It looks like the much-anticipated comeback of Orient Lines is over — at least for now.
Citing the worsening economic climate, the company says it will “delay” the revival it had planned for April 2009 and will refund all the money passengers have paid for upcoming voyages. It gave no timetable for when cruises might resume.
“All guests that have booked a cruise with Orient Lines shall be given a full and prompt refund and, if requested . . . assistance with making alternative cruise vacation arrangements,” Orient Lines president and CEO Wayne Heller says in a statement.
Heller added that the company still hopes to make a comeback down the road. “We are exploring possible options to re-launch . . . at a more favorable time in the near future,” he says.
The shutdown is not entirely unexpected as it comes in the wake of widespread layoffs at Orient Lines in recent weeks.
Founded in 1991, Orient made its name as a destination-focused company that offered voyages to Antarctica, Asia and other off-the-beaten-path places. It initially shut down earlier this year when its single ship, the Marco Polo, was taken over by U.K.-based Transocean Tours.
The company got another lease on life this summer when Heller, an industry veteran who founded an Orlando-based travel agency, Cruises Only, announced plans to restart the line with a new ship, the 39-year-old Maxim Gorkiy (renamed the Marco Polo II).