Cruise West Suspends New Bookings Due to Financial Woes

by  Elina Vaysbeyn | Sep 9, 2010
Cruise West
Cruise West / Photo courtesy of the cruise line

In an ambiguous, but not unexpected, turn of events, small-ship cruise carrier Cruise West suspended all new bookings on September 7, due to a companywide fiscal restructuring, as first noted in their Seattle headquarters’ phone answering message. Evincing financial stress back in July, the cruise line took out a $1.5 million loan, and was looking into selling certain assets in order to refinance – the freshly publicized fate of the 120-passenger Spirit of Oceanus. More damning, however, is former Cruise West President and CEO Dietmar Wertanzl's resignation on August 30, which successfully flew under the media's radar, but now seems to undermine Chairman Dick West's statements to Cruise Industry News and Seatrade Insider that change of ownership "rumors are 'vastly exaggerated'" and that the company had not been sold.

The cruise line was forced to sever a 335-night expedition on the majestic Oceanus on September 8. Setting sail on March 6, Voyages of the Great Explorers was scheduled to visit ports in Southeast Asia, Europe, South America, and more, however, passengers were instructed to disembark in Newfoundland (a planned port call) – and apply for reimbursement on a case-by-case basis.

Cruise West's press release aired on September 8, vaguely touching on "restructure" efforts and the selling of assets, and confirming that U.S. itineraries aboard the Spirit of Endeavor and Spirit of '98 are still in effect through October, for scheduled cruises to British Columbia and along the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Alaska cruises and land tours that are currently in transit will also complete their trips.

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