The uncertainty about Crystal Cruises’ future continues to unfold, and both Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony have now been arrested in Freeport, Bahamas. With little official communication from the cruise line, however, much of the detail about this confusing situation is being relayed from crew members who remain on board the ships at this time.
All Three Crystal Cruise Ships Arrested
Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, both of which debarked their passengers in Bimini in recent days, were arrested in the waters off Freeport, Bahamas in the evening hours of February 4, 2022. Shortly after authorities boarded Crystal Symphony, the ship’s captain made the following announcement:
“The ship has been placed under arrest by the local authorities over some unpaid bills, and as bad as it sounds it’s actually quite a good thing to happen. We’ve been told that this will not affect any personnel movement. So the crew movement and the crew sign offs will go as planned, and we are in process of preparing this. So some unfortunate news but it was actually quite expected.”
Federal U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles had granted the arrest order for Crystal Symphony on January 20, 2022, shortly after the ship’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong, filed for bankruptcy. At that time, the ship diverted from its planned debarkation in Miami and instead debarked passengers in Bimini.
Part of the debts detailed in the original Crystal Symphony arrest order as well as the bankruptcy filing amount to $4.6 million in unpaid fuel invoices.
In light of the ongoing difficulties for the cruise line, Crystal Serenity was denied entry into Aruba a few days later, and that ship also headed to Bimini to debark its passengers on January 31.
The third ship in the fleet, Crystal Endeavor, finished its Antarctica itinerary on February 4, and has now been placed under arrest in Ushuaia, Argentina, according to Cruise Law News. Because legal offices are closed over the weekend, that ship is temporarily in limbo until Monday, according to a social media post from a passenger on board.
While there are no passengers remaining aboard Crystal Symphony or Crystal Serenity, crew members are still aboard and waiting for arrangements to return home. There is some uncertainty about where crew members will be able to debark, and how travel arrangements can be made for the internationally diverse crews to return to their home countries.
When fully staffed, Crystal Symphony would have 545 crew members aboard, while the larger Crystal Serenity would have 655 crew members.
No details about how many crew members currently aboard either ship have been released, but it can be challenging to make travel arrangements for several hundred crew members at once.
Another difficulty can be when different ports and transit countries may have different COVID-19 testing and vaccination protocols in place. Crew members would need to meet those requirements before they are permitted to travel home.
On board the ships, crew members have reached out through social media to report that accommodations are comfortable and January crew salaries are being processed. What is most uncertain, however, is where the ships may travel for crew to debark, though all crew members are expected to be heading home within a week, other than a skeleton crew to operate the vessels.
Ships to Be Sold?
To arrest a cruise ship doesn’t mean handcuffs and jail cells, but all three Crystal vessels are on temporary hold as their legal status is settled. This can mean the unpaid fuel bills must be settled, which can be done if a ship is sold.
A sale listing for a 1995 cruise ship has appeared on the website Yacht World, a database brokers use to sell all types of luxury vessels. The listing in question details the cruise ship as having a guest capacity of 960 passengers, which is the double-occupancy capacity of Crystal Symphony.
Other stats in the listing also correlate with the published stats of Crystal Symphony, and the photos with the listing are of the cruise ship. The ship’s name, however, is not included in the listing, only stock numbers.
No sales price is listed, but the broker managing the sale has additional listings for Carnival ships, including Carnival Ecstasy, as well as recognizable ships from other popular cruise lines.