Fugitive Cruise Ships ‘Wanted’ For Unpaid US Fuel Bills Worth ‘Millions Of Dollars’ Seized In Bahamas

The authorities seized two ships owned and operated by Crystal Cruises in the Bahamas because of US warrants for unpaid fuel bills.

The Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity had diverted to the Bahamas to avoid being served with the American warrants. Authorities boarded both ships near Freeport late Friday to execute the warrants issued for unpaid fuel charges of at least $4.6 million.

No passengers were aboard either ship when they were seized. Crew members on the ships were escorted ashore by law enforcement officers and released.

The Crystal Serenity was scheduled to begin an expedition of over three months when it left Miami on January 17. Two days later, the company announced it was suspending operations until April, and the ship immediately canceled several port calls.

When the expedition was canceled, passengers were told they would disembark the ship in Aruba. When officials refused to allow the ship to dock, it diverted to Bimini. The company ferried the passengers to Fort Lauderdale and provided them hotel rooms last Monday evening.

The Crystal Symphony had been scheduled to return to port in Miami on January 22 but diverted to Bimini. Its passengers were also sent by ferry to Fort Lauderdale to be offloaded.

A US federal court judge issued the warrant for the seizure of the Crystal Symphony on January 20. The order was published in a pending lawsuit and directed US Marshals to board the vessel and control it when it approached the US coast.

Current reporting does not clarify how US Marshals worked with Bahamas officials to board and commandeer the two ships in Bahamas waters.

When the cruise company announced the suspension of active operations, it said that it was being done to allow its management an “opportunity to evaluate the current state of the business” and evaluate options for going forward.

Genting Hong Kong is the cruise line’s parent company and has been struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A shipyard owned by the company filed for bankruptcy protection in Germany last month.