|photo by U.S. Coast Guard|
After keeping the lid on its plans to restructure for more than a day, Cruise West issued a press release late Wednesday regarding the company's future.
While some questions were answered, many more remained. Here’s what Travel Agent knows…
In its statement, Cruise West said it is continuing “to work towards a restructuring of the company and its operations.”
The line also said “additional assets may be sold and other steps are being pursued toward a restructure.” No further details were provided on that front.
Spirit of Oceanus
The line stated that the first move in its restructuring efforts was to terminate the Spirit of Oceanus’ “Voyage of the Great Explorers” itinerary. That voyage was the line’s World Cruise.
The statement said the "voyage ended at its scheduled point of disembarkation so as to minimize any negative impact to our guests.” In reality, however, that voyage terminated at the end of one segment of the World Cruise, not at the end of the full cruise.
Passengers had previously confirmed to several media organizations that they were put off the ship at St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Cruise West recommended that guests booked on Spirit of Oceanus “who may be affected by this news and have not yet traveled” should take the following steps:
* If third-party travel insurance was obtained, a claim should be placed immediately with the insurer.
* If payment was made by credit card, a claim should be placed immediately with the card issuer.
* If the payment was made by cash or check, and you have no travel insurance, send an e-mail to [email protected].
The line said in the statement that it has “suspended accepting any new bookings.”
A recorded message playing Wednesday and early Thursday on Cruise West’s main phone line said the reservations center was “temporarily closed.”
Existing Bookings on Other Ships
As for other existing bookings beyond those on Spirit of Oceanus, the line said: “Cruise West plans to continue to operate its U.S. flag ships and itineraries through October 2010.”
As part of that decision, Spirit of Endeavor will sail from Seattle on the British Columbia cruise and the Spirit of ’98 from Portland, OR, along the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
The line said it will also complete cruises or land tours already underway in Alaska.
Statement and Press Response
After the statement was made, the home page of www.cruisewest.com was taking all site visitors directly to the official statement without navigation available to any other pages on that website.
The statement also said that “Cruise West executives will not respond to media inquiries or accept interviews at this time.” Travel Agent had requested the opportunity to talk with Dick West or another spokesman at the line.
Cruise West— which had previously told callers to its main phone line that “we are in the process of restructuring the company with new owners”—also changed that message yesterday to emphasize: “Cruise West has not been sold.”
It’s not known how far along in the restructuring process the line is, whether the line ultimately will be sold, or what direction the restructuring might take.
In its statement, Cruise West also did not specifically address the current status of Spirit of Oceanus, beyond saying the “Voyage of the Great Explorers” was terminated. So, where is the ship now, has it been sold and who is operating it?
Travel Agent also wonders if any clients without insurance affected by the recent actions will receive refunds or whether agents will receive commissions owed to them.
There is no word on that yet, but industry sources say it’s generally not a good sign when a supplier begins telling guests to contact insurers and credit card companies and make claims.
And what will happen to Cruise West’s cruise schedule beyond October? Again, these questions remain unanswered.
Travel Agent will continue to provide updates …