Cruise ship company Classic International Cruises has collapsed into voluntary administration and is potentially “many millions of dollars” in debt.
Bradley Tonks and John Vouris from Lawler Partners were appointed as voluntary administrators this week and customers and passenger cruises booked on the MV Athena cruise ship are being urged to contact them to make a claim.
The Athena is one of three Classic International Cruises ships stranded overseas because of unpaid debts and wages.
Classic International Cruises had been in talks to replace the Athena with a German ship after it was impounded in France over debts, but talks in Europe broke down.
Tonks told SmartCompany the administrators were still trying to get a replacement ship.
“We have identified a couple of ships at the moment and we are reviewing the viability of those,” he says.
“The longer it takes to source a viable option the less likely it is to be achieved.”
Tonks says Lawler Partners has enaged in discussions with a number of vessel owners and hopes to determine by next week whether a ship is likely to be available for the Australian summer.
“Given that it is not currently anticipated that it will sail, it has created a significant problem for those passengers that were going to sail,” he says.
“The major creditors at this stage are potentially the passengers and the agents who are due commissions on bookings.”
Tonks says the cruises for Classic International Cruises account for a third of all cruises in Western Australia during the summer and so if the Athena or a replacement is not available it is “a great loss to Western Australian tourism”.
He estimates Classic International Cruises’ debts will be “many millions of dollars” if passengers do not sail.
The Athena had been operating out of Western Australia for nine years and was due to operate seven cruises out of Fremantle and four out of Adelaide in the coming months, with 6,000 passengers booked on the cruises.
A first meeting of creditors is being held on November 12.
SmartCompany contacted Lawler Partners for comment but no response was available before publication.