Crystal appears to be aiming to make amends with guests and travel advisors in relation to its refund processes.
Last year, the luxury line admitted to trade media in the US that its handling of refunds due to COVID-19 cruise cancellations has caused “frustration and angst with those affected”, despite having processed more than US$100 million since its voluntary fleetwide cancellations began in March last year.
In August, travel advisor and passenger concerns escalated when Crystal’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong, defaulted on over US$3 million in debt payments.
“We recognise and apologise that we have fallen short of our service standard. We remain committed to fulfilling all obligations to our guests,” Crystal told Travel Weekly in the USA in December.
And in Crystal’s most recent social media post on Facebook announcing that reservations have opened for new 2022 Europe River Cruise departures in 2023 aboard Crystal Mozart and Crystal Mahler, one disgruntled customer remarked, “It would be nice if Crystal completed the refunds for 2020 Mahler first before opening 2022“.
Last week, Crystal readdressed the refund crisis in a statement, offering consumers and agents confidence the luxury line will improve its process going forward.
“As with the entire travel industry, and cruising in particular, Crystal has been negatively impacted by this global pandemic of uncommon proportions,” the company said.
“While we have a 30-year history of delivering a stellar guest experience, we have examined the events of the last year to learn from and evolve our policies and procedures to ensure that, moving forward, we will provide the six-star service for which we are historically known thus earning back the trust and favour of the world’s most discerning travellers,” Crystal said.
To achieve this, Crystal has established secure, non-operating reserve accounts with its financial partners that will be used to hold all refundable payments, “allowing us to process future refunds in a timelier manner,” the cruise line said.
Effective immediately, Crystal will also resume collecting deposit payments after an extended period of enabling future cruisers to take advantage of a no-deposit-down deposit window, which has been available since July 2020.
Refundable payments will now be deposited into these new reserve accounts, along with additional channels of available funds and credit, which “will ensure 100 percent coverage for all refundable payments”.
Non-refundable payments received, as well as air and insurance, will be excluded from the reserve accounts.
“We want to thank our guests and travel partners for their patience and understanding over this past difficult year. Our officers, staff and crew are ready to welcome our Crystal Family home as we resume service this summer,” Crystal concluded.