A&K to resurrect Crystal Cruises brand

Ultra-luxury travel company expands into big ship cruising

The former Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity in Sydney on a prior visit

A&K Travel Group co-owners, Geoffrey Kent and Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, have been confirmed as the buyers of luxury cruise ships Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. The sister ships, formerly part of the Crystal Cruises brand, were acquired by an undisclosed buyer last week for US$103 million and US$25 million respectively.

Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony will resume service in 2023 after extensive upgrades, and will continue to operate under the brand name Crystal Cruises – also acquired by A&K Travel Group Ltd.

The potential sale to d’Ovidio, and his possible linking with Abercrombie & Kent, was foreshadowed by LATTE last month.

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“I am thrilled to start this new chapter and to be back in an industry that has always had, and always will have a special place in my heart,” said Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Co-Chairman of A&K Travel Group Ltd., Crystal Cruises and Abercrombie & Kent.

“Thirty-five years ago, my family acquired control of Sitmar Cruises, building three of the first purpose-built cruise ships, and 30 years ago my family pioneered a new way of cruising. Our goal was to deliver the best experience, pampering guests from all over the world with around-the-clock butler service and extraordinary culinary experiences.”

Manfredi Lefebvre and Geoffrey Kent

Lefebvre d’Ovidio was also the previous owner of Silversea Cruises, selling the majority of the business to Royal Caribbean Group in 2018, and the remaining share in 2020.

“Selling the cruise business that belonged to my family for a quarter of a century was a difficult decision, as I knew I would miss this industry immensely. Therefore, when the opportunity arose to acquire Crystal Cruises, I did not think about it twice.”

“Having next to me my incredible friend and inspiring leader Geoffrey Kent makes this venture even more enjoyable,” Lefebvre said.

Geoffrey Kent, Co-Chairman of A&K Travel Group Ltd. and Crystal Cruises, and Founder, Co-Chairman and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent, said: “Even though it seems like yesterday, 30 years have passed since the Lefebvre family and I had our first ship together…Manfredi and I have been best friends and business associates ever since.

“The idea of combining the unparalleled onboard service that Crystal Cruises is known for, with the extraordinary tailor-made experiences Abercrombie & Kent has been successfully providing for our guests for the past 60 years, fills me with excitement, enthusiasm and pride,” Kent added.

Crystal Serenity and former river cruise sibling, Crystal Bach

Crystal Cruises and Abercrombie & Kent will report to Cristina Levis, CEO of A&K Travel Group Ltd.

Commenting on the deal, Levis said: “My return to luxury cruising after five years brings back so many emotions. It is an immense privilege to serve these two incredible brands that in the past decades have disrupted the travel industry numerous times.

“Manfredi, Geoffrey and I look forward to welcoming past Crystal and Abercrombie & Kent guests onboard, as well as those seeking rewarding luxury experiences.”

“The acquisition of Crystal has been extremely challenging but the satisfaction of having this jewel in our family is the best payoff for all the hard work and efforts of the A&K team. Ad maiora Crystal Cruises!”

A&K Travel Group Ltd. has partnered with V.Ships Leisure, the world’s leading cruise ship manager, based in Monaco.

No mention of Crystal’s four-ship European river cruise fleet was mentioned as part of the deal. It has also been reported that Crystal’s expedition vessel, Crystal Endeavor, has been purchased by Silversea, however no formal confirmation of the potential sale has been made as yet.

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