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Interview with Jack Anderson, Interim President & CEO of Crystal by Insider Travel Report


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Posted (edited)

Here’s a 38 minute interview with Jack Anderson of Crystal published today by Insider Travel Report - it’s the first time I’ve seen him covering off a wide range of topics in an interview 

He talks with James Shillinglaw about what lies ahead for his luxury line, the launch of cruises this July in the Bahamas only, the challenges Crystal has faced during the pandemic, the issue travel advisors and customers had over refunds, Crystal’s parent Genting Hong Kong, plans for future deployments for oceangoing ships, river ships and expedition vessels

 

 

Edited by Stickman1990
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I knew nothing of Anderson, and I was initially dubious as I began the video.  Crystal was being run from Key West?!  🙂

 

But I watched the entire interview and was very impressed by Anderson (not least by his candor in recognizing issues, etc.)

 

IMHO, this was an impressive performance.  Very encouraging!  

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I agree - it was an impressive and genuine interview covering a wide range of sensitive issues - it was very positive 

I was especially pleased to see his frankness and sincerity when apologising to customers and travel advisers for the refund debacle 

I just wish he’d done this interview sooner 

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2 hours ago, Stickman1990 said:

it was an impressive and genuine interview covering a wide range of sensitive issues - it was very positive 

Thank you for posting this - I watched all the way through and was very impressed.  Really a case study in recovering from a major hit to the brand and customer confidence in it.  A+.  I’m booked on the July 3rd sailing, and this made me more certain in that decision.  Have not seen anything so confidence-boosting from other cruise lines.  

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Thanks for posting, Terry. I agree with the others, very frank and positive.

 

I noted that he said they are trying to stick to the 90-day COVID cancellation period for Crystal cancelling cruises. Thus re Symphony which has its first currently scheduled cruises for July, we should know in a couple of weeks. Given his observations re Europe, I am not hopeful. On the other hand, I note the Rivers are still showing availability in June. Could they really be sailing then/there, I wonder.

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@Stickman1990Thanks for posting this excellent interview with Jack Anderson.  I was particularly struck by his forthright acknowledgment of Crystal's poor performance on refunds/commissions along with his sincere commitment to set things right for affected guests and travel partners.  His candor and humility will go a long way to re-instilling my confidence in Crystal, which had taken a hit over the past year. 

I also really enjoyed hearing his take on Crystal river cruises, since we have future bookings on both Moselle and Rhine.  It certainly looks like rivers will be a profitable growth segment for Crystal, given that their 2022 bookings are up 66% over those of 2019.  I don't think our fall 2021 river cruise will be a go, but now I'm less concerned about rolling over the deposit to a future sailing.

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2 hours ago, wishIweretravelling said:

I appreciate his willingness to refuse the interviewer's attempts to gloss over the tough stuff--refunds and the ships' futures. Let's hope his optimism is justified.

 

 

I quite enjoyed the interview but couldn't help think the interviewer was protecting his friend.  None the less I think Jack Anderson overcame that protectionism and was as candid as he absolutely could be.  I am one that has doubted the survival of Crystal, but I think there is hope for them yet.  

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9 hours ago, eroller said:

 

 

I quite enjoyed the interview but couldn't help think the interviewer was protecting his friend.  None the less I think Jack Anderson overcame that protectionism and was as candid as he absolutely could be.  I am one that has doubted the survival of Crystal, but I think there is hope for them yet.  

Obsequious was the word that came to mind. 

 

I, too, have doubted the line's survival, and I'm still not sure about it, but do agree that there's signs of hope.

 

It is a little disturbing that he says he does not know anything more about Genting's situation than what their public statements have been. And I'm not sure what message he was trying to send to TAs by harping on "loyal" travel partners. After all, 40% plus 40% does not equal 100%. So, assuming Crystal comes through with those payments to TAs, will Crystal just short all of them by 20%? Or will some TAs be fully compensated and others (perhaps those who discouraged clients from booking Crystal) get nothing? I guess that's the business of the TAs, but I hope that they too can stay in business.

 

Yep, I'm back in negative mode. I won't be over it until I see Crystal fulfill its promises for the past and make timely refunds on an ongoing basis.

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I was impressed with the interview and that he admitted the failings by Crystal. 

 

The most interesting part of the interview was the candid admission that trying to plan a voyage that called at multiple ports in multiple countries was almost impossible due to all the different restrictions, rules and regulations.

 

I was also interested in the planning of voyages 90 days out.  I'm booked on the 1st August Black Sea Cruise and if the planning cycle is still in force I should hear around the 1 May whether the cruise will take place.

 

I live in Europe and the virus situation is deteriorating.   With the exception (for now) of the UK virtually all European nations are closing down their borders.   It doesn't look good.     

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4 hours ago, wishIweretravelling said:

Obsequious was the word that came to mind. 

 

I, too, have doubted the line's survival, and I'm still not sure about it, but do agree that there's signs of hope.

 

It is a little disturbing that he says he does not know anything more about Genting's situation than what their public statements have been. And I'm not sure what message he was trying to send to TAs by harping on "loyal" travel partners. After all, 40% plus 40% does not equal 100%. So, assuming Crystal comes through with those payments to TAs, will Crystal just short all of them by 20%? Or will some TAs be fully compensated and others (perhaps those who discouraged clients from booking Crystal) get nothing? I guess that's the business of the TAs, but I hope that they too can stay in business.

