Administrator Lawler Partners had tried to find another ship to replace the impounded Athena -- which was due to set sail from Marseilles to Perth this Monday (Nov. 12) and operate 20 cruises Down Under before sailing back to Europe. Many passengers were due to fly out this weekend from Australia to France to join the ship, which is currently impounded in Marseille due to unpaid debts. Many have been posting on the Cruise Critic message boards asking for advice and news.
max rat cruzer's comments are typical: "Does anyone know the date the Athena was arressted? I paid for my cruise on october 2nd, I would think my travel agent should have known about this, any thoughts?"
Another reader, Alan Dumelow, of Cruise Project Management U.K. has subsequently contacted us, regarding the story.
He wrote: "Apart from the very sad demise of CIC in total, it is deplorable that the Administrators couldn't get a ship to Marseille to replace Athena, leaving many Australian passengers stranded in France who put their faith in Mr Hunter.
"The day after CIC-Australia went into Administration, my company offered assistance, listing seven potential ships in the Med and very close by (in "warm" lay-up and available), plus contact details with owners' charter managers.2 emails, ignored, unacknowledged and not even a thank you."
According to Australia's Department of Consumer Protection most passengers have paid deposits of 40 per cent.
It is unclear at this stage whether that money can be recovered, but those passengers who booked through a licensed travel agency should contact them first to determine whether the funds have been transferred to the cruise company.
CIC Australia had been in talks with Cruise & Maritime Voyages to replace Athena with a German ship Delphin after it was impounded, but talks in Europe broke down last week. The financial issues relate to the European owners of the CIC ships, and not to CIC Australia. However, CIC Australia managing director Grant Hunter has stated that CIC Australia was put into voluntary administration to isolate its money from the problems of the European owners.
We have been unable to contact CIC Europe, despite repeated attempts.
Athena has spent the past nine years operating cruises along the Western Australia coast, and was due to operate 20 sailings this season. Are you affected by the CIC collapse? Let us know by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor