The Supreme Court in the Bahamas completed the sale of the two Crystal cruise ships yesterday after having received and accepted bids for each vessel, which had been detained in the Bahams since February. Separately, there are rumors that a buyer has also been identified for Crystal’s expedition cruise ship, although none of the purchasers have as of yet stepped forward as the courts and lawyers work to complete the wind-down on Crystal Cruises as part of the financial collapse of Crystal’s parent company Genting Hong Kong.
The Crystal Symphony, introduced in 1996, was sold for $25 million exceeding the appraised value of $20 million supplied to the court. The newer Crystal Serenity, which entered service in 2003, sold for $103 million. Bids far exceeded the appraised value of $37.5 million and were above most analyst expectations. The size of the cruise ships, Symphony is 51,000 gross tons, and Serenity is 68,870 gross tons with a capacity aboard each of just over 1,000 passengers, and their age was considered to be limiting factors for buyers.
The cruise industry is speculating on the identity of the buyer with the court only reflecting the names of the special purpose entities that officially took ownership of each vessel. Citing unnamed sources, The Tribune in the Bahamas is reporting that the buyer is believed to be based in London.
Earlier today, according to AIS data, both cruise ships departed the dock in Freeport returning to the sea for the first time in weeks. They had recently come alongside with the court ordering that removable furnishings not belonging to the two entities that arrested the ships in February needed to be removed before Tuesday evening. Typically, this includes items such as casino fittings or merchandise in the shops which often belong to concessionaires. After the purchases were completed yesterday both ships were released and free to depart the Bahamas.
Court officials said that final reports will be prepared and that the court will meet to begin to resolve the financial claims. The vessels had been arrested in February by a fuel supplier and DNB which was the primary financial institution with secured leans on both ships. Crew members are among the debtors for unpaid wages as well as a long list of suppliers and vendors. There is also a bankruptcy process proceeding in the United States for Crystal Cruises.
It remains for the buyer to announce their intentions. These auctions only covered the ships and their equipment and not the brand name or any of the assets such as marketing databases from Crystal Cruises.
The expedition cruise ship Crystal Endeavor while also registered in the Bahamas went from South America where she was sailing when the cruise line suspended operations to Gibraltar where she remains. The liquidators overseeing the sale of the cruise line’s assets reportedly received strong interest from several buyers. Rumors in the cruise industry are that Royal Caribbean Group is acquiring the vessel for its Silversea Cruises brand, although Silversea has so far refused to confirm those reports.
This would complete the sale of the ocean going assets of Crystal Cruises. The cruise line also had river cruise ships that operated in Europe that are also believed to be for sale. The liquidators overseeing Genting Hong Kong sold the cruise ships from the Star Cruises brand but are believed to still be negotiating for the sale of two cruise ships operated by Dream Cruises. The third cruise ship operated by Dream Cruises was owned by Chinese banks which chartered the ship for the new Resorts World Cruises brand while the liquidator in Germany continues to seek a buyer for the incomplete Global Dream cruise ship. Lawyers working on the case expect it will take months to sort out all the claims and settle the debts.