Ontario Council Probes Cruise Line

After an extensive review and audit by the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, defunct cruise line Marine Expeditions owes up to 618 booked passengers a total of C$1.6 million in reimbursements.

By: Robert Carlsen

After an extensive review and audit by the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, defunct cruise line Marine Expeditions owes up to 618 booked passengers a total of C$1.6 million in reimbursements.

TICO officials, according to President and CEO Michael Pepper, froze C$750,000 in Marine funds as security for the potential claims from passengers who have not yet sailed.

Pepper said TICO was trying to determine who these passengers are and assist them in filing claims.

Pepper said the line's parent company, Canadian Ventures Travel, also owned a separate retail agency, Marine Expeditions Travel, which handled air and cruise sales for the line.

He said the travel agency was registered, as required for all travel sellers in Ontario, with TICO. Marine Expeditions, the cruise line, was not required to be registered since it did not, in Pepper's understanding, sell travel directly to consumers. Registered travel companies in the province pay into the Travel Compensation Fund for reimbursements to consumers left stranded by companies closing down.

Marine Expeditions had not, at press time, filed any bankruptcy plans with the provincial government.

Any U.S. passengers booked on future Marine Expeditions cruises who paid money to the agency are being asked to call TICO at 905-624-6241.

The original Toronto-based Marine Expeditions was founded in 1992 by President Dugald Wells, and Sam Blyth, who now runs Blyth and Co. Travel, also based in Toronto. Blyth split from Marine and Wells last year when Marine was emerging from a reorganization.

Blyth was also involved in the failed World Cruise Co., a sister company to Marine Expeditions, and Cuba Cruise Corp., which stalled on launch last winter due to terrorist threats.

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