HOW WAS THE GENERAL PUBLIC SUPPOSED TO KNOW ABOUT CRYSTAL’S CHALLENGES?

Q – We are booked on Crystal in 2023 on a reservation made directly with the cruise line. (They were offering a special incentive for those who book direct). I read the major travel magazines and have seen nothing about Crystal’s issues. What kind of profession keeps this kind of information from consumers? Crystal’s materials never said they were in difficulty nor did their website or their own travel agents. Now, I don’t know if they will sail in 2023 and I’ve got a deposit of $4300 that, from the sound of it, could end up disappearing. Why was I no tinfo9rmed by anyone at Crystal as to what was going on?

A – We appreciate your concern. Let us address each of your points:

You are correct about the lack of financial reporting in the United States after news broke in in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last August that the company was unable to meet its financial obligations.  The company owned by Malaysian billionaire Lim Kok Thay is diversified in casinos, reports, shipbuilding, and cruises with a heavy emphasis on investments within the hospitality sector that were hit hard by Covid. Not one of the major consumer travel magazines has, to this date, reported on Genting/Crystal’s financial issues. Of course, Crystal is a major travel industry advertiser. 

The travel blog, TPG (The Points Guy) was among the first to report on Crystal’s problems. Cruisetruth was the first cruise-dedicated website to report the potential seriousness of the situation as well as the fact that major insurers were now denying Crystal guests Supplier Default insurance coverage and that the luxury consortium, Virtuoso, was ending joint marketing efforts with Crystal despite a close relationship.

You did not receive a “special offer” because you booked directly with the Crystal “travel agent”. That just simply never happens. Travel Advisers would never work with any cruise line that undercut their pricing. In fact, you should have received a refund of the commission built into your cruise fare. But you booked your cruise with a Crystal commission-based salesperson in a call center. That is why no one ever cared about you or your money. You had no personal advocate – which is the role of a professional advisor.

Crystal may be reborn. The three divisions, Cruise, Riverboat, and Exploration Cruises may all stay together. But we fear that is highly unlikely. It is more likely that Genting’s assets – the Crystal Cruise line, Endeavor expedition ship, and the five riverboats will be sold as separate entities. 

You should cancel your cruise and request a refund of your deposit. Once you have done that, we recommend that you contact your credit card company and ask them to reverse your charge to Crystal. If you are within two months of the time you gave them your deposit it is likely that your credit card company will reverse the charges. 

And let’s be clear about one final thing. You have agreed to pay to use a travel advisor’s services but since you did not use one that money has been pocketed by Crystal. You are going to be traveling through some extremely muddied waters – make sure that you have a lifeboat by your side.