The drama surrounding Crystal Cruises continues. Both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity were reportedly “arrested” off Freeport in the Bahamas, according to several reputable cruise maritime sources.For example, Cruise Maritime Executive posted a crew member’s purported recording of the Crystal Symphony captain’s announcement to crew aboard about the “arrest.”
That recording said: “The ship has been placed under arrest by the local authorities over some unpaid bills, and as it bad as it sounds it’s actually quite a good thing that's happened. We’ve been told that this will not affect any personnel movement. So, the crew movement and crew sign-offs can still go as planned, and we are in process of preparing this. So, this is unfortunate news but this was actually quite expected.”
By way of background, in late January, Peninsula Petroleum Far East told a U.S. federal court that Crystal’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong, owes a $3.4 million fuel bill for both Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises. That resulted in a federal judge issuing a U.S. arrest warrant for the ship when it returns to the U.S.
To avoid that, Crystal Symphony, which was supposed to dock in Miami on January 22, instead sailed to Bimini in the Bahamas. Later, Crystal Serenity was refused entry by authorities in Aruba and also diverted to the Bahamas to avoid a U.S. port.
All passengers had disembarked both ships, prior to the arrest action. Most were ferried to Port Everglades. Some instead took air flights home, while others departed on a Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ charter flight to return to Aruba to board Seven Seas Mariner.
Following the reported “arrests” in the Bahamas, Seatrade Cruise News reported it’s not exactly clear what legal action was taken in that country to warrant the action.
On Sunday night, Crystal sent Travel Agent a statement, which did not shed much further light on the subject and did not specifically refer to the arrests. It read: “We are unable to comment on pending legal matters at this time. Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony’s voyages ended last month and there are no guests onboard.
“The officers and crew on board are being well cared for and staying in single accommodations some of which are guest staterooms. We are making sure they are comfortable and able to enjoy the various amenities on board. Crew members have been paid all wages due and we are meeting and exceeding all contractual obligations.
“Crystal has paused its operations for its ocean and expedition cruises through April 29, 2022 and for river cruises through May 2022, following recent developments of Genting Hong Kong, Crystal’s parent company.
Crystal Endeavor, the line’s new expedition ship, docked in Ushuaia, Argentina, on Thursday as scheduled at the end of a 19-night Antarctica voyage. Guests disembarked Friday and those with chartered air service flew to Miami via a previously scheduled flight, Crystal's statement said.
In addition, the statement said they "were provided with overnight hotel accommodations, as part of Crystal’s Antarctica cruise packages."
After guests departed, the ship was apparently held by authorities in Ushuaia for a time, but Crystal has confirmed to Travel Agent that the ship has “sailed” from the port. In fact, earlier today, CruiseMapper.com showed the ship’s position as it heads north in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Argentina. It's about a third of the way between Ushuaia and Montevideo, Uruguay.
A Crystal spokesman could not offer more detail about where the ship is headed. Stay tuned here for any further updates.