Silversea sues the new Crystal Cruises over sales hire: Travel Weekly

Silversea Cruises and Royal Caribbean Group are suing the new Crystal Cruises, Crystal senior vice president of global sales Matias Andres Lira, and Abercrombie & Kent USA. 

Royal and Silversea accused Lira, a former Silversea executive, of breaching his contract, fiduciary duties and the Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Royal and Silversea also accuse Crystal Cruises and A&K of interfering with Lira’s contracts with Silversea. 

Royal and Silversea are seeking $750,000 in damages and for Lira to honor a nondisclosure and noncompete agreement he had signed with his former employer. 

The 137-page lawsuit was filed on Aug. 31 in the 11th judicial court in Miami-Dade County. A&K USA, Crystal Cruises and Lira have yet to file a formal response with the court and declined to comment. Royal Caribbean Group also declined to comment. 

The suit comes as Silversea and the new Crystal Cruises both prepare to launch ships formerly owned by the defunct Crystal Cruises, which ceased operations last January. 

Under new ownership by A&K, the new Crystal Cruises announced it had acquired the Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity in June and plans to deploy the ships in early 2023 after a refurbishment. 

Silversea announced in July it had acquired the Crystal Endeavor, an expedition ship. The line has renamed the ship the Silver Endeavour and plans to launch it in November.   

In hot pursuit of the Crystal Cruises brand was Manfredi Lefebvre, who manages Heritage Group, a private equity firm that owns Abercrombie & Kent. Lefebvre is founder of Silversea Cruises, which he sold to Royal Caribbean Group in 2020.

Lira had served as Silversea’s vice president of passenger services and sales support since 2017. He was responsible for growing consumer sales, air and trade reservations and had, Royal says in the suit, signed an employment contract that included a noncompete agreement in which he agreed to withhold from working for another luxury cruise line for two years after leaving Silversea employment.

Less than two weeks after the announcement that A&K would resurrect the Crystal Cruises brand and redeploy two of its former ships, Lira announced he would leave Silversea but did not say that he would be working for another cruise line. 

Silversea and Royal allege in their filing that Lira sent confidential Silversea information to his personal email during his last week on the job, including a spreadsheet containing “Silversea Trade Secret Employee Incentive Formulas” and a “Key Contact List” with nonpublic contact information for certain Silversea suppliers, technological partners, travel advisors, airlines and charter brokers.

The lawsuit alleges that Lira violated provisions of his employment agreement to keep trade secrets and propriety information of Silversea confidential. It further alleges that Lira also violated stock grant agreements, which included a condition that he would not work directly or indirectly for another cruise-related business with a fleet of at least 500 berths for six months after leaving the company.

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