TRAVEL WEEKLY by: Johanna Jainchill
The Crystal Bach. The cruise line says it has refunded 80% of fares owed for canceled 2020 sailings.
Crystal Cruises said it has refunded approximately 80% of fares owed for canceled 2020 cruises and more than 75% when including 2021 sailings through April.
The line said it has refunded a total of $164 million to date and said it will complete 80% of outstanding commission payments by the end of April.
“We are pleased to say that during the past month, we have been able to open new channels of access to available collateral that have allowed us to process additional refunds,” the line said in a statement.
Crystal did not say what those channels consist of.
Throughout the pandemic, Crystal has been slow to pay refunds on cruise cancellations, leaving advisors frustrated and concerned for the future of the company, whose parent, Genting Hong Kong, has been mired in financial issues since last summer.
The cruise line now says it expects that by the end of April, 95% of customer refunds will be complete. Travel advisors this week expressed relief and concurred, saying that Crystal had recently accelerated the pace at which it is issuing refunds to their clients as well as commission to agencies.
Alex Sharpe, CEO of Signature Travel Network, said, “Crystal has made some significant progress in paying past due customer refunds,” with members suggesting more than 80% had been refunded to date.
“Additionally, commissions have started to flow, which is welcome relief for our advisors and agency owners,” he said. “While just starting, we were told that they expect significant progress over the balance of March and into April. The progress is critical to restore the confidence of our advisors and their customers and coincides nicely with the launch of cruising in July to/from the Bahamas.”
Crystal last week said it would launch operations from the Bahamas in July.
Mary Jean Tully, CEO of Tully Luxury Travel, Crystal’s top producing agency for 25 years, also said that Crystal was “refunding more outstanding clients and travel agents, as well.”
“I always knew that they’d do the right thing,” she said. “Unfortunately, it’s taken a lot longer than we would have liked. But I’m feeling very optimistic about everything as are our clients.”
Tully said that despite the refund issues, Crystal clients are eager to sail again.
“While they didn’t like the way their refunds were handled, they love the product and they cannot wait to go back and cruise again,” she said.
Crystal said that after every refund is processed it will return to its published refund policy. Crystal extended its no-money down deposit window that it implemented in July 2020 as well as relaxed final payment policies. The no-money-down deposit window has been extended until April 5.
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