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Technically it’s not Crystal that went bankrupt. It was Crystal’s parent company, Malaysia-based Genting Group, a billionaire’s private shipping empire, of which Crystal is a subsidiary based in Hong Kong. But the effect is the same. Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony — the line’s two legendary globe-traversing vessels — were arrested and taken into custody today in the Bahamas after briefly going on the lamb and changing course with passengers onboard to evade international law enforcement.
This is devastating news. I have sailed on the Serenity twice in the Mediterranean and aboard the Symphony in Asia. Both ships are absolutely exquisite — the best in the business.
Crystal’s service is spectacular, their staff-to-guest ratio always the highest in the industry. By design, their ships are never crowded. And while other cruise lines might boast of better, more famous celebrity chefs onboard, no competitor has ever matched Crystal’s day-to-day excellence in the main dining room. Meal after meal, Crystal remains solidly in a league of its own.
This will be an interesting story to watch — and likely a very sad one — as it plays out on the international stage in the months to come. Will it bounce back? Will it be sold? Will it ever be the same? My heart goes out to the incredible crews.
Crystal in the news:
UPDATE March 2022: Although Crystal’s website says operations have been suspended through May 2022, they have now laid off all U.S.-based staff and crew. Looks like it’s over.
UPDATE JUNE 2022: The Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, along with the Crystal Cruises brand name, have been purchased at auction by Abercrombie & Kent and will resume operation under the Crystal Cruises banner in late 2023 following refurbishment of both ships. No word yet as to whether former crews will be rehired, as those longtime crews were essential to most customers’ stedfast loyalty to the brand. A&K did not purchase Crystal’s river ships or the new expedition ship.