Many Crystal Cruises' crew wait and hope for a return: Travel Weekly

Andrea Zelinski

Former cruise director Rick Spath is not ready to let go of his job at Crystal Cruises.

Neither, he said, are many of his fellow crew members.

Several people who worked for the now-defunct Crystal say that fellow crew members are holding out hope that a buyer will scoop up the storied line, employ the crew and restart operations after its parent company Genting Hong Kong said in January it was out of money and filed to wind up.

“I’ve been contacted by a few different lines, but I’m not doing anything at all, nothing until I know what’s happening with Crystal. At least for a couple more weeks. After that, it is what it is,” said Spath, a cruise director since 1984, with 17 years at Crystal.

Developments of Crystal Cruises’ unraveling have been slow over the last two months since Crystal ceased operations in February. Heritage Group, managed by Silversea Cruises founder Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, has reportedly expressed interest in acquiring the brand, although emailed messages for comment have not been returned.

The ships are under third-party management by V.Ships and River Advice Group, neither of which would confirm if and when auctions for the ships might be held. Meanwhile, travel advisors, customers and vendors are waiting to learn whether they will be paid what they are owed by the cruise line.

Bernie Leypold, Crystal’s past senior vice president of hotel operations, said he has given job recommendations to some staff who have applied for positions with other cruise lines. But a majority of the crew members he talks to, mainly on WhatsApp or via email, are “hardcore Crystal” and are holding out.

“There is Crystal DNA in many crew members,” he said. “Some members have been with Crystal for 30 years. They don’t want to go anywhere else. We’re all hoping for a buyer and a restart.

“The majority of the officers are still waiting and hoping because they’re still being paid. They’re not as desperate as, say, a crew member from the Philippines who needs to support his family at home.”

A Facebook page, Crystal Cruises Crew, is filled with posts sharing memories on the ships and navigating how crew members can ensure they receive owed wages. Members have also shared job postings for openings on cruise lines like Cunard, Azamara, Windstar, Regent Seven Seas and Viking.

Lauren Heavener, an administrator on the Facebook group, was a singer on the Crystal Serenity. She has since gotten a job on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship and is trying to help her fellow crew members figure out how to move forward, which she said is particularly painful because of the pandemic.

“You wait all that time to go back to the job you worked so hard to get, you think you’re past Covid and you’re in the clear and then the bankruptcy happened,” she said. “I think a lot of people are waiting and hoping because they don’t have another option.”

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