Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. (Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises)
A&K Travel Group Ltd., the travel company owned by Geoffrey Kent and Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio’s holding company, has acquired the luxury cruise vessels Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, it was confirmed on June 22.
The prices were reported to be $25 million for Crystal Symphony, built in 1995, and $103 million for Crystal Serenity, which entered service in 2002.
The two ships will resume service in 2023 after undergoing extensive refurbishment and will operate under the Crystal Cruises brand, which also was acquired.
The two ships were on the market after Crystal, operated by Genting Hong Kong, suspended operations in January and shut down in February, ending a world cruise on Crystal Serenity after just two weeks in January.
Both ships were seized by authorities in The Bahamas in early February for unpaid fuel bills of more than $4 million.
“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,” Lefebvre d’Ovidio said in a statement. “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. … 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 d’Ovidio, founder and former owner of Silversea Cruises, also is co-chairman of A&K Travel Group Ltd., Crystal Cruises and Abercrombie & Kent, the luxury tour operator founded by Kent. Lefebvre d’Ovidio bought into A&K in 2019 through his Heritage Group, a private equity firm. Silversea is now part of Royal Caribbean Group.
“Even though it seems like yesterday, 30 years have passed since the Lefebvre family and I had our first ship together,” Kent said. “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 will be co-chairman of A&K Travel Group Ltd. and Crystal Cruises. He founded Abercrombie & Kent in 1962 with his parents.
Crystal Cruises and Abercrombie & Kent will report to Cristina Levis, CEO of A&K Travel Group Ltd., who commented: “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,” Levis said. “Ad maiora Crystal Cruises!” The Italian term means “towards greater things.”
A&K Travel Group Ltd. has partnered with V.Ships Leisure, a leading cruise ship manager based in Monaco, to operate the ships.
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