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Two cruise ships seized in Bahamas over unpaid fuel bills

The ocean liners reportedly changed course to avoid their planned U.S. destination of Miami; customers had to disembark in Bimini.
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Bahamian authorities arrested two cruise ships from the Hong Kong-based Crystal Cruises, the Crystal Symphony and the Crystal Serenity, after a U.S. court ordered their seizure last month over millions of dollars in unpaid fuel bills, according to cruise industry publications.

After they changed course from Miami to avoid the U.S. judge’s order, the ships sailed to the Bahamas and allowed passengers to disembark in Bimini, according to Cruise Law News, which reported the ships’ arrests on Friday in waters near Freeport.

Only crew members were aboard during the seizures.

In a statement, Crystal Cruises said it is unable to comment on pending legal matters.

"Following recent developments of Genting Hong Kong, Crystal’s parent company, Crystal has paused its operations for its Ocean and Expedition Cruises through April 29, 2022, and for River cruises through May 2022," the company said.

"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 all wages due and we are meeting and exceeding all contractual obligations," the cruise company wrote.

A recording posted on Twitter allegedly shows the captain of the Crystal Symphony announcing that the ship was being seized in the Bahamas by “local authorities," which they further described as "quite expected."

In a statement, the U.S. Marshals Service, whose agents would have seized the ship if it had sailed to Miami, said it had no role or knowledge of the seizure of the two ships in the Bahamas.

Another trade publication reported that a third Crystal ship, the Crystal Endeavor, was also being held at Ushuaia, in southernmost Argentina's Tierra del Fuego province; Seatrade Cruise News reported last week that its passengers disembarked without incident after an Antarctic cruise, and its current status is unclear.

In an emailed statement, Crystal Cruises said the Endeavor "docked in Ushuaia Thursday as scheduled following a 19-night Antarctica voyage." 

"Guests disembarked Friday and those with chartered air service flew to Miami via a previously scheduled flight and were provided with overnight hotel accommodations, all part of Crystal’s Antarctica cruise packages."