‘Abducted by Luxurious Pirates.’ Cruise Diverts Passengers to Bahamas After U.S. Orders Seizure of Ship
(MIAMI) — A cruise ship that was supposed to dock in Miami has instead sailed to the Bahamas, after a U.S. judge granted an order to seize the vessel as part of a lawsuit over millions of dollars in unpaid fuel.
Crystal Symphony was spotted by cruise trackers currently docked at Bimini Island in Bahamian.
“We all feel we were abducted by luxurious pirates!” passenger Stephen Heard Fales posted on Facebook.
Some passengers took the ferry from Fort Lauderdale to Port Everglades on Sunday. The ferry ride was apparently “uncomfortable due to inclement weather,” according to a statement from a Crystal Cruises spokesperson. The company said guests were also taken to local airports, but wouldn’t comment on any “pending legal matters.”
There was no way to know how many people were on board. Some news outlets reported that 300 passengers had been taken aboard while others claimed there were 700. According to company websites, it can accommodate up to 848 passengers.
On Saturday, the ship was expected to reach Miami. A Miami federal judge issued an arrest warrant Thursday for the vessel. This is a maritime procedure where U.S. A Marshal board a ship and assumes control once it is in U.S. territorial waters.
People and entertainers shared on social media that they were shocked to learn about the legal situation. One guest posted a letter on Facebook from Crystal Cruises Management that said the change in itinerary was due to “non-technical operational issues.”
Peninsula Petroleum Far East filed the lawsuit against the vessel in Miami Federal Court under maritime procedures that allow actions against ships for unpaid debts. Crystal Symphony is accused of being chartered and managed by Crystal Cruises or Star Cruises. The two companies are also sued for contract breach for $4.6million in fuel.
Crystal Cruises made an announcement earlier in the week that they would be suspending all operations from April to May. Crystal Symphony is the only ship currently in cruising. It will be joined by two other vessels, both of which will end their journeys in Aruba on January 30 and in Argentina on February 4.
“Suspending operations will provide Crystal’s management team with an opportunity to evaluate the current state of business and examine various options moving forward,” the company said in a statement earlier this week.