By Teresa Ooi, Crystal sailor and fan

So it’s hello again to Downton Abbey at sea.

When travel heavy weights, Geoffrey Kent of Abercrombie & Kent and former
Silversea chair, Manfredi Lefebvre d‘Ovidio of Heritage, jointly bought the luxury
cruise liners, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, loyal fans heaved a huge sigh of relief.

Finally, they could dust off their glittering ballgowns, don their jewel-encrusted
jackets and take a twirl on the famed dance floor of Crystal ships.

It’s been a trying four months when the two Crystal ships, owned by parent
company, Genting Hong Kong, was ignominiously placed in the hands of the
receivers and offered for sale. This followed the financial collapse of Genting
Hong Kong.

The line awarded many times as the epitome with luxury looked like facing an ignominious end.

But at an auction held last week, A&K and Heritage reportedly spent US$128 million
($185 million) to acquire the two ships – US$103 million for Serenity and US$25
million for Symphony as well as the Crystal Cruises brand.

Today, the future of the two Crystal ships, looks bright with both Symphony and
Serenity to undergo extensive refurbishments before they resume operations
again under the award-winning Crystal Cruises brand in 2023.

“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 fort our guests for the last 60 years, fills me with
excitement, enthusiasm and pride,” said Mr Kent.

The art of delivering the best cruise experience, pampering guests from all over
the world with round-the-clock butler service and the extraordinary cuisine
experiences is what Mr Lefebvre d’Ovidio is known for. He admits he did not
think twice about buying the Crystal ships.

“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,” added Mr Lefebyre

When I last sailed on Crystal Symphony from Fiji to Cook Islands three years ago,
I was blown away by Raja, the bright-eyed butler from Madras. Resplendent in
his evening attire, he meticulously unpacked my bags while I sipped chilled
Charles Heidsieck champagne on the veranda.

Ahh, the joys of cruising with Crystal – it was all about living the high life.

I am relieved and looking forward to my next cruise aboard Downton Abbey at sea.