(12:45 p.m. EDT) -- Adventure cruise company Vantage Travel Deluxe has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection and agreed to sell its assets to United Travel Pte. Ltd., an affiliate of Heritage Expeditions and Nordic Hamburg.
Vantage World Travel Deluxe has added a disclaimer on its official website, linking to a landing page with the details of the transaction and a short FAQ. Beyond this notice, the website is still functional and otherwise unchanged.
The Chapter 11 filing -- submitted June 29 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts -- reveals that Vantage's accounts payable debts rise to about $28 million. Additionally, related court-filed documents indicate that claims by existing customers who have made payments for future trips are estimated at about $80.3 million. Claims for refunds and for amounts due related to trip insurance claims against Vantage's trip insurance programs total approximately $32 million and $5.4 million, respectively.
United Travel Pte. Ltd. is a tour company based in Singapore, offering travel services in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Heritage Expeditions is a cruise and tour company based in Christchurch, New Zealand that operates two ships: the 140-passenger Heritage Adventurer and the 18-passenger Heritage Explorer.
It is as of yet unclear how United Travel and its parent companies plan to operate Vantage's assets if and when the sale goes through. According to the website's disclaimer, "details regarding future trips, refunds and credits will be communicated as the acquisition and court proceedings progress." The disclaimer also says that United Travel Pte. Ltd. Has agreed to provide Vantage's customers "with future opportunities for the travel experiences and the luxury service that they have come to expect."
Based in Boston, Vantage offered ocean cruises in Europe, the Mediterranean, North America, Alaska, South America, Asia and the Middle East; expedition cruises in Antarctica, the Arctic and South America; as well as land excursions in North America, South America, Asia and the South Pacific The company also offered river cruises in Europe and Egypt.
Vantage's passengers are understandably anxious to learn what will happen to the money invested in future trips, which according to court documents ascends to about $80 million. In Cruise Critic's message boards, threads have already surfaced to discuss this topic.
As the bankruptcy filing stands, however, these questions are still largely unanswered. The first date of the bankruptcy and subsequent sale hearing is yet to be determined. As part of the sale, however, there is a commitment from United Travel to provide credit to Vantage's customers who have paid for future travel.
According to court documents related to the bankruptcy filing, United Travel agreed to provide a credit to Vantage's customers who purchased travel arrangements prior to May 11, 2023, if they book a tour with United Travel. The credit will be based on the amount each customer had paid to Vantage that has not been reimbursed through refund, insurance, credit card chargeback or similar sources. The court document also states that the amount of the credit will be equal to the lesser of the amount paid by such the customer, and 20% percent of the price of the trip purchased from Vantage, as long as the credit doesn't exceed 20% of the price of the trip purchased from United Travel.
The document further states that, starting May 12, 2023, Vantage had deposited in a segregated account all the cash payments received from its customers for future travel. To date, the balance of this account is $2.1 million. If the sale goes through, this amount will be transferred to United Travel. The Singapore-based company will then determine if it will operate Vantage's scheduled trips on the scheduled timeframe. For the scheduled trips that United Travel opts to not operate, it will refund Vantage's customers using money from the segregated account's fund within five business days of the sale closing.