April 28, 2003
Regal Cruises has closed its gangways. The effective-immediately failure of the one-ship cruise line, which operated the venerable (1950s-era) Regal Empress, is not a surprise, alas, as the company had been forced to cancel its last two voyages due to a legal dispute over a $750,000 bill for engine repair. At that time, the company announced it was seeking to resolve the issue with Motor Services Hugo Stamp, Inc., which had gotten legal permission to have federal marshals arrest Regal Empress on April 18.
In a statement, issued by Regal Cruises¹ board of directors, the company credited its failure to a number of factors beyond the already-tough-challenge posed by the engine-related financial dispute. It¹s efforts, ultimately in vain, to attempt to sell the cruise ship were known but the company also was rocked by the ³the world-wide decline in travel and tourism.² Chillingly, the climate today -- following war with Iraq -- is quite reminiscent of that of the post-September 11 era when two cruise lines, Renaissance and American Classic Voyages, suddenly shut their doors.
No details on passenger refund options were forthcoming -- though if past experience is any indicator, the refund process is a years-long slog, even though Regal had posted a bond with the Federal Maritime Commission, and may or may not yield any satisfaction. Travelers who purchased their cruise by credit card -- always the safest way -- should immediately contact their provider. Otherwise, those who paid by check or cash will have to wait and see.