Voyages to Antiquity’s managing director “never gave up hope” the line would survive after its only ship suffered engine failure, until the launch of a new season was upon him, TTG can reveal.
Jos Dewing confirmed this week (11 September) the niche line would cease operations at the end of October after it was forced to cancel 10 summer sailings – affecting around 3,500 passengers – when Aegean Odyssey developed engine problems.
“I had never given up hope that a solution could be found, but it got to a point at the start of this month that it would get extremely difficult to launch a season,” said Dewing, speaking exclusively to TTG. “It was just too late in the day.”
“I’m very sad, and we do genuinely care about our team, customers and partners. I’m also very proud of what we achieved and I’m so grateful to agents who have supported us.
“We have a hugely loved brand and I feel this will definitely leave a gap in the market. [The brand] could be brought back, but it won’t be under my watch.”
Michelle Daniels, VTA’s head of commercial, added: “Our partners and agents have been incredibly understanding; we have received so many wonderful messages and best wishes.”
Both Dewing and Daniels thanked VTA’s staff and crew in the UK, US and onboard Aegean Odyssey “who have worked so hard through these difficult times”.
Lisa Henning, chief operating officer at The Travel Network Group, said while there had been “no major disruption” to members, the recent cancellations and agent commission queries had impacted the support VTA had from members.
“While we were able to resolve some queries, we couldn’t resolve them all and, as a result, some members switched off,” said Henning.
“It’s always sad to see a brand disappear and, as a business, they had a loyal following.”
VTA said, for the meantime, it was business as usual. Now Aegean Odyssey is fully repaired, the final four cruises of the 2019 season will go ahead as scheduled.
When the last departure returns on 14 October, the company will set about closing its Oxford office on 31 October.
In an industry already tackling an array of difficult market forces, Voyages to Antiquity’s dissolution goes to show the relatively fragile status of some travel businesses – especially those with just one asset. There is no doubt, though, that experienced industry figures Jos Dewing and Michelle Daniels will reappear in new roles before too long, following a difficult chapter for a passionate and committed team.