4 JULY 2022


© 2022 Business Travel News Ltd.

Article from BTNews 4 JULY 2022


This month’s Cruise News features two renowned cruise lines making a comeback.

Crystal Cruises went into liquidation in February of this year, whilst Swan Hellenic floundered in 2017.  Such were the strength of the brands both are able to make well financed returns.

Later this month Swan Hellenic will undertake the maiden voyage with the brand new Helsinki Shipyard constructed Vega (10,000 tons and 150 passengers), a purpose-built 5-star polar explorer ship offering Scandi style décor. More at a later date.

Crystal Cruises was founded in 1988 by the Japanese shipping company NYK introducing ‘Harmony’ which set new standards with what the company called “6-star quality”.  They sold out to the gaming conglomerate Genting Hong Kong which collapsed earlier this year due to the pandemic.  An auction in the Bahamas realised $25m for Crystal Symphony (1995) and $128m for Crystal Serenity (2003) more than meeting marketing expectations.

A&K Travel Group Ltd (better known to most as Abercrombie & Kent established in 1962) has now confirmed the acquisition of the ships and brand.
Both are around 60,000 tons with about 1,000 passengers and offered an exceptional standard of service.  

They are each expected to resume operations in 2023 after undergoing extensive refurbishment.

The ships will operate under the Crystal Cruises brand, which was also acquired by A&K Travel Group Ltd.

A&K is owned by Geoffrey Kent and Heritage Group, and is chaired by Manfredi Lefebvre the charismatic former owner of Silversea Cruises who sold out to the Royal Caribbean Group in 2018.  He is Chairman of the European Cruise Council.

“I am thrilled to start this new chapter and to be back in an industry that has always had a special place in my heart”, said Lefebvre one of the “greats” of the cruise business whose late father Antonio Lefebvre d'Ovidio (who died in 2011 aged 98) created Silversea 1994.

Geoffrey Kent (age 80) is another travel industry veteran having established Abercrombie & Kent, now a renowned international luxury travel company, in the early 1960s.  Kent is a founding member of the World Travel and Tourism Council and served as a Chairman of the Council for six years. As with Lefebvre he is a resident of Monaco.

Crystal Cruises and Abercrombie & Kent will be under the responsibility of Cristina Levis, CEO of A&K Travel Group Ltd.  

No more Crystal news at the present time but 2023 will come around quickly enough as the ships are turned around.  On the marketing front A&K has extensive experience in the quality travel market.  New ships for 2024/25?  We can only wait and see.


In mid-June cruise industry leaders convened in Genoa for the industry's first European Summit devoted to the decarbonisation of cruising under the patronage of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

CLIA ocean-going member cruise lines are projected to debut 16 new cruise ships in 2022, including five LNG-powered vessels and nine expedition craft.  Although most cruise lines a now operating their full fleets, many ships sail less than full for controlled reasons including the staff shortages that have plagued the whole travel industry as business picked up.  To put it in perspective in 2020 34 ships were scrapped including CMV’s Columbus sadly scrapped just after a major refit.

Opening the conference, Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises and Global Chair, CLIA said: “The cruise industry shares a vision with European governments of a sustainable blue economy. The industry is stepping up and can deliver on our promises. Clear support from decision makers is needed to ensure that the right infrastructure is developed and is accessible, and that the right incentives can guarantee the development and delivery of sustainable maritime solutions.”

Marie-Caroline Laurent, CLIA’s Director General in Europe, added: “The cruise industry has already taken firm and robust measures towards achieving its decarbonisation goals and, collectively, is committed to deliver. The cruise industry is powering European maritime industry innovation and is critical to help the EU to deliver the necessary step change towards decarbonisation. It is essential that we now need a clear legislative framework to encourage the investment and innovation that will be required for industry to achieve the 2030 EU Fit for 55 objectives and ultimately our 2050 ambitions”.

Vago said during the conference that port infrastructure had been identified by CLIA as another very important area where public finance investment is essential. Cruise lines have committed to use shoreside electricity (SSE), where offered by ports, and 66% of the global fleet will be equipped to connect to SSE by 2027. Only a handful of cruise berths provide SSE in European ports, while the European Union goal is for all main ports in the continent to be equipped by 2030.

On a less serious note.

Royal Caribbean (RCCL) must be finding it difficult finding uplifting names for it new ships and have come up with “Utopia of The Seas” the sixth in its Oasis class of with 5,400 lower beds capacity and up to 6,000 guests during the school holidays.  She is due into service in 2024.

What makes Utopia a milestone is her power unit, running on liquid natural gas (LNG), the first in her class.  She has a top speed of 22.5 knots.  With three 20,000-kilowatt (26,800hp) stern mounted Azipods and four 5,500-kilowatt (7,380hp) transverse bow thrusters her manoeuvrability is amazing getting into the tightest of berths sideways.

See AND FINALLY: What's in a name? in this week's BTN.

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