Miami, FL

A Cruise Ship Bound for Miami Diverts to the Bahamas To Avoid Being Seized – The Cruise Line Hasn’t Paid Its Fuel Bills

Toby Hazlewood

They owe $4.6 million for fuel
Cruise ship sailing into the sunsetPhoto by Alonso Reyes on Unsplash

When money is tight the unpaid bills can quickly pile up. But most realize that it's impossible to run from their debts in the long term. However, it would seem that the operators of the cruise ship Crystal Symphony are doing exactly that.

The ship was bound for Miami and due to dock on January 22, but instead it diverted to the island of Bimini in the Bahamas to avoid being seized by US Marshals after docking. A US judge had issued an order to seize the cruise ship as part of a lawsuit against its owners for unpaid fuel bills of $4.6 million owed to Peninsula Petroleum Far East.

Sailing suspended

The ship which is owned and operated by Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises can carry 848 passengers - there are conflicting reports of how many hundreds of paying customers were on board. Passengers were subsequently transported by ferry to South Florida on January 23 - not quite the style that they may have expected to arrive in!

Meanwhile, Crystal Cruises have announced suspension of further sailings until late April, while it attempts to unravel the financial mess that it finds itself in. Presumably the company's management felt it would be better to avoid having their ship seized and so diverted it to another country. Unfortunately, this isn't an option for many Americans struggling to pay their debts.

Challenging times in the cruise industry

The last couple of years have been challenging for many businesses, particularly in the cruise industry.

Early in the pandemic when there were outbreaks of cases among passengers on the cruise ship Diamond Princess in February 2020, passengers were forced to quarantine offshore. Over 700 passengers onboard were infected with the virus - its spread enabled by the close concentration of passengers within the confines of the ship.

Many months of shutdowns followed. When cruise lines like Royal Caribbean restored their services from Florida and Texas in June last year, it was with unpopular controlling measures in place that included charging for tests and restricting the on-board events and restaurants that unvaccinated guests could attend.

The knock-on effects on the finances of some cruise lines like Crystal Cruises, seems significant. They cannot even afford to pay for the fuel required to power their ships. Whether it's right that they should avoid legal measures to obtain payback for those they owe money to, is another matter.

What do you think about Crystal Cruises avoiding its debts by diverting its ship from Miami? Have you suffered financial hardship as a result of the pandemic and its knock-on effects? Let me know in the comments section below.

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