Cruise ship turns to Bahamas to avoid US warrant after 'unpaid $1.2m fuel bill'

23 January 2022, 09:38 | Updated: 23 January 2022, 09:52

The Crystal Symphony cruise ship is due to arrive in Bimini today.
The Crystal Symphony cruise ship is due to arrive in Bimini today. Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

A cruise ship with 700 passengers on board was forced to divert its from Miami to the Bahamas to avoid a US warrant over an alleged $1.2m unpaid fuel bill.

The Crystal Symphony was scheduled to return to Miami on Saturday after a two week cruise, but instead veered off course towards Bimini in the Bahamas.

There are thought to be 700 people on board the ship, which is expected to arrive in the Bahamas today.

It is alleged that parent company Genting's subsidiaries had reneged on a total of $4.6 million in fuel payments, with $1.2 million alone attributed to the Crystal Symphony.

Earlier this week US fuel supplier Peninsula Petroleum Far East filed a complaint in Florida seeking an arrest warrant for the ship under US admiralty law.

A judge approved the warrant on Friday, leading to the ship hurriedly diverting course, leaving passengers and crew scrambling to change their return flights.

Crystal Cruises, running the cruise, tweeted: "On Jan. 19 we announced a pause for Ocean and Expedition ships through April with River cruises through May 2022.

"Our call center is also paused.

"We sincerely apologise for this situation."

Jack Anderson, Crystal's president, said in a statement on the decision to cease all cruises: "This was an extremely difficult decision but a prudent one given the current business environment and recent developments with our parent company, Genting Hong Kong."

Elio Pace, on board the ship, posted a thread of events on Twitter, explaining he had boarded the ship the night before the captain notified passengers of the issues.

He said: "We were notified by the captain that the company that owns Crystal Cruises, Genting Hong Kong, had gone into liquidation to the tune of $4 billion."

He added he would "not believe" the story if he was not experiencing it himself.

According to his post, he was originally told the ship would return to Miami early, but once the ship faced being detained in the US, they were informed of the change in destination.

Mr Pace added: "As much as this is a logistical headache for me personally, I’m okay.

"However, the people I feel really bad for are the brilliant, beautiful and wonderful loyal staff and crew aboard this ship for whom the Crystal Symphony is their livelihood.

"I wish all of these friends of mine and this beautiful ship the very best for what lies ahead on the very uncertain horizon over the coming weeks and months."

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