When Genting Cruise Lines went into administration and took luxury line Crystal Cruises and the Asian premium brand Dream Cruises with it, it was a natural to look back over the line’s incredible itineraries and amazing journeys.
However, as the nostalgic gaze wears off, very real problems have emerged for customers of the lines. Many put down deposits on Crystal Cruises future sailings – and haven’t seen a cent of it back yet.
And because Crystal was one of the world’s most luxurious lines, it’s not small change.
Trish Walker (name changed) is an avid cruiser who was ready to start ticking items off her bucket list. The penultimate – Crystal Cruises 2023 World Cruise she booked and paid her deposit in 2020. She booked through a travel agent that uses a cruise wholesaler that she prefers not to name publicly.
Ms Walker says: “My story is pretty simple. We booked so early as world cruises sell out quickly and we liked the itinerary – it went to places that were not always available, Easter Island as an example.
“We paid about $28,000 deposit and could not take out travel insurance as the trip was too far into the future.”
Ms Walker didn’t anticipate anything like the line, the most awarded in the world and over 30 years old, going under. But since Genting entered administration, she is very pessimistic about the chances of seeing her money return.
“We did not think that this line would be in any difficulties as it was owned by Genting. Our first thought was one of disbelief – I never thought Genting would go under. We honestly thought they were too big and had been around too long.
“However, we were wrong and it is now defunct – as you know. We have little chance of ever seeing our money again, the wholesaler our agent used are is submitting claims on behalf of clients.”
While Ms Walker is grateful that she’s in the financial position to bear her losses, she still recognises the significant loss and hassle ahead of her to get the money returned.
“The money is a lot to lose, and the lack of information from Crystal about what we needed to do to lodge a claim was pretty minimal. Our travel agent was also not getting any information in the early days.
“Trying to get the money back will be an ongoing hassle.”
Ms Walker has become a member of a private Facebook group for those affected by the bankruptcy, that helps other members get the paperwork to lodge a claim.
“I accessed the paperwork and passed on the details to my agent and asked that they contact the wholesaler and see what they were planning to do.
To their credit, the travel wholesaler have asked if we wish them to act on our behalf and we have agreed to that. So I hope that they will be able to advocate for their clients.”
While Ms Walker has been left nearly $30,000 out of pocket, she says she knows of other stories even worse than hers and fears the intricacies of refunding could mean some people may never get their ‘trip of a lifetime’.
Others she knows have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, having paid for cruises in full already.
“I feel for those future passengers who may have saved for their ‘one and only/lifetime’ holiday and now may never be able to recoup money, or save for that dream trip.
“We are still cruising – July is our next and we are booked out to 2024!”
The cruise wholesaler have been contacted for comment.
For anyone else affected by the cancellation, Ms Walker shared this statement from the Facebook Group.
“Crystal Cruises was taken over by a US Federal court appointed trustee who is in charge of everything. Assets, Employees, Expenses etc. The trustee is currently in the process of soliciting claims against Crystal Cruises. Claims can include passenger refunds, food vendors, fuel and port charges etc.
“The claim filing period is ending on June 11, 2022. Basically a “speak now or forever hold your peace.” If you don’t have trip insurance, this is pretty much all you can do. At that point, a liquidation of assets will occur, monies will be collected, creditors will be paid. Vendors are secured creditors, they’ll be paid first. Passengers are unsecured creditors, they’ll be paid toward the end.”
In the America the Federal Maritime Commission made recommendations for Crystal Cruises passengers to submit a claim with their credit card issuer, or their travel insurance provider. The FMC said if neither of these options are possible that “additional information about the claims process will be forthcoming.”
An Australian regulatory body is yet to comment.
While this is happening, some Crystal Cruises Crew members are still holding out hope of a return for the line.
Former cruise director Rick Spath told Travel Weekly: “I’ve been contacted by a few different lines, but I’m not doing anything at all, nothing until I know what’s happening with Crystal. At least for a couple more weeks. After that, it is what it is.”
There is even a Facebook group for Crystal Cruises Crew for sharing ship memories and helping crew members receive unpaid wages.