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Island Escape Cruises sinks into receivership

Island Escape Cruises (NZ) Limited has been placed into receivership at the hands of its financiers, while its 32-passenger Island Escape - owned by a company named Seasons Shipping Limited - has been arrested in Broome pursuant to a Federal Court Order.

AFTER a spate of cancelled departures out of Broome and repeated promises that things are getting back on track, New Zealand-based Island Escape Cruises has been put out of its misery with the appointment of Auckland-based insolvency specialists Calibre Partners as receivers.

The move was brought about by the company’s lenders including the Bank of New Zealand, and came after a rising tide of complaints about the boutique operator and the abrupt resignation of former CEO Peter Bissett early last month. His replacement, Erik Helseth, who is one of the directors of the company and is believed to be based in Singapore, assured travelBulletin just a month ago that things were getting back on track.

“We are working day and night to resume operation,” he advised via email, adding: “All guests on cancelled cruises have been informed that they will receive refund of tickets; due to lack of staff and a huge effort to resume operation this unfortunately takes longer than we hoped for. We are in the final stage of solving the issues and hope to be able to share the good news with the industry very soon and to come back stronger than before. Our new itineraries in the Pacific next year have been very well received, together with our Ultimate Fiordland voyages,” Helseth enthused.

However sadly there has been no resumption, and with its appointment as receivers Calibre Partners has written to passengers with future reservations saying “due to the company’s financial position and the vessel arrest prior to receivership, the Receivers are unable to resume trading the Island Escape business. This means that the cruise you booked will not go ahead”.

“If you have paid for your booking, or paid a deposit to Island Escape Cruises (NZ) Ltd, we regret to advise you that the Company cannot pay you a refund. We expect that any money you are owed ranks as an unsecured claim against the company,” according to the letter signed by Natalie Burrett, Joint Receiver of the business.

Interestingly a separate Australian-registered company, Island Escape Cruises (Australia) Pty Ltd is not part of the receivership, with Calibre confirming that “the directors of that company remain in control of that company”. ASIC records indicate that the Australian-based company’s sole Director and Secretary is John Robert Annat of Churchlands, Western Australia, while the company is 100% owned by the New Zealand-based business.

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