Travel agency shuts down, putting trips in jeopardy

Posted: November 15, 2008

Jay Himelstein's cruise isn't due to set sail until spring, but he's already feeling queasy.

The Jackson, N.J., accountant is one of possibly thousands of people whose vacations are in jeopardy now that the travel agency they booked with has gone out of business.

Cruise Value Center, which operated from East Brunswick, N.J., but had a national sales presence via the Internet, shut down on Monday.

One of its owners told a New Jersey Better Business Bureau official yesterday that the company's Web site - www.mycruisevalue.com - would be updated by Monday with instructions for those with trips booked with the company, which was a cruise and tour broker.

Dan Crevina of the Better Business Bureau declined to reveal which principal of Cruise Value he spoke with - Richard Smith or his brother, Ronald. Crevina said he was told Cruise Value had closed "due to lack of funds."

Cruise Value was sold last year to Travel Holding Entity of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., which merged the business with its own Cruises of Distinction. No one answered the telephone at either place yesterday.

Himelstein heard from Carnival Cruise Lines on Thursday that Cruise Value was no longer in business and that $115 in payments he had made to the company toward his $570 trip to Key West and Cozumel never made it to Carnival.

His next call was to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, as others have done.

Despite the aggravation, Himelstein says he still has his reservation for the trip: "I've never been on a cruise."

Contact staff writer Diane Mastrull at 215-854-2466 or dmastrull@phillynews.com.

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