Crystal's Rodriguez Quells Fears Over Genting Transition

Cruise Week
Edie Rodriguez

The news back in early March that Genting Hong Kong, owners of Star Cruises, would purchase Crystal Cruises from NYK stirred a common prediction among top luxury producers: quality will fall off as Star doesn’t have the reputation of Crystal in the luxury business.

This issue is of particular importance for Crystal as reservations often take place far in advance for this line - the books are already open for cruises into 2018.

During recent press conferences, President & COO Edie Rodriguez, well aware of how talk can impact business, is energetically addressing the concerns.

“Genting will be our new owner,” she affirmed, explaining the genesis of the transition as follows: “After me driving them nuts with my vision of 7 [Crystal] ships for 7 continents, NYK decided they had to pay up and grow this brand or find a company who will. Hence, welcome Genting.”

During the press event we attended, Rodriguez had just returned from a tour of Genting’s operations. "Thomas Mazloum [Crystal Executive V.P.] and I went on a whirlwind tour because they wanted us to understand their company,” she explained. “We visited their 3 headquarters in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. They're just fascinating, brilliant business people and they have a lot of financial resources.”

“The company is really cash-flow positive and they're ready to spend,” Rodriguez says.

“Our new chairman, Tan Shri Lim Kok Thay, believes in the vision. He didn't buy this brand for anything other than the fact that it is the world's most luxurious and he has the same vision to grow it. So, as you saw, concurrent with the announcement that we were being acquired, a new ship build was announced.”

She indicated one can expect Crystal will always have at least 3 ships in the water moving forward: “This owner doesn't want just 1 ship. He wants many ships. So we will continue to grow this brand.”

Rodriguez is aware there’s been a lot of speculation about the potential for changes to Crystal’s onboard ambiance. “The first thing I was hearing was 'Oh, you’re going to be Star Cruises.' No, we’re not. We happen to have a parent company that owns Star Cruises.”

Star Cruises, she says, will continue to do its own thing, as will Crystal. “We will operate separately. We wish them well. But we won’t have anything to do with each other.”

Rodriguez is also aware of speculation regarding NCL, Prestige Cruise Holdings and Crystal, given that Genting Chairman Tan Sri Lim was on the board for NCLH back when the deal was announced. Speculation has ranged from Regent taking over Crystal to the connection with NCL subverting the Crystal brand (even though the deal may not even close until as late as 30JUN).

“Now let’s go to the NCL point,” Rodriguez told the press. “Our chairman owned 28% of NCL Holdings. We announced our deal on March 3rd. On March 4th, he excused himself from being Chairman of the Board and came off the board. That was his decision because he just didn’t want any of this innuendo going on out there.”

Genting Hong Kong has also reduced its stake in NCLH from 28% to 21%. There are no longer any Genting members on the NCLH board, privy to inside information involving Regent Seven Seas and Oceania. “We see no conflict of interest there and we see no challenges,” said Rodriguez.

She describes Crystal as a stand-alone company. “Tomorrow when the deal closes, we will be stand-alone Crystal Cruises, except we will grow this brand with a very resourceful, well-financially-backed parent that will take us forward to the next generation.”

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