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Passenger describes cruise ship reroute after US judge orders seizure

Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 5:25 PM CST
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QUAD CITIES (KWQC) - A cruise ship that was supposed to dock in Miami instead sailed to the Bahamas, after a U.S. judge granted an order to seize the vessel as part of a lawsuit over $4 million in unpaid fuel.

One passenger, who grew up in Bettendorf, and her husband were on board the Crystal Symphony cruise ship celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary. She says everything seemed normal until the captain made an unexpected announcement last Friday.

“He came on and said there’s been a change of plans and we are not going to Miami now, we are going to go to Bimini, Bahamas. We were like okay, and he said this was for a non-technical reason,” said Pell Ann Wardrop.

The Crystal Symphony was supposed to end the two-week cruise in the Caribbean by docking in Miami. A U.S. judge ordered an arrest warrant for the ship and it would be impounded if it docked in the U.S.

“It was interesting to be running from the law on a cruise ship, but that’s kind of what we were doing,” said Wardrop.

Passengers were taken to the Bahamas on the cruise ship where they loaded a ferry boat that took them to Fort Lauderdale.

“It was really rough seas. Pretty much everybody was clutching a wastebasket before we were gone very long. All wastebaskets and bathroom stalls were occupied. I went outside because it was horrible inside. The seas were so rough that you couldn’t walk. I fell against this and fell against that just going outside,” Wardrop said.

Wardrop says passengers were bussed to airports and flew home. The couple says it was an inconvenience for them, but they worry more about the crew who may lose their jobs.

“They were under so much stress. Some of the other attendants were crying and everybody was scared and didn’t know what was going on. They weren’t being told anything or what was happening but continued to provide exemplary service. For us, it was a minor inconvenience, but for the staff, it’s their life,” Wardrop said.

Crystal’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong, has filed for bankruptcy. Crystal cruises issued a statement on Wednesday stating:

“Crystal announced today that it has suspended operations for its Ocean and Expedition ships through April 29, 2022, with River cruises suspended through the end of May 2022. Suspending operations will provide Crystal’s management team with an opportunity to evaluate the current state of business and examine various options moving forward. Crystal’s three ships currently in operation – Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony sailing in the Caribbean and Crystal Endeavor in Antarctica – will complete their current voyages. Crystal Symphony’s current voyage ends in Miami on January 22, Crystal Serenity in Aruba on January 30, and Crystal Endeavor in Ushuaia, Argentina, on February 4. “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,” said Jack Anderson, Crystal’s president. “Crystal has been synonymous with luxury cruising for more than 30 years and we look forward to welcoming back our valued guests when we resume operations. We wish to thank our guests and travel advisors for their incredible support during these ongoing challenging times.” Guests and their travel partners are currently being notified. Crystal will provide a full refund of cruise fare paid, which will be processed automatically to the original form of payment so there is no further action on the guest’s part. If the cruise was paid via a Future Cruise Payment or Credit, the full value will be returned to their Crystal Society profile account.”

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