Boston-based cruise company Vantage lays off all employees, consumer advocate says

BOSTON — Amid ongoing investigations, lawsuits and hundreds of consumer complaints, Boston cruise company Vantage Deluxe World Travel laid off its employees last week, according to Consumer Rescue.

Consumer advocate and mediator Michelle Couch-Friedman said she spoke to multiple former Vantage employees who told her the company let them go over a company-wide phone call June 20.

“Right up until last Tuesday they were told they were going to be saved by some mysterious investor. That’s why they continued to work and sell these cruises,” Couch-Friedman said. “The employees that contacted me were very upset. They really did believe this was not going to be the end of Vantage.”

The Canal St. company has been under fire for months after hundreds of consumers complained about a lack of refunds for cancelled or postponed trips. Earlier this month, the company quietly told its employees all trips through Aug. 28 are postponed, according to an internal memo obtained by Consumer Rescue.

The Mass. Attorney General’s Office has received 818 consumer complaints about Vantage since Jan. 1, 2020, including 181 complaints filed in 2023, an A.G. spokesperson said .

“We are currently providing consumer assistance to [Massachusetts] residents and advising non-residents to file [complaints] in their respective states,” the spokesperson said in an email June 20.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against Vantage earlier this month, accusing the company of “deceptive and unfair business practices” and taking advantage of older residents “by continuing to hold their refunds hostage.”

“Many of the impacted consumers were sixty years old or older,” Attorney General Michelle Henry said. “If Pennsylvania consumers pay for goods or services and get nothing in return, our office will fight for those victims.”

Vantage has not responded to requests for comment. The last statement was issued June 9 when the company’s attorney said Vantage was actively looking to sell the company.

“We are currently engaged in sensitive negotiations for a sale of the company. Our primary goal is to obtain the best outcome for our customers. Confidentiality agreements governing our negotiations prevent us from commenting further at this time,” Vantage General Counsel Rossella Mercuri said.

Couch-Friedman said what disturbs her is the Vantage website remains up and appears to be active, with no message or warning there are problems with the company.

“The fact is, the portal is open. Employees are telling me even today people can go in there and make a payment on a future cruise. I can’t imagine anyone today could say these cruises beyond August are going to operate. There’s no crew. There’s no employees,” Couch-Friedman said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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