130 jobs at risk as cruise business goes under

The offices of Cruise and Maritime Voyages in Purfleet, which has collapsed because of the coronavir

The offices of Cruise and Maritime Voyages in Purfleet, which has collapsed because of the coronavirus crisis Picture: GOOGLEMAPS - Credit: Archant

A once-thriving cruise business has been sunk by the coronavirus crisis.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) in Purfleet and its sister companies have been placed into administration after a rough few months for the sector – which has been left high and dry by a prolonged period in lockdown.

Holidays and reservation company CMV and sister businesses South Quay Travel & Leisure Ltd, Independent Coach Travel (Wholesaling) Ltd and Viceroy Ltd employ a total of 130 people.

MORE – Cruise line firm expands its fleet while ships locked downPaul Williams, Phil Dakin and Edward Bines of Duff & Phelps – who have been appointed joint administrators – said the UK workforce was “likely” to be made redundant and the future of employees in the wider group was “uncertain”.

As well as its Essex base, CMV – which sold holidays onto six ships owned by separate offshore companies and not affected by the administration – has sales offices in Australia, France, the United States and TransOcean Kreuzfahrten in Germany which have also ceased trading.

The travel, tourism and wider hospitality sector had been “engulfed with a devastating and unprecedented global pandemic of seismic proportions impacting very hard on CMV’s once thriving cruise business compounded by last week’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advisory against cruise travel”, said Mr Williams.

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CMV managed to repatriate crew, passengers and six ships from around the world back to their home ports in the UK without one single reported coronavirus case when the pandemic struck earlier this year.

But the suspension of its worldwide cruise programme – affecting more than 50,000 British and international passengers – had a profound effect on the business, and despite best efforts it was unable to secure the long-term funding it needed.

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Chief executive Christian Verhounig said only last year, the firm was celebrating a record trading year.

“The CMV journey has tragically been cut short by this unprecedented global pandemic. Prior to the onset of Covid-19, we had sold nearly 90% of 2020 capacity and we had bullish prospects for the future having sold nearly 50% of 2021 UK capacity,” he said.

“The directors have all worked tirelessly with CMV’s financial advisers, investment bankers, lawyers, and numerous private equity and hedge fund investors to try and secure the funding required to enable CMV to weather the storm.”

Mr Verhounig said it was a “wonderful business”. “We are truly sorry to our loyal and hard-working shoreside staff and seafarers, travel trade partners and suppliers who have all patiently stood by us and to our valued passengers for the disappointment and further disruption to their cruising holiday plans,” he said.

“On behalf of the CMV family, directors and shareholders, I would like to thank everyone for their great support and sincerely apologise for these circumstances which are directly related to Covid-19 and beyond our control.”

The boss of Ipswich-based cruise company Fred.Olsen expressed sadness at the loss of CMV – but unlike the Purfleet company it has a much more buoyant outlook.

The Suffolk firm – which now owns a six-strong fleet after snapping up two more ships just this month – has been striving to strengthen its position through the crisis, and is looking forward to the point when cruises can relaunch.

“All of us at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines were very sad to hear the news about Cruise and Maritime Voyages overnight,” said Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines managing director Peter Deer.

“CMV has been a well-known brand within the cruise industry for more than 10 years, and their absence from the market will be felt. It’s especially sad for their guests and their staff, who have been with them for many years.

“There is no doubt that Covid-19 has created a very challenging period for the travel industries, and cruise in particular. What we at Fred. Olsen are doing is positioning our business in a way to secure our longer term future, and we are really pleased to have our two new ships, Bolette and Borealis, to help us to do this.

“We are looking forward sailing with them when it is safe for us to do so.”

Fred.Olsen owns the Balmoral, Braemar, Black Watch and Boudicca, and now the Bolette and Borealis.

CMV customers affected by its collapse should visit Cruise & Maritime Voyages and TransOcean Kreuzfahrten local websites to make a claim.

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