if the early ones sail before your final payment is due.

 

There is some hope for a turnaround in the refund situation with this announcement yesterday on the Crystal website:  

www.crystalcruises.com/advisory-alerts/issuance-of-cruise-refunds .

 

This comes after months of silence from Crystal on the subject, which hopefully means that they actually have something real to say and that the announcement is sincere.  If they do manage to catch up on 37% of the still outstanding refunds by the end of March, we should see an increase in refunds being posted on the Refund Roll Call thread.  So we should have some positive feedback on this before the deposit date of April 5.

April 5 is, ironically, the date last year that I canceled my cruise and I’m still awaiting my refund, so I was very hopeful to see this!  Thank you for posting!

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Be aware that for those who use a Sapphire Reserve Card for "free" insurance, Chase will not reimburse you for any loss that stems from a charge more than 538 days old.  I spoke with the dispute department yesterday.  MY TA was unaware of that limitation. That rule applies even if the cruise line goes bankrupt.  Given that many of us book cruises way in advance, it is a new wrinkle to consider.  I love not paying for insurance but there is a downside.  Much of my outstanding charges are much older than that as I keep rolling over money to future cruises.  

 

AMEX might be more generous with respect to reimbursement-- but Amex does not provide free insurance and triple points so I got rid of my Amex.

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1 hour ago, bitob said:

Be aware that for those who use a Sapphire Reserve Card for "free" insurance, Chase will not reimburse you for any loss that stems from a charge more than 538 days old.  I spoke with the dispute department yesterday.  MY TA was unaware of that limitation. That rule applies even if the cruise line goes bankrupt.  Given that many of us book cruises way in advance, it is a new wrinkle to consider.  I love not paying for insurance but there is a downside.  Much of my outstanding charges are much older than that as I keep rolling over money to future cruises.  

 

AMEX might be more generous with respect to reimbursement-- but Amex does not provide free insurance and triple points so I got rid of my Amex.

The insurance from Chase Sapphire Reserve is not as comprehensive as a typical stand alone policy through a third party, and there are limits as to the amount that can be insured, something like $10,000 as I recall.

 

Triple points for cruises (or any travel) are now available with the Amex Green Card.  If one also has the Amex Platinum, there are additional cruise benefits that are also applicable and combinable with the Green benefits.

 

Based on what has been reported in this forum, I have been impressed with the way that Amex has helped facilitate cruise refunds, particularly for older charges unlike Chase. 
 

Going forward my preferred trifecta will be Amex Platinum, Gold, and Green as opposed to Chase Sapphire Reserve, Freedom (or Freedom Flex), and Freedom Unlimited.

 

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2 hours ago, RLMSLL said:

Going forward my preferred trifecta will be Amex Platinum, Gold, and Green as opposed to Chase Sapphire Reserve, Freedom (or Freedom Flex), and Freedom Unlimited.

 

You'll carry three Amex cards?  Curious as to why.

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Bahamas sounds so wonderfull. I dreamed of going to Bahamas all my life. Its like one of those Pirates of the Carribean stories with beautiful beaches, coconuts, just a simple chill

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29 minutes ago, mnocket said:

You'll carry three Amex cards?  Curious as to why.

The value that I get from the 3 Amex cards far exceeds the annual card membership fees.  This is how I use them:

 

Amex Schwab Platinum

  • $200 Schwab Appreciation Bonus - not applicable to regular Platinum card
  • $100 Saks credits
  • $200 Uber / Uber Eats credits
  • $200 airline fee credit - difficult for some to redeem these days
  • $180 PayPal credit (special promotion through 6/30/21)
  • Amex offers - savings of several $100/yr
  • Cruise Privileges Program - onboard shipboard credit for EACH SEGMENT as long as fare is charged to an AMEX card (fare does not have to be charged Platinum. Green card would be a good alternative.) - amount of credit varies with cruise line
  • International Airline Program - significantly discounted first and business class international flights - has saved me thousands of dollars
  • 5X Membership Rewards for flights booked directly with airline or through AMEX Travel
  • Fine Hotels & Resorts / Hotel Collection - special amenities with booking
  • Amex Lounge Collection
  • Hilton Gold / Marriott Bonvoy Elite membership

Amex Gold

  • $120 Uber / Uber Eats credits
  • $120 Dining Credit - Grubhub included
  • $100 airline fee credit - difficult for some to redeem these days
  • Amex Offers -savings of about $100/yr
  • 4X Membership Rewards on restaurants worldwide
  • 4X Membership Rewards on US supermarkets

Amex Green

  • 3X Membership Rewards on travel - including cruises, land tours, excursions, hotels - this card is a heavy hitter if one does a lot of travel

All three cards are very useful for someone doing a fair amount of leisure travel.

 

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You left out the

- wireless phone benefit $30 x 6 month = 180

- Global entry $100

- Priority Pass membership (for me this is priceless especially well flying coach on a short haul flight)

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11 minutes ago, PaulMCO said:

You left out the

- wireless phone benefit $30 x 6 month = 180

- Global entry $100

- Priority Pass membership (for me this is priceless especially well flying coach on a short haul flight)

The wireless phone credits are available only on the business version of Amex Cards.

