There continues to be widespread reporting of the demise of Crystal Cruises following the arrest of the Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. As we mentioned on Saturday morning, late last Friday evening, Bahamian authorities seized the two Crystal cruise ships at general anchorage in Freeport, Bahamas.

Unfortunately, there has been erroneous press coverage here in the U.S. by major newspapers which have  reported that “U.S. Federal Marshals” seized the Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity in response to the seizure order entered by federal district court Judge Gayles in the Southern District of Florida.

To be clear, the U.S. Marshals have no jurisdiction outside of U.S. waters to seize a vessel. The arrest of the two Crystal cruise ships in question was accomplished by Bahamian officials in response to a judicial action filed in the Bahamas which led to the Bahamian Supreme Court issuing a writ of summons.

You can read the court filing in federal court here in Miami, as follows:

As explained in two articles from the Bahamian press, one by the Nassau Guardian titled Crystal Cruises ships seized by Bahamian authorities and a second by the Nassau Tribune titled “Humanitarian Crisis” Fear Over Cruise Ships’ Arrest, Acting Port Controller, Lieutenant Commander Berne Wright, received a writ of summons from the Supreme Court of the Bahamas to seize the two Crystal cruise ships. The writ was requested by the ship’s fuel supplier, Peninsula Petroleum Far East, which listed itemized 13 invoices for fuel to Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises ships, “totaling almost $3.4 million” between August 11, 2021 and January 17, 2022.

The Nassau Tribune article identifies the Bahamian lawyer, Stephen Turnquest, who obtained the Bahamian Supreme Court-approved arrest warrants for both the Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. Mr. Turnquest raised the issue of crew member welfare, stating “the last thing the Bahamas wants is for a humanitarian crisis to erupt” if no agreement is reached on who pays the bills while the vessels are detained.

The Bahamian lawyer rightfully called the outstanding fuel charges “chump change” for a conglomerate the size of Crystal Cruises’ parent company, Genting Hong Kong. He recommended that the lien for unpaid fuel charges “be settled quickly,” considering that funds will also be needed to provide the crew of both Crystal cruise ships with sufficient food until the dispute is resolved. “Fuel will also be required to operate the ships’ air conditioning, pumps and other systems in the interim, while garbage, sewerage and sludge disposal must also be addressed,” the lawyer added.

If matters are “left to fester,” Mr. Turnquest told the Nassau Tribune, the situation could “reach [a] crisis point very quickly and become a nightmarish situation.”

Crystal Cruises stated through a local spokesperson, Vance Gulliksen (the former spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Line) that it would not comment on pending legal matters. However, he claims that Crystal is taking good care of its crew members:

“The officers and crew on board are being well cared for and staying in single accommodations some of which are guest staterooms,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Mr. Gulliksen did not provide details to the Washington Post regarding the next steps will be for crew members on the ships.

However, a crew member on one of the Crystal’s ships disputes this rosy image. She informed us today:

“Crew still onboard. they have no idea if they will get money or when they will go home. But they are still working, housekeeping cleaning rooms and the rest packing furniture. Bank will be selling ships but not the brand. Future for Crystal is black.😔”

This crew member was one of the ship employees who promptly informed Friday night us that the Crystal ships had been seized in the Bahamas within hours of the vessel arrest. Earlier last week she informed us that:

“Crystal crew members are still waiting for wage payments for last month and they recently received nothing in their Brightwell payment accounts . . . Management says if you wanna go home early and if you didn’t complete your 3 months contract need to resign and buy your own flight ticket to go home.”

The Nassau Tribune article mentioned Crystal’s loss of “much goodwill” associated with evading seizure in the U.S. Reports of ill treatment of passengers are “provoking numerous complaints.”

If a so-called luxury cruise line like Crystal is going to mistreat its wealthy U.S. guests and disembark them in Bimini in order to evade a seizure order (over unpaid fuel bills) signed by a district court judge in Miami, does anyone realistically believe that the company will fully pay its crew members from India, Eastern Europe, and the Philippines when it finally repatriates them home?

Have a comment or question? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Crystal Cruises Instagram via New York Post

February 8, 2022 P.M. Update: