Crystal Cruises, one of the worlds most awarded luxury cruise lines, has escaped a near-death experience to rise instead with an exciting new future under A&K Travel Group Ltd.
Geoffrey Kent and Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio of Silversea fame are involved in the new venture.
Crystal’s two ocean ships, Symphony and Serenity, looked poised to be delivered to the knackers yard in India until today’s surprise good-news announcement.
The two ships, the backbone of the Crystal fleet, will resume service in 2023 after undergoing extensive refurbishment and will operate under the award-winning “Crystal Cruises” brand that has also been acquired by A&K Travel Group Ltd.
Terms of this deal were not disclosed, though Travel Weekly maintained Serenity, built-in 2003, was sold for US$103 million, and the Symphony, which debuted in 1995, went for US$25 million.
The Crystal brand was caught in the nightmare that was Dream Cruises, ostensibly Asia’s first luxury line but now in administration.
Dream’s two ships now sail under the Genting casino group’s wing. Crystal’s brand new adventure yacht has been bought by Silversea.
Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Co-Chairman of A&K Travel Group Ltd, Crystal Cruises and Abercrombie & Kent, revealed just how much he was affected by the sale of Silversea to Royal Caribbean when he said:“I am thrilled to start this new chapter and to be back in an industry that has always had, and always will have a special place in my heart.
“Thirty-five years ago, my family acquired control of Sitmar Cruises, building three of the first purpose-built cruise ships, and 30 years ago my family pioneered a new way of cruising. Our goal was to deliver the best experience, pampering guests from all over the world with around-the-clock butler service and extraordinary culinary experiences.
“Selling the cruise business that belonged to my family for a quarter of a century was a difficult decision, as I knew I would miss this industry immensely. Therefore, when the opportunity arose to acquire Crystal Cruises, I did not think about it twice. Having next to me my incredible friend and inspiring leader Geoffrey Kent makes this venture even more enjoyable.”
Mr Kent said: “Even though it seems like yesterday, 30 years have passed since the Lefebvre family and I had our first ship together…Manfredi and I have been best friends and business associates ever since. The idea of combining the unparalleled onboard service that Crystal Cruises is known for, with the extraordinary tailor-made experiences Abercrombie & Kent has been successfully providing for our guests for the past 60 years, fills me with excitement, enthusiasm and pride.”
Crystal Cruises and Abercrombie & Kent will report to Cristina Levis, CEO of A&K Travel Group Ltd., who commented: “My return to luxury cruising after five years brings back so many emotions. It is an immense privilege to serve these two incredible brands that in the past decades have disrupted the travel industry numerous times. Manfredi, Geoffrey and I look forward to welcoming past Crystal and Abercrombie & Kent guests onboard, as well as those seeking rewarding luxury experiences.”
“The acquisition of Crystal has been extremely challenging but the satisfaction of having this jewel in our family is the best payoff for all the hard work and efforts of the A&K team.”
Abercrombie & Kent pioneered luxury adventure travel with the first luxury African safaris in 1962.
Today its award-winning travel services extend around the globe to more than one hundred countries on all seven continents.