 

I only listed the benefits that I use on Amex.  There certainly are other benefits.

 

I also have the Chase trifecta, and the Priority Pass benefits on the Chase Sapphire Reserve are better on that card than the Priority Pass benefits available through Amex.  The CSR PP benefits include select airport restaurants and a more liberal guest policy.

 

I renewed my Global entry with my CSR, but it is also available with Amex Platinum.  The Amex Green card has a $100 Clear credit, but I have not applied for it.

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve has better rental car insurance than Amex.

 

it is good to have several different transferable points programs when searching for premium award travel.  We have successfully traveled throughout the world using award travel purchased with both Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. For some destinations premium award travel on preferred flights is never available.  In that case the Amex International Flights program is very beneficial.

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To the OP, I would definitely buy a good third party insurance after reviewing the policy carefully.  Some policies cover financial default; others bankruptcy. There's a difference.  And some policies don't cover it depending on when you buy the coverage. Be sure to buy the coverage at the time of (or soon after) you make payment. This should also be described in the policy.  I would not rely on any credit card "insurance" program, although some are good for many things.

 

And, to make things more complicated, policies vary by the state you reside in 🙂

 

Good travel agents who can help navigate this.  Just be sure to get one who understands your needs.

 

I, too, am excited at the prospect of taking a Crystal cruise, but I, too, wouldn't put money down without coverage.

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I hoped to be the first person to start a Roll Call for the July 3 cruise. As it happens it's about the only week I can get away - and I've been longing for a cruise that won't be cancelled. With the CDC dragging it's feet and our the fact that for other reasons we have to cruise close to home, I was doubtful for tis summer.  So seeing the July 3 cruise I was very excited.

 

Now y'all have me depressed about Crystal's ability to pull it off.  I'm more concerned about being disappointed than losing a deposit. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, SuitCaseBears said:

I hoped to be the first person to start a Roll Call for the July 3 cruise. As it happens it's about the only week I can get away - and I've been longing for a cruise that won't be cancelled. With the CDC dragging it's feet and our the fact that for other reasons we have to cruise close to home, I was doubtful for tis summer.  So seeing the July 3 cruise I was very excited.

 

Now y'all have me depressed about Crystal's ability to pull it off.  I'm more concerned about being disappointed than losing a deposit. 

Agreed 1000%
 

Purchase a good Travel Ins plan with cancel for any reason and Bankrupcy/default/insolvency insurance that doesnt have Crystal or Genting HK listed on a financial black list. 

 

I think they will pull it off. I would however be a little sceptical on booking the first one on July 3/4 as there may be some ligistical challenges and fails. I cant imagine 500-900 people queing at Nassau Port outside those gates with no real terminal getting checked in and baggage and all. Just port calls there getting on and off are a challenge with the lack of facilities and some of the harassing hecklers and ‘vendors’ that jump all iver everyone relentlessly. 

 

I’m still all in 1000%

Edited by BoundForSea
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On 3/13/2021 at 1:17 AM, Roger88 said:

Bahamas sounds so wonderfull. I dreamed of going to Bahamas all my life. Its like one of those Pirates of the Carribean stories with beautiful beaches, coconuts, just a simple chill

Ahh, actually no, it isn’t.  Nice enough on the neighbor islands but IMHO not as nice beaches as many other locations.

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I am seriously considering two weeks on Serenity this summer.  But the financial concerns mentioned elsewhere are real given recent Crystal history.  I assume that some potential guests may be so risk averse that they do not want to entrust funds to Crystal, with the possibility of waiting long for refunds or even bankruptcy.  Wouldn't a simple solution be for Crystal to have fares deposited in an escrow account (where new funds would not be used to pay old debts)?  It would be very reassuring to potential guests and might increase willingness of people to commit. 

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3 hours ago, Observer said:

I am seriously considering two weeks on Serenity this summer.  But the financial concerns mentioned elsewhere are real given recent Crystal history.  I assume that some potential guests may be so risk averse that they do not want to entrust funds to Crystal, with the possibility of waiting long for refunds or even bankruptcy.  Wouldn't a simple solution be for Crystal to have fares deposited in an escrow account (where new funds would not be used to pay old debts)?  It would be very reassuring to potential guests and might increase willingness of people to commit. 


Thats sort of the way the system works now, but the problem is you can’t escrow 100% of the money because a line needs to use a good chunk of that money (no matter how well capitalized they are) well ahead of sailing.  Cruise lines can front a lot of large expenses (staff overhead, ship leases, port contracts, fuel hedges, etc.), but at some point fare revenue has to come into play prior to sailing because almost all of the expense is incurred weeks out.  As cruise lines found out, getting the deposits back (if entitled at all) from the entities they paid them to can also be slow and problematic.  
 

Even the escrows aren’t fun — in the refunds thread people only recently reported getting escrows back that were funded through the Federal Maritime Commission requirements.

