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Luxury Cruise Liner ‘Flees Like A Pirate Ship’ To Avoid $4.6m Arrest Warrant

by : Hannah Smith on :
Luxury Cruise Liner ‘Flees Like A Pirate Ship’ To Avoid $4.6m Arrest Warrant
Luxury Cruise Liner ‘Flees Like A Pirate Ship’ To Avoid $4.6m Arrest Warrant (Alamy/@ElioPaceMusician/Facebook)

Passengers on board a luxury cruise ship have revealed the moment it fled from US waters after it was issued with an arrest warrant over unpaid fuel bills.

The Crystal Symphony was carrying around 300 passengers back from a two-week cruise in the Caribbean when it abruptly changed course, after a US judge granted an arrest warrant for the ship over a $1.2 million fuel bill.

The passengers and crew had been expecting to arrive in Florida, but were informed in an announcement that they would instead be disembarking in the Bahamas, much to their disbelief.

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The Crystal Symphony cruise ship (Alamy)
The Crystal Symphony cruise ship (Alamy)

Speaking to The Independent, musician Elio Pace said he'd just finished a rehearsal on board the ship when passengers were informed of the change of plans, which came about after the ship's parent company, Genting Hong Kong, filed for liquidation.

'There was literally eight seconds of silence, nobody could say anything. It was almost laughable... we literally just said 'are you kidding?' No one could believe that this ship was having to divert away from US waters like a pirate ship away so it didn’t get arrested,' he said.

The warrant was issued by a judge under admiralty law as part of a claim for $4.6 million in unpaid debts against Genting-owned Florida-based cruise line Crystal Cruises.

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In a Facebook post on Saturday, January 22, Pace revealed his ordeal, which began just one day after he joined the ship from Dominica, saying of the situation, 'I wouldn’t believe it unless I was right here experiencing this surreal episode myself!'

Despite the unexpected set back, he said that passengers had been calm about the experience, with many rushing to change flights and hotel bookings after being told they'd instead be taken back to Fort Lauderdale on a 3-hour ferry from the Bahamas.

Cruise ship flees authorities (Alamy)
Cruise ship flees authorities (Alamy)

'There’s no panic, there’s no tantrums, they’re just getting on with it,' he said.

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Pace added that while he'd lost out on payment for his work, he mainly felt for the ship's permanent crew, some of whom had spent 25 years working for the cruise line.

'All these brilliant beautiful people, they’re really down in the dumps and very despondent and very uncertain about what next or even if they’ll get paid. It’s a bit brutal,' he said.

'This end to the cruise was not the conclusion to our guests’ vacation we originally planned for,' Crystal Cruises said in a statement to the New York Times.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah is a London-based journalist covering news and features for UNILAD. She's especially interested in social and political activism and culture.

Topics: News, US News