By K. Oanh Ha (Bloomberg)
Two Crystal Cruises ships operating under a Genting Hong Kong unit have been seized in the Bahamas after a fuel supplier sought their arrest for $4.6 million in unpaid bills, according to a crew video and the Cruise Law News website.
The Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity were arrested late Friday night in Freeport in the Bahamas, according to Cruise Law News, a site run by Jim Walker, a maritime lawyer based in Florida who cited crew members on both ships for the information. The luxury cruise ships were anchored in Freeport Feb. 5, Bloomberg data show.
A Florida judge issued an arrest warrant for the Crystal Symphony last month after fuel supplier Peninsula Petroleum Far East Pte. filed a lawsuit against Crystal Cruises and sought the vessel’s arrest for $4.6 million in unpaid fuel bills dating back to 2017, according to J. Stephen Simms, the lead attorney representing the supplier, and court records. Simms said a U.S. marshal was ready to seize the ship if it docked in the U.S. The suit also detailed unpaid bills for fuel delivered to the Crystal Serenity.
Voyages for both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity ended last month and there are currently no guests onboard, Crystal Cruises said in statement to Bloomberg News. Crew members have been paid all wages and the company is meeting its contractual obligations to crew, it added. Crystal Cruises said it was unable to comment on pending legal matters.
The Bahamian port authority, Simms and the U.S. Department of Justice that oversees marshals couldn’t immediately be reached for comment outside of regular operating hours. Genting Hong Kong referred questions about Crystal Cruises to the U.S. operations.
Genting Hong Kong became the biggest cruise operator worldwide to seek court assistance to safeguard its assets during the pandemic when it filed with the Supreme Court of Bermuda Jan. 18 to appoint provisional liquidators after exhausting “all reasonable efforts” to negotiate with creditors and stakeholders. The company reported a record loss of $1.7 billion in May as the pandemic ravaged the cruising industry. Its German shipbuilding subsidiary, MV Werften, has become insolvent.
The Crystal Symphony diverted to the Bahamas instead of ending its cruise in Miami Jan. 22 and ferried passengers to Fort Lauderdale a day later. The Crystal Serenity also ended its voyage early and diverted to the Bahamas, according to passengers who posted on social media. It’s unclear which authority seized the ships in the Bahamas. It’s possible there was a separate action filed in the Bahamas involving the ships’ mortgage holders that triggered the seizure of the vessels, Walker said.
A video posted on Crew Center, a forum for cruise industry workers, purportedly captured the Crystal Symphony’s captain announcing to crew that the liner “has been placed under arrest by the local authorities over some unpaid bills.” Crew movements and sign-offs from the ship haven’t been impacted by the vessel’s detainment, according to the announcement.
Meanwhile, Dream Cruises Holding Ltd., an indirect non-wholly owned unit of Genting Hong Kong, will continue to operate its fleet in the region, it said in a statement over the weekend. New Dream Cruises bookings have been suspended until further notice, while Hong Kong sailings of the Genting Dream cruise liner have been canceled through Feb. 16 due to the territory’s strict social distancing regulations currently in place, the company said.
Dream Cruises also filed a winding-up petition Jan. 27 to the Bermuda Court and is seeking to appoint the same provisional liquidators named in Genting Hong Kong’s application. The company reiterated in a statement to Blooomberg News that the appointments of joint provisional liquidators over Genting Hong Kong and Dream Cruises “are not to liquidate the companies but to identify potential remediation plans and to facilitate the restructuring of the group.”
By K. Oanh Ha with assistance from Jonathan Levin.© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.