 

Yep, I'm back in negative mode. I won't be over it until I see Crystal fulfill its promises for the past and make timely refunds on an ongoing basis.

I came away with a similar impression.  Basically they have done a very poor job of issuing refunds and paying commissions because they simply didn't have the money.  His hope is that new funding arrangements will succeed in the next 2 months which will allow them to satisfy a large portion of these obligations.  Let's hope they succeed.

 

That said, nothing he said makes me comfortable that future customer funds will be safe.  The fact that some TAs will no longer book Crystal seems to indicate that they are also not comfortable that future commissions will be honored.  It's kind of a "fool me once" situation.

 

In the meantime, their parent company is shopping the cruise line, in whole or in part, to other companies.  Perhaps they are trying to cut their losses?

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On 3/18/2021 at 5:37 PM, Stickman1990 said:

 

 

I have never cruised with Crystal.  I have always wanted to cruise in the "Luxury" category.  I like many other folks booked a Suite on their upcoming July cruise.  My thoughts were, Crystal knows how important it is to do these cruises RIGHT.  They will pull out all the stops to have positive reviews because they have a vested interest in doing so.  My cruise is the end of July giving them a few test runs.  The crew and team will be excited to be back at work.  The ship will be at 90% capacity.

 

All these things will make these initial cruises a much more positive experience.  For me, it gives me a way to test the Luxury segment without breaking the bank.  

 

The interview was interesting.  You had a CEO that did not skate questions.  The answers to financial matters were transparent.  They were not easy for him to say yet he did not hold back.  The real test is when the cruises start if the services, food quality, entertainment, ect. are going to be as they once were OR will the cruise line look to cut costs.  My business history on these type of situations tell me, they will look to impress and possible go over the top to exceed their clients expectations.  At least that is my hopes, anyway.

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Posted (edited)

I found the interview very good. It made a honest impression to me. I imagine how difficult it is to get the necessary agreements with the countries in order to be able to sail. I am afraid that the WC 2022 will not go ahead.

Ivi

Edited by travelberlin
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3 hours ago, mnocket said:

 

 

In the meantime, their parent company is shopping the cruise line, in whole or in part, to other companies.  Perhaps they are trying to cut their losses?

 

Do we know for certain this is true?

 

Patty

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1 hour ago, Texas Tillie said:

 

Do we know for certain this is true?

 

Patty

 

There isn't a cruise conglomerate out there that hasn't shopped or appraised its brands in the past year.  So far, few of them have gotten enough or had parents desperate enough to take the offer. Who knows, the restarting industry may increase the bids and tip the value proposition.

 

Genting may still find that magic buyer, but in the meantime -- like most of its competitors to their parents -- Crystal remains of more value in Genting's portfolio than it's been worth to sell. 

 

Vince

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Absolutely agree with all that this was an impressive and encouraging video. The reference to Genting's Dream brand already successfully from Singapore and Taiwan is good news and bodes well for the forthcoming Serenity sailings. The cynic in me also now perhaps more fully appreciates why TA's have been dissuading their clients from booking Crystal...they want to be paid their commissions after all !!

Picking up on other points in this thread, I think we need to accept that sailings in Europe are extremely unlikely this year, due to the current covid incidence and dire vaccination roll-out ( except for here in the UK of course!). When other sailings are confirmed, I expect to see a wholesale rejigging of itineraries. This is why our air  travel for our planned October cruise will not be booked until we know our voyage details have been finalised.

 

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20 minutes ago, kool kruiser said:

The cynic in me also now perhaps more fully appreciates why TA's have been dissuading their clients from booking Crystal...they want to be paid their commissions after all !!


That was never in doubt - it was clear to many that it was very much about them trying to pressure Crystal to pay out commissions as much as how guests funds were being handled

 

I wonder if that particular travel consortium retracted their ban on recommending and selling Crystal now that the Bahamas cruises are being marketed and by all accounts selling well? It’s amazing how positions change in the face of commercial reality 😉

 

Perhaps someone who uses one of their members can let us know if they’ve changed their position...

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Stickman1990 said:


That was never in doubt - it was clear to many that it was very much about them trying to pressure Crystal to pay out commissions as much as how guests funds were being handled

 

I wonder if that particular travel consortium retracted their ban on recommending and selling Crystal now that the Bahamas cruises are being marketed and by all accounts selling well? It’s amazing how positions change in the face of commercial reality 😉

 

Perhaps someone who uses one of their members can let us know if they’ve changed their position...

I am not so sure I agree with the original statement. I have had a couple of Crystal inquiries and I have told my clients I cannot in good conscience recommend they book. It has nothing to do with the commission, if Crystal goes under I would not get paid anyway, but more that I can't recommend they tie up their money until the financial picture becomes clearer and Crystal gets caught up and back to normal with the refunds.

Edited by Roland4
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21 hours ago, Texas Tillie said:

 

Do we know for certain this is true?

 

Patty

He said it during the interview.  No reason not to believe him.

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