Genting Hong Kong's Crystal Cruises closes US office, lays off staff: Source

Crystal Cruises said earlier it was suspending cruises through May. PHOTO: CRYSTAL CRUISES/INSTAGRAM

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Genting Hong Kong's Crystal Cruises is shutting down its United States office and terminating employees, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, days after two of its luxury liners were seized for unpaid bills while its parent looks to restructure with provisional liquidators.

Employees were let go on Wednesday (Feb 9), said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information has not been publicly announced. A video of an announcement made to crew aboard a Crystal ship detailed the news, according to a Twitter posting on Crew Centre, a forum for cruise workers.

V.Ships, a vessel management company, will be the new managing firm, according to the announcement. Bloomberg News has not been able to independently verify the video.

"Unfortunately, this is the end of Crystal Cruises," crew were told on the video. "We don't know what's going to happen in the future. The ships are for sale."

Crystal Cruises, Genting Hong Kong and V.Ships did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The closing of Crystal Cruises' headquarters operation in Miami follows the ship seizures last week in the Bahamas. A fuel supplier sought the action for US$4.6 million (S$6.2 million) in unpaid bills.

Genting Hong Kong, meanwhile, is working with provisional liquidators to restructure the group.

Crystal became the biggest cruise operator worldwide to seek court assistance to safeguard its assets during the pandemic when it asked the Supreme Court of Bermuda on Jan 18 to appoint the provisional liquidators after exhausting "all reasonable efforts" to negotiate with creditors and stakeholders.

The company reported a record loss of US$1.7 billion in May last year as the pandemic ravaged the cruising industry. Its German shipbuilding subsidiary, MV Werften, has become insolvent.

Crystal Cruises said earlier it was suspending cruises through May. Its call centre has been paused until further notice, and it was still processing customer refunds, according to its website.

Dream Cruises Holding, an indirect non-wholly owned unit of Genting Hong Kong, will continue to operate its fleet in Asia.

New Dream Cruises bookings have been suspended until further notice, while Hong Kong sailings of the Genting Dream liner have been cancelled through at least Feb 16 due to the territory's strict social distancing regulations, the company said.

When ST contacted Genting Hong Kong about how this would impact operations here, a spokesman said there are no new updates to a previous statement that said Dream Cruises will continue to operate in Singapore.

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