An arrest warrant has been issued for Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Symphony due to unpaid fuel bills, according to case documents obtained by USA TODAY. The warrant allows authorities to take custody of the ship.
Now passengers have been stuck on board for another day as the ship changes course and avoids docking in Miami where it could have been met by a US marshal.
On Saturday, the ship sailed to Bimini after bypassing its scheduled landing. Originally, the ship was scheduled to return to Miami on Saturday, ending a round-trip cruise that began Jan. 8, according to Cruise Mapper. Crystal Cruises’ parent organization, the Genting Group, owns Resorts World Bimini, and the Crystal Symphony is a Bahamian-flagged ship.
Peninsula Petroleum Far East is seeking to recover just over $4.6 million from Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises. They are asking for more than $1.2 million from the Crystal Symphony ship alone.
Crystal Cruises suspended sailings earlier this week following the collapse of the cruise line’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong.
Passengers and crew, except for a reduced crew who will continue to man the ship, are due to disembark in Bimini on Sunday after the ship clears customs. Then they will be flown to Fort Lauderdale, Elio Pace told USA TODAY on Saturday. Pace is a UK based artist who works aboard Crystal Symphony.
“In three days, it all exploded out of nothing,” Pace said. “There was no warning.”
He said he had heard rumors that Genting was in financial trouble, but was not overly concerned when he boarded the ship on Tuesday, expecting to stay and perform until to February 23. Now, while considering what to do after leaving the ship tomorrow, he is hoping that he will be compensated for the time spent on board.
“I can’t tell you if I’m going to get paid for this week, let alone for the contracts that are supposed to run until February 23,” Pace said, noting the situation isn’t unique to him. “(If) I’m in this predicament, I can assure you that everyone on this ship – crew and staff – is in exactly the same situation.”
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Peninsula Petroleum Far East filed a complaint against the ship, Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises (HK) Limited, owned by Genting Group, and filed a complaint Wednesday with a request for an arrest warrant.
On Friday, Judge Darrin Gayles of the U.S. District Court in South Florida approved the warrant.
Attorney J. Stephen Simms of Simms Showers, who represents Peninsula Petroleum Far East, told Bloomberg that a U.S. Marshal and a court-appointed guard would be ready to stop the ship on Saturday if it arrived at the Port of Miami as expected – but he expected otherwise.
“The U.S. Marshal will be there with the arrest warrant if the ship shows up in Miami,” Simms told Bloomberg. “My good money is that he’s not landing in Miami, from what we’ve been told. Our client is determined to recover.
To address the more than $1.2 million in claims, Peninsula Petroleum Far East would like the vessel Crystal Symphony sold, according to the complaint.
USA TODAY contacted Crystal Cruises, Simms and Jonathan Scott Cooper of Blanck & Cooper, the attorneys representing Peninsula Petroleum Far East.
Plans change quickly on board but holidays are still here for some
John Dresner from the UK was at the Crystal Symphony on Saturday.
“Yesterday we were told that for (a) non-technical reason we had to end the Bahamas cruise rather than Miami, which meant we had to change our travel plans and arrangements,” he said. he said, noting that despite concerns they might not get paid, the ship’s crew have been excellent and continue to feed and entertain passengers.
Pace, the interpreter of Crystal Symphony from Crystal Cruises, echoed Dresner’s sentiment.
“I’m standing on the top deck of the ship, deck 12, looking at the pool in the hot tub,” Pace said. “And I see people lounging, passengers relaxing, reading books and going with the flow.”
Luckily for Dresner’s traveling party, the change of destination didn’t upset their plans too much.
“We had to change flights, which wasn’t too bad actually, and we’ll be late for home one day, which again isn’t the end of the world for us,” he said. he declared.
But this is not the case for everyone.
Pace posted on Twitter the chain of events since he boarded the ship on Tuesday, expressing his frustration.
After learning that the ship would stop sailing when it reached Miami, Pace wrote that he had made new arrangements for his voyage.
Then the ship’s plans changed, yet again.
“Yesterday, Friday, (the evening of my second show) after all arrangements had been made for flights, car hire etc. by all disembarking passengers and crew, we were informed by the Captain that the ship was no longer sailing to Miami,” he said. wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
And on Saturday night, when he had new arrangements, he wasn’t convinced things would go as planned.
“We’re supposed to leave tomorrow,” he said. But “we never know what will happen”.