The fate of the three Crystal Cruises’ vessels, formerly owned by Genting, has been sealed.
A&K Travel Group, owned by Geoffrey Kent and Heritage (an industrial holding company chaired by Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio), has confirmed that it has acquired the ‘Crystal Serenity’ and ‘Crystal Symphony’.
The two ships will resume service in 2023 after undergoing extensive refurbishment and will operate under the ‘Crystal Cruises’ brand that was also acquired by A&K Travel.
“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,” said d’Ovidio, Co-Chairman of A&K Travel Group, Crystal Cruises and Abercrombie & Kent.
“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 on board 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,” added Kent, Co-Chairman of A&K Travel Group and Crystal Cruises, and Founder, Co-Chairman and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent.
Crystal Cruises and Abercrombie & Kent will report to Cristina Levis, CEO of A&K Travel, 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 on board, 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. Ad maiora Crystal Cruises!” She said.
A&K Travel Group has partnered with V.Ships Leisure, based in Monaco to manage the ships.
Law firm Paul Hastings acted for A&K Travel, led by London M&A partner Matthew Poxon, working with London Finance partners David Ereira and Peter Hayes, and New York Finance partner John Storz. Associates Elizabeth Athanassios, Dante Adams, Rohin Gosh Dastidar and Cole Harlan were also part of the legal team.
Callenders Law acted for A&K Travel regarding Bahamian law, while HFW and Stephenson Harwood provided maritime law expertise.
CMC Capital advised A&K Travel Group in the acquisition.
As for the relatively new 200 pax luxury cruise vessel ‘Crystal Endeavor’, she has found a new home with Silversea, a Royal Caribbean brand.
She was delivered by Genting’s shipyard MV Werften last year and was reported to have arrived at Girbraltar’s Eastern Anchorage last week.
There was still no news of MV Werften’s giant newbuildings, the 208,000 gt ‘Global Dream’ or her sistership, when ICSI went to press.
‘Global Dream’ is reported to be around 80% complete and is still lying in the building dock at Wismar. Both ships were designed specifically for the Asian cruise market.
Meanwhile, the second ship is about 30% complete and rumours were circulating that the hull will be sold for scrap.