Passengers on a two-week cruise that started in Miami on Jan. 8 didn't get the relaxing vacation they expected. Thanks to over $1.2 million in unpaid fuel bills, the Crystal Symphony cruise ship was delayed and rerouted over the weekend. The change upended customers’ travel plans and left cruise staff uncertain of their employment future.
Crystal Symphony is one of Genting Hong Kong’s fleet of businesses that includes Star Cruises and Dream Cruises in the Asia region, the Resorts World theme park in Manila, and Crystal Cruises. Crystal Cruises offers trips departing from Miami, Barcelona, and Antarctica. Recently, Genting filed to liquidate its business, CNBC reported.
The Genting Group is Crystal Symphony’s parent organization.
The Genting Group includes Genting Hong Kong, Genting Malaysia, and Genting Singapore. Genting Hong Kong has been in the midst of legal proceedings involving a German regional government.
Genting Hong Kong filed for the ability to draw down $88 million in backstop funding. However, Genting’s filing said that the German federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern rejected its application to access the $88 million.
Malaysian tycoon Lim Kok Thay founded the company in 1993 that would become Genting Hong Kong. The cruise company provided diversification away from the Malaysian casino resort run by the Genting Group.
The company has suffered from cruise cancellations due to COVID-19 and widening losses. Lim has resigned as chairman and CEO of Genting Hong Kong. His ownership consisted of a 76 percent stake in Genting Hong Kong. He has stepped down as CEO, effective Jan. 21.
What happened to the Crystal Symphony ship?
Crystal Symphony, one of Genting Hong Kong’s cruise ships, set sail on Jan. 8 from Miami and was due to return to Miami on Jan. 22. However, due to unpaid fuel bills ($1.2 billion from this ship alone), Peninsula Petroleum Far East filed a lawsuit against the ship, Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises (HK) Limited.
Judge Darrin Gayles, a U.S. federal judge of the District Court in Southern Florida, approved the arrest warrant and ordered the seizure of Crystal Symphony.
Attorney J. Stephen Simms, who was representing Peninsula Petroleum Far East, told Bloomberg that although he expected the ship to avoid docking in Miami, it would be ready to arrest the ship there if it arrived as planned.
According to The New York Times, the ship was rerouted to Bimini in the Bahamas in an attempt to avoid arrest by federal authorities in Miami. Passengers were cared for on the ship for an extra day and then ferried to Ft. Lauderdale’s Port Everglades on Jan. 23.
Peninsula Petroleum Far East requests that the Crystal Symphony be sold to help pay the $1.2 million in unpaid claims. The total owed between Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises is reportedly $4.6 million.
Crystal Cruises is also suspending two other ships’ voyages through April 29. Jack Anderson, the president of Crystal Cruises, said, “This was an extremely difficult decision but a prudent one given the current business environment and recent developments with our parent company, Genting Hong Kong.”