Antarctic Cruise Company Goes Out of Business

A successor company to longtime Antarctic cruise operator Marine Expeditions Inc. of Toronto, which went bankrupt last year, abruptly announced earlier this month that it too was ceasing operations. The action forced 27passengers to abort an Arctic trip.

The new company, called Marine Expeditions, had been formed by former managers of the previous company, which collapsed after an allied business, World Cruise Co., left passengers stranded on a cruise in May 2000 and went out of business. In February, both Marine Expeditions Inc. and the World Cruise Co. were charged with operating without proper registration by the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, Canada (TICO); the new company was registered in March, said Michael Pepper, president and CEO of the TICO.

On June 7, the day after Marine Expeditions announced it was out of business, passengers on the Lyubov Orlova ship were diverted to Dublin from Reykjavik, Iceland, where they had been scheduled to board a plane for home, according to Dugald Wells, CEO of Marine Expeditions. He said there was a misunderstanding with the shipowner over port fees. Passengers were flown home from Dublin.

Callers to Marine Expeditions, telephone (800) 263-9147, last week were referred to TICO, at (905) 624-6241, for information on refunds. Pepper said his agency would cover only certain deposits made through travel agencies in Ontario province, up to $3,500 Canadian (about $2,280 U.S.) per person. Wells contended that "in virtually every case" the approximately 800 customers, who made a total of $1.8 million in deposits for future cruises, will be compensated through TICO or funds held in a trust account by the Ontario travel agency that booked the trips. Wells also disputed TICO's charges regarding registration of the two defunct companies.

Compiled by JANE ENGLE

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