Aurora Expeditions buys Vantage Deluxe Travel's assets

Pacific Travel Partners, a subsidiary of Aurora Expeditions, has acquired Vantage Deluxe Travel’s assets, including its customer and prospect list and intellectual property.

In the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts last week, Pacific Travel Partners agreed to take on obligations to unsecured creditors, including clients who paid for cruises that never happened. 

The company has plans to compensate guests with credits to book Aurora cruises. The credits would be used to pay for up 50% of the Aurora cruise fare, the company said. Aurora offers expedition cruises in Antarctica, the Arctic, Scotland and other destinations.

Pacific Travel Partners acquired Vantage’s assets but did not acquire the business nor agree to employ former management, the company said in a statement. The acquisition followed the failure and Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Vantage Deluxe Travel, a Massachusetts-based river and ocean cruise company.

Vantage’s collapse followed a string of canceled cruises that left guests waiting for refunds, many of which never came. Hundreds of complaints against the company poured into the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office over the last three years.  

Some clients are nonplussed that they will have to book with Aurora to recoup their lost deposits.

“Vantage customers are supposed to be happy with a ‘deal’ that gives them a future travel credit on a product most have no interest in,” said Marnie Brown Cress, who used to work in supplier management for Travel Leaders Group/Internova and now represents almost 1,000 Vantage customers. “They are mostly senior citizens who purchased river cruises and land tours. Polar simply does not match their profile.” 

Pacific Travel Partners said it will trade under a new business name and communicate with affected passengers over the next few weeks. The company said it will also install a team of customer service agents to handle inquiries from affected customers.

Aurora Expeditions sails the Greg Mortimer and the Sylvia Earle. The vessels are sister ships to the Ocean Odyssey and Ocean Explorer, which Vantage had been chartering from SunStone Maritime Group.  

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