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Are Crystal's River Cruise Ships Up For Sale?


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Posted (edited)

Crystals response 

 

Statement from Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Walter Littlejohn, Crystal River Cruises


July 1, 2021

 

With regards to the June 29 article in Travel Weekly that alleges the Crystal River Cruises ships are for sale, we emphatically deny the accuracy of an email sent to our competitors by a Florida ship broker, with whom we have no contractual relationship and to whom our legal team has issued an immediate cease and desist letter.  We are deeply disappointed Travel Weekly failed to employ the highest ethical standards in researching and writing this story in its rush to print, and since then has published another article that also contains significant falsehoods about Crystal. 

 

Crystal River Cruises launched to great acclaim in 2016 and in each successive year has posted record occupancy, and widely expanding yields, culminating with the five-ship fleet sailing at over 97 percent occupancy in 2019.  Our forward year, globally-sourced bookings are up well in excess of 50 percent, selling at our absolute highest pricing ever, with a 28 percent capacity increase as for 2022 we have opened Crystal Mozart to all source markets rather than just Asia as planned pre-pandemic.

 

This week, Crystal’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong (GHK), successfully completed a financial restructuring agreement with its global creditors and following on from that, the company, like all other responsible enterprises, will continue to engage in fundraising exercises to address liquidity needs as it navigates through the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 

We would like to assure our valued guests, travel advisors and team members that Crystal is steadfastly focused on pivoting away from the travails of the pandemic as we prepare to gradually resume service this year on August 29 with Crystal Ravel on the Danube and August 30 with Crystal Debussy on the Rhine, both of which are very heavily booked.  This resumption follows the restart of our ocean business with the upcoming July 3 sailing of Crystal Serenity from Nassau, Bahamas and the July 17 maiden voyage of the brand-new expedition ship Crystal Endeavor, just christened in Germany last weekend, from Reykjavik, Iceland.  Soon the company will announce a revised restart of the Crystal Symphony with voyages beginning late Summer. 

 

All of us are excited about focusing on what matters, doing business with the highest integrity and delivering unrivaled and exceptional vacations to delighted luxury travelers from across the globe in partnership with guests and travel advisors whose loyalty has remained steadfast with Crystal through these unprecedented times.

Edited by Stickman1990
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As a senior corp comm professional for a Fortune 10 company, what I see in that letter:

 

*  He denies "the accuracy of an email sent to our competitors..."

*  Nowhere in the letter does he deny the company is for sale.

*  He takes issue with Travel Weekly's reporting, but Travel Weekly gave the company an opportunity to deny the premise of the article. "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."

 

None of this is to suggest that the company is indeed for sale. But read corporate statements very carefully.

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12 minutes ago, Needzavacation said:

As a senior corp comm professional for a Fortune 10 company, what I see in that letter:

 

*  He denies "the accuracy of an email sent to our competitors..."

*  Nowhere in the letter does he deny the company is for sale.

*  He takes issue with Travel Weekly's reporting, but Travel Weekly gave the company an opportunity to deny the premise of the article. "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."

 

None of this is to suggest that the company is indeed for sale. But read corporate statements very carefully.

I don't believe them and just hope more guinea pigs do not help by giving them deposits or payments in full.  Buyer Beware

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I guess it is possible that Crystal is not planning to sell these ships, but their communication strategy is just making it even harder for us to know exactly what is going on.  I have no idea why Crystal PR people are so poor at making Crystal look good and honest.

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So there is a lesson to be learned here.  Do not believe everything you read because often it is wrong.  The publication should have checked with Crystal before going to print and Crystal has responded.  The response was relatively quick but likely couldn't be done the next day because of legal reasons and a review of this.

 

As to Crystal PR have no idea what the comment means.  You do know when Crystal puts out glowing statements some on the boards criticize them for being too glowing.  

 

Most industries took some type of beating from COVID-19 but certainly the cruise lines including river cruises are one of the most challenged industries and yes it meant big time financial hits.  None of them are designed to shut down for 16 or more months and many had to do creative financing to stay afloat and I suspect most of them were engaged at one time or the other in possible sales or at least listened to what others wanted to offer.  You would be crazy not to IMHO.

 

Keith

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I think many of us never believed much of what we read about Crystal (or any other company that relies on a certain amount of "speculative investment" on the part of the consumer), whether the information came from Crystal or elsewhere.  However, I am convinced that the information coming directly from Crystal always has been less than clear and straightforward for many years, and this has gotten even worse in the past year.  Some call it good business practice, but to some of us, the way Crystal communicates with their customers has not been very effective.  This was especially true whey Crystal decided to announce the cancellations of all cruises on Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler for the abbreviated 2021 season.  Instead of just saying that, Crystal kept sending poorly constructed memos about cancellations of "select sailing" of Bach and Mahler every 4-5 days, and removing the previous announcements every time, making it sound like these cancellations are affecting just "select sailings" on these boats, when this was actually a piece-by-piece announcement of something more.  They are small things but when Crystal takes this kind of approach to everything they put out, it sends a rather negative message to some of us.  Furthermore, the response yesterday regarding this true or untrue story about the possible sale of the river boats was clearly not definitive enough, and the content of the memo (intentionally??) left a few questions unanswered.  For example, Crystal should have said if the boats are on sale or not, or at least say whether Crystal has any intentions, at this time, to sell these boats.  It would have been even better if Crystal said something more substantial about why both Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler is not going to be deployed this year. Whether this was either intentional or just poor communication, the result is the same:  It keeps some of us wondering what Crystal is really up to.

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26 minutes ago, Psoque said:

I think many of us never believed much of what we read about Crystal (or any other company that relies on a certain amount of "speculative investment" on the part of the consumer), whether the information came from Crystal or elsewhere.  However, I am convinced that the information coming directly from Crystal always has been less than clear and straightforward for many years, and this has gotten even worse in the past year.  Some call it good business practice, but to some of us, the way Crystal communicates with their customers has not been very effective.  This was especially true whey Crystal decided to announce the cancellations of all cruises on Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler for the abbreviated 2021 season.  

Having dealt with another line during this Pandemic - I have to say I was extremely frustrated with Princess also. I am not sure if any line excelled this past year.

 

I still have no clue what is accurate. I do wish Crystal (and their river cruises) survive because it is an excellent product. Would hate to see it go.

 

Time will tell. I did cancel my Crystal river cruise and will spend this weekend re-evaluating. 

 

I personally was pleased with the comments they put out until someone pointed out things. I wish Crystal would have come out right away with the statement. I think we can all agree that Crystal and other lines need to be more clear with their communication.

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Crystal is doing a bad job in controlling the narrative and they really need a single voice.  Now it some mix of Genting HK, Littlejohn - Anderson is MIA.  If the USA is the main market for Crystal, then they need a senior US spokesperson saying all this.  I am beginning to see why Wolber left

 

I am sure that Crystal did look at selling the river boats at one time - they probably looked at every possibility to raise cash.  Doesnt mean that it isn't on the table even now.  

 

About the delay in the response.  I have worked for foreign companies and they want to have everything run by them first.  Even in this electronic age, there is still a time difference (and a cultural difference) that bakes in dithering that would frustrate most people

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I worked for a subsidiary of a Swiss insurance company for 6 months. Even a desktop computer purchase had to be approved by head office in Switzerland. It was mind-boggling!

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Posted (edited)

How about they’re not getting out of the business but are looking to find a buyer for the ships and then to lease them back. Cash flow challenge solved.

Edited by Canal archive
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Seems to me that it isn’t a negative to be selling ships if the intention is to lease them back after garnering a cash cushion from the transactions. It seems to be a smart strategy but what other business would even be in the position to buy these assets after the past dismal year plus?  The murky communication is problematic, though.

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2 minutes ago, Gourmet Gal said:

Seems to me that it isn’t a negative to be selling ships if the intention is to lease them back after garnering a cash cushion from the transactions. It seems to be a smart strategy but what other business would even be in the position to buy these assets after the past dismal year plus?  The murky communication is problematic, though.

If that is their intention - sell and then lease back, I am cool with that. 

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  • 1 month later...

I recently received a survey from Azamara which asked very detailed questions about my travel style/preferences and the factors that influence my travel decisions.  There were questions about my interest in various travel options with an entire section about river cruising.  What variables are important to me in selecting a river cruise?  What matters most to me once on board the vessel?  Would I consider taking a river cruise from a long list of ocean-going cruise lines, including Crystal? 

That got me thinking.  I wonder if the PE firm that owns Azamara are considering entering the river cruise market?  Could they possibly be looking at purchasing all or some of the Crystal fleet of river boats?  Just idle thoughts while we're not on the water!
 

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, MightyQuinn said:

I recently received a survey from Azamara which asked very detailed questions about my travel style/preferences and the factors that influence my travel decisions.  There were questions about my interest in various travel options with an entire section about river cruising.  What variables are important to me in selecting a river cruise?  What matters most to me once on board the vessel?  Would I consider taking a river cruise from a long list of ocean-going cruise lines, including Crystal? 

That got me thinking.  I wonder if the PE firm that owns Azamara are considering entering the river cruise market?  Could they possibly be looking at purchasing all or some of the Crystal fleet of river boats?  Just idle thoughts while we're not on the water!
 

I hope this is not the case from the stand point that Azamara has not been single friendly, vs Crystal has been. I still hope the rumor is not true about selling the ships.

Edited by Coral
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2 hours ago, Canal archive said:

MightyQuinn they may be carrying out the survey for a third party! Den den den.

 

Den, den, den, for sure! I have little doubt that Sycamore Partners is behind the front-facing Azamara survey, which was the most comprehensive survey I've ever taken.  It took me upwards of 25-30 min to complete, no exaggeration.  Most questions made sense to be asked on behalf of Azamara but the section on river cruising really jumped out.  Why would the survey ask so many probing questions on river cruising?  Why would they provide a list of traditional cruise lines and then ask if I would take a river cruise operated by each of them?  It seems that Sycamore Partners is keen to gather intel on river cruising, whether for the potential benefit of Azamara or some other member of their investment portfolio.  They have already demonstrated a commitment to the cruise industry and they have the funds to purchase their way into the river cruise market. Is a deal with Crystal in the works?  Den, den, den!  LOL

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