Cruise ship flees to Bahamas in bid to avoid court seizure
Seven hundred passengers had an unexpected end to their 14-day Caribbean voyage over the weekend, when their cruise ship refused to return to the US following a court order in the wake of its parent company going into liquidation.
The Crystal Symphony cruise liner veered off course on Saturday, heading for the Bahamian island of Bimini instead of returning to Miami, after a US judge ordered its seizure due to $4.6 million in unpaid fuel bills.
The judge’s ruling came after a lawsuit was filed in a Miami court by Peninsula Petroleum Far East seeking action against the vessel as compensation for unpaid debts. Crystal Symphony’s parent company, Crystal Cruises, announced earlier last week that it had suspended operations and was entering liquidation.
The lawsuit claims that Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises, which chartered and managed the vessel, are in breach of contract with Peninsula Petroleum Far East, owing the company $4.6 million in unpaid fuel bills.
While the company has not addressed the lawsuit, guests on Crystal Symphony were reportedly taken by ferry to Fort Lauderdale or local airports after the unscheduled diversion.
“Suspending operations will provide Crystal’s management team with an opportunity to evaluate the current state of business and examine various options moving forward,” Crystal Cruises said in a statement prior to starting the liquidation process.
Crystal Cruises currently has two other vessels in the middle of voyages, with one set to end its trip in Aruba on January 30 and another in Argentina on February 4.