(2:41 p.m. EDT) -- Nile river cruise specialist African Safari Club folded yesterday, March 16, leaving some 500 clients overseas in Egypt and Kenya, and thousands more with forward bookings affected.
A notice appeared on the Swiss-owned company's Web site yesterday stating that there would be no further outbound African Safari Club flights, and that flight tickets for booked holidays would not be valid. According to a report by the trade newspaper TTG, the collapse will affect up to 3,000 passengers who have booked future Nile cruises and Kenyan safaris. Of the 500 currently holidaying overseas, up to 190 are in Egypt.
Financial details of the collapse have not been revealed, but tourism in Egypt has been severely affected by the uprisings that occurred earlier this year, while consumer confidence in Kenya is weak because of the unstable security situation there.
African Safari Club was founded more than 40 years ago by a group of Swiss investors, and had a U.K. office in Bromley, Kent. In 1990, it acquired the 5,600-ton ship Royal Star, which operated cruises around the Indian Ocean until 2008. Meanwhile, the company had in 2006 started offering Nile cruises on the M.S. Star of Luxor and later, the five-star M.S. Da Vinci and the four-star M.S. Fleurette.
Luckily for passengers, the U.K. arm of the company was government bonded and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) advises anybody with a booking to first contact their travel agent, or if they booked direct, their credit card company. All other customers should claim a refund from the CAA, information about which is now available on www.atol.org.uk.
All passengers currently on holiday will be flown home at the end of their trip, according to the CAA.
-by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor