Cruise ship changes course after US judge orders seizure
A cruise ship that was due to dock in Miami has instead sailed to the Bahamas, after a US judge issued an order for the vessel to be seized in a lawsuit over more than $4 million in unpaid fuel.
Cruise trackers show Crystal Symphony is currently docked on the Bahamian island of Bimini.
“We all feel like we’ve been kidnapped by fancy pirates!” passenger Stephen Heard Fales posted on Facebook.
Some passengers were taken by ferry to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday. The ferry ride was apparently “uncomfortable due to inclement weather”, according to a statement from a spokesperson for Crystal Cruises. The company said the guests were also taken to local airports, but would not comment on the lawsuit.
The number of passengers on board was not immediately clear, with one outlet reporting 300 and another 700. According to the company’s website, the ship can carry up to 848 passengers.
The ship was scheduled to arrive in Miami on Saturday. But a federal judge on Thursday issued a warrant for the ship’s arrest, a maritime practice where a U.S. Marshal boards a ship and takes charge of it once it enters U.S. waters.
Passengers and performers said on social media that they were surprised to learn of the court case. A guest posted a letter on Facebook from Crystal Cruises Management stating that the itinerary change was due to “non-technical operational issues”.
Elio Pace, a musician who has toured with the ship since 2013, said around 30 to 50 crew members disembarked because their contracts had ended. Another 400 crew members do not know when they will leave or if they will remain employed.
“It’s a human story. It’s about people and their jobs,” Pace told The Associated Press (AP).
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Miami by Peninsula Petroleum Far East against the ship in a maritime proceeding that allows actions against the ships for unpaid debts. The lawsuit says Crystal Symphony was chartered or managed by Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises, who are both being sued for breach of contract for allegedly owing $4.6 million in fuel.
Crystal Cruises announced earlier this week that it was suspending operations until the end of April. Besides Crystal Symphony, he has two other ships currently cruising, which end their voyages on January 30 in Aruba and February 4 in Argentina.
“The suspension of operations will provide Crystal’s management team with an opportunity to assess the current state of affairs and consider various options moving forward,” the company said in a statement earlier this year. week.