A luxury cruise ship operator is underwater — and left passengers high and dry.
US Marshals seized a pair of popular cruise ships in the Bahamas Friday upon allegations that their Miami-based owner, Crystal Cruises, has failed to pay $4.6 million in fuel bills.
Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony had only crew members on board, according to Cruise Law News, while hundreds of passengers faced “bedlam” after being hurriedly booted off the ships before the vessels were seized.
“What a dreadful, disgraceful end to a so-called luxury #cruise line,” tweeted Cruise Law News publisher and maritime attorney Jim Walker.
A third ship, the Crystal Endeavor, the line’s newest and most luxurious vessel, was seized in Argentina, Cruise Law News reported Saturday afternoon.
The Serenity and Symphony dumped their passengers in Bimini last month before setting sail for the perceived safety of international waters. The passengers, some of whom expected to cruise on to California, were ferried to Fort Lauderdale and then left to fend for themselves.
“Five hours in, we get off the ferry only to find all the luggage dumped everywhere, colors and numbers NOT together, luggage falling down, no porters and NO CRYSTAL REPS. NONE,” Serenity passenger Allyn Jaffrey Shulman wrote on Facebook. “No one giving instructions. No one helping the older folks. It was a shameful sight.”
Fuel supplier Peninsula Petroleum Far East filed a complaint in Florida last month seeking an arrest warrant against the cruise ships under US admiralty law, The Daily Mail reported.
The ships unloaded their passengers and hit the high seas after US federal district court judge Darrin Gayles approved the warrant.
It remained unclear how US officials had the authority to seize the ships in the Bahamas, Cruise Law News reported.
Meanwhile, passengers aboard the Crystal Endeavor disembarked Friday as the ship was held in Ushuaia, Argentina, by the country’s maritime authority over some type of unpaid bill, Seatrade Cruise News reported.
The issue was resolved as of Saturday night, the site reported, and the Endeavor was allowed to set sail again en route to Uruguay.
‘We are unable to comment on pending legal matters at this time,” Crystal Cruises spokesman Vance Gulliksen told The Daily Mail. “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 per their normal schedules and we are meeting and exceeding all contractual obligations.”
Crystal Cruises is owned by Hong Kong-based conglomerate Genting Hong Kong.