Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery Cruise Lines' Parent Company Goes Bust

January 4, 2017
Voyages of Discovery's Voyager

(Update January 11, 2017, 4:15 p.m. GMT) -- Voyager has been "arrested" in Singapore, days after the collapse of parent company All Leisure Group. When a ship is arrested it means the vessel is used as payment towards any outstanding debts or salaries.

(3:15 p.m. GMT) -- The parent company of two popular British cruise lines -- Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery -- has gone bust, forcing the cancellation of two cruises and leaving 400 people trying to get home from Malaysia and Marseille.

All Leisure Holidays Group announced it was ceasing trading today -- meaning some 13,000 advance bookings have also been cancelled and "the majority" of crew working on the two ships have lost their jobs.

The Civil Aviation Authority confirmed 400 passengers were currently abroad, which it was trying to repatriate. A statement read: "Approximately 400 customers are currently overseas, but the vast majority of these will be able to use the scheduled airline tickets included as part of their booking to return to the UK shortly. The CAA has made arrangements to bring the small number of remaining passengers back to the UK at no extra cost."

Yesterday, the line announced Swan Hellenic's 15-day Gateway to Atlantic Isles' voyage onboard the 352-passenger Minerva, due to depart Marseille today, had been cancelled. The company also cancelled Voyages of Discovery's 15-day Riches of the Orient itinerary onboard Voyager, scheduled to depart Port Kelang in Malaysia today.

Statements on both websites announced the cruises had been cancelled due to "operational reasons". However, a statement posted on the Swan Hellenic website today updated the situation confirming that insolvency firm Grant Thornton had been appointed as administrators of the business.

The statement reads: "Regrettably, and due to the adverse financial position of ALH, the business has ceased to trade resulting in the majority of employees being made redundant and the cancellation of all future voyages."

It is not clear yet what will happen to the two ships. ALG owner Roger Allard, speaking to Travel Trade Gazette confirmed he had tried to sell the two vessels, but that "it was hard to sell something that's not making any money".

It is understood that Voyager is for sale, but Minerva was leased and is not ALG's to sell.

Both ships have traditionally offered itineraries to the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa, and have suffered badly since the area became unstable.

Allard said: "Since the Arab Spring and as a result of other events, the world has become a smaller place and it was no longer possible for us to take our small ships to Egypt, Libya and north Africa, Lebanon, Syria, the Black Sea have all become difficult and even Istanbul and Turkey have now been removed from the map."

A third ship -- Hebridean Princess -- was sold last year to a group of investors. The 49-passenger boutique vessel, which sails round the Scottish islands and highlands, is famous for being chartered twice by HM The Queen.

All Leisure was a member of ABTA and all passengers will be financially protected. Passengers should visit the ABTA website in order to find out how to make a claim.

--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor