A cruise ship singer described the dramatic change of course after his ship’s parent company collapsed while 700 passengers were in the middle of a trip.
The Crystal Symphony abruptly changed course on Sunday, in an apparent attempt to avoid an arrest warrant and imminent seizure if it continued to the US.
The vessel canceled a stop in Miami and instead headed to Bimini in the Bahamas, stranding crew and passengers alike, The Daily Mail reported.
The ship, which is part of the Crystal Cruises line, owes $1.2 million in fuel bills and would be seized if it sailed to Miami, Bloomberg reported. The sudden diversion left passengers scrambling to reorganize their trips.
According to onboard musician Elio Pace, those on board were stunned into silence at the announcement.
“There was literally eight seconds of silence” when they were told, he told UK newspaper The Independent.
“Nobody could say anything. It was almost laughable,” he added. “We literally just said ‘are you kidding?'”
Pace, who performs a Billy Joel tribute show, told Insider late Sunday that he had made his way to Fort Lauderdale by ferry, and was planning on getting to Miami under his own steam.
According to a Facebook, post Pace wrote on Saturday, it was a colossal change of plan. He described boarding on January 18 and looking forward to around a month of performing at sea.
Instead, the day after boarding, he was told that Crystal Cruises’ parent company Genting Hong Kong had gone into provisional liquidation.
“We were told that we would all need to disembark the ship and make our way home,” he wrote.
Crystal Cruises suspended operations the same day, according to shipping news site TradeWinds. The company’s Miami-based fuel supplier Peninsula Petroleum secured an arrest order ahead of its scheduled arrival, the outlet reported.
At first, Pace said they were told the ship would cease sailing once it reached Miami on Saturday. But then the plan changed again, and the ship was routed to Bimini, he wrote.
Another performer on board, Steven Heard Fales, wrote on Facebook: “We all feel we were abducted by luxurious pirates!”
While Pace said the upheaval won’t affect him too much personally, he said he felt bad for the “brilliant, beautiful and wonderful loyal staff and crew” whose livelihoods depend on the ship.
Fales told The New York Times: “They’re all just heartbroken, and it was just devastating.”
Genting Hong Kong is one of the numerous cruise operators to have struggled in the COVID-19 pandemic. It posted a record $1.7 billion loss in May 2021, according to Bloomberg.
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