 

For the most part the escrows worked, the problem is that “not 100%” becomes a real problem when the industry shuts down 100%, and the rules around those escrows start to make a difference — and the volume of hundreds of millions of dollars means that even the margins are still millions of dollars.

 

I think the one that really comes into play here is the merchant’s acquiring bank for credit card processing.  I would assume that’s the escrow that’s been paying most (all?) of the chargebacks since revenue stopped a year ago.

 

Because the Bahamas sailings will happen so soon, most people should fall within the window for nondelivery of services on the dispute like Visa’s Code 13.1 (which we’ve discussed at length in other threads) — but that’s the perfect example of something to confirm with your credit card company, because it not being 100% matters.

 

Vince

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16 hours ago, BoundForSea said:

Agreed 1000%
 

Purchase a good Travel Ins plan with cancel for any reason and Bankrupcy/default/insolvency insurance that doesnt have Crystal or Genting HK listed on a financial black list. 

 

I think they will pull it off. I would however be a little sceptical on booking the first one on July 3/4 as there may be some ligistical challenges and fails. I cant imagine 500-900 people queing at Nassau Port outside those gates with no real terminal getting checked in and baggage and all. Just port calls there getting on and off are a challenge with the lack of facilities and some of the harassing hecklers and ‘vendors’ that jump all iver everyone relentlessly. 

 

I’m still all in 1000%

I will definitely purchase a plan. I had concerns about the first cruise - I never ever go on anything the first day, night, week, cruise etc. BUT... it's a great week for us to be gone AND I just think everyone is going to be so happy - crew, guests, local people - that it will make everything OK.  

 

We went to a concert on Jan 2.  The theater was less than 1/2 full because of all of the spacing, but the energy was so great because everyone was so excited to be AT A CONCERT that it felt like a crowded arena, not a small town ol' Opry house.  I'm counting on that energy and I'm going to bring it by buckets no matter what.  

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2 hours ago, SuitCaseBears said:

I will definitely purchase a plan. I had concerns about the first cruise - I never ever go on anything the first day, night, week, cruise etc. BUT... it's a great week for us to be gone AND I just think everyone is going to be so happy - crew, guests, local people - that it will make everything OK.  

 

We went to a concert on Jan 2.  The theater was less than 1/2 full because of all of the spacing, but the energy was so great because everyone was so excited to be AT A CONCERT that it felt like a crowded arena, not a small town ol' Opry house.  I'm counting on that energy and I'm going to bring it by buckets no matter what.  

You may have kind of convinced me to book the “Innaugural Season” sailing!! 

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15 hours ago, BWIVince said:

Because the Bahamas sailings will happen so soon, most people should fall within the window for nondelivery of services on the dispute like Visa’s Code 13.1 (which we’ve discussed at length in other threads) — but that’s the perfect example of something to confirm with your credit card company, because it not being 100% matters.

I am wondering why a credit card company like Visa would accept charges for Crystal since there are now well known financial problems with the parent company.  I wonder if Visa and other credit card companies have cut off Crystal.  That might explain why Crystal has been refusing to take deposits.  

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4 minutes ago, cruiserchuck said:

I am wondering why a credit card company like Visa would accept charges for Crystal since there are now well known financial problems with the parent company.  I wonder if Visa and other credit card companies have cut off Crystal.  That might explain why Crystal has been refusing to take deposits.  


...Because it’s little/no risk to them, and they make a whole lot of money off of Crystal.  Merchants who deliver services in the future have to put up escrows or bonds to cover the volume of charges normally being floated within that credit card processor’s dispute window, so Crystal is essentially covering the risk of their own charges with their own money.  
 

Crystal has among the highest per diems in cruising and longest durations of stay in the travel industry, so the amount their acquiring banks make off of each charge, on average, makes them a pretty lucrative account.  Other companies to a much higher volume, but with more charges comes more service need so the value is different.

 

If Crystal starts charging cards again en masse in a few weeks, it will be a good sign that things are getting squared away with chargebacks and such.

 

Vince

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Wow, I've been so excited to get my cabin assignment tomorrow for the July 3rd cruise and now reading this am terrified. I thought the sale was too good to be true. I really hope this all works out 😢

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OK all of your killjoys!!  I have my reservation already. They opened up at midnight East coast time and my agent called me at 5 minutes after. 

 

I'm an optimist and y'all can say "we told you so" if it doesn't work out - but meanwhile I'm going to enjoy planning for our first Post-Covid cruise. 🤩

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58 minutes ago, So_Tweetie said:

Wow, I've been so excited to get my cabin assignment tomorrow for the July 3rd cruise and now reading this am terrified. I thought the sale was too good to be true. I really hope this all works out 😢

Tweetie,

Any cruise can be cancelled. Get some insurance and have fun!

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6 hours ago, BoundForSea said:

You may have kind of convinced me to book the “Innaugural Season” sailing!! 

Hey BoundForSea,

 

My husband and I are Bound for the Bahamas. Hope to meet you on the cruise.

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