This week, hundreds of passengers aboard the Crystal Symphony, a luxury cruise ship operated by Crystal Cruises, got more time cruising than they counted on. While this may sound like a stroke of good luck at sea, it turned out to be anything but. CNN Business reported that the Crystal Symphony changed course suddenly on Saturday from its planned port in Miami, Florida, and headed to Bimini in the Bahamas. This change to the ship’s course came after a US judge issued an arrest warrant against the ship. The Crystal Symphony docked in Bimini and kept passengers on board an extra day according to USA Today. Had the ship landed in Miami, it would have been seized by authorities. A statement shared with USA Today by spokesperson Vance Gulliksen said that passengers were provided with overnight accommodations and well-cared for onboard the ship.
The suit was brought against Crystal Cruises by Peninsula Petroleum Far East on Wednesday for unpaid fuel bills totaling more than 4.2 million dollars. 1.2 million of this amount was for the Crystal Symphony specifically. The warrant by the US judge was issued on Thursday ahead of the ship’s planned arrival to Miami on Saturday. Also on Wednesday, the same day the lawsuit against the company was filed, the cruise line announced it was suspending operations for all of its ocean voyages at least through late April. This announcement came alongside a statement from the company saying it would take the opportunity to evaluate the current state of business and consider its options moving forward.
While the luxury liner holds close to 850 guests, the actual number of guests onboard during this debacle is unknown. Crystal Cruises did report that around 300 passengers were moved from the luxury ship in Bimini, Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale, Florida by ferry on Sunday. This is inarguably much less luxurious than what the passengers signed up for. A spokesperson reported that inclement weather made the already uncomfortable ferry ride even more brutal. The cruise line replied by issuing a statement saying, “This end to the cruise was not the conclusion to our guests’ vacation we originally planned for.” It’s fair to assume that this feeling is more than mutual. While the passengers were transported off the ship, the ship itself remains docked in the Bahamas.
Crystal Cruises suspended all future operations, and their parent company, Genting Hong Kong, is entering liquidation. The pandemic has rendered the cruise business nearly obsolete, and many companies have found themselves underwater. The two cruises currently in operation by Crystal Cruises will complete their sails to Aruba and Argentina. All guests with future trips booked will receive full refunds. While likely disappointing, this will leave them with a little extra cash for alternate ways to travel. Ways that hopefully rely a little bit less on fuel.
Many people are starting to get back to traveling after the last few years. That said, if the saga of the Crystal Symphony is any indication, it appears that cruises might not be the best way to go about it.