By Adriana Gomez Licon
Bahamian authorities say a cruise ship that was set to dock in Miami this weekend remained in the Bahamas on Monday, avoiding a U.S. judge’s order to seize the vessel.
Crystal Cruises had announced last week that it was suspending operations through late April, canceling or cutting short itineraries for the Crystal Symphony and two other ships.
Sgt. Kareem Woods with the Royal Bahamas Police Force said the Crystal Symphony is still docked in Bimini and that authorities currently do not have plans to seize the vessel.
“It will be allowed to stay in Bimini,” he said, adding that he did not know if any staff was aboard the ship.
The arrest warrant for the ship is part of a lawsuit over $4.6 million in what the suit said is unpaid fuel. The ship was scheduled to arrive in Miami on Saturday. But a federal judge issued the warrant for the ship Thursday, a maritime practice in which a U.S. Marshal boards a vessel and takes charge of it once it enters U.S. waters.
Cruise trackers show Crystal Symphony currently docked in the Bahamian island of Bimini.
The ship's passengers were taken by ferry to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday. It is not clear how many were traveling, but passengers said there were about 300 of them.
A musician who has toured on and off the ship said that between 30 and 50 crew members disembarked because their contracts had ended, while another 400 crew members didn’t know when they would get off.
Passengers on another Crystal Cruises ship that departed Miami a week ago said the ship has had to cancel port calls at last minute, but have not been told the reason.
The Crystal Serenity, now docked in Costa Rica, will stop cruising in Aruba on Jan. 30, cutting short a three-and-a-half month expedition for about 200 passengers.
Travelers were told of the change only two days after leaving Miami, and some said it would have been better to return to South Florida instead of ending unexpectedly in South America.
“People are very upset, shocked and distraught because Aruba is not very convenient,” said Barry Shulman, 75, a passenger from Las Vegas on the long expedition originally set to return in late May to California. “It’s an absolute mess.”
Shulman said a few days ago after departing from Cozumel that the ship's captain made an announcement that there was an order to impound the ship in Cozumel.
“He said ‘I am glad we got out of Cozumel before they had a chance to arrest us,'” said Shulman. “My eyebrows went up. If it was a joke, it was pretty inappropriate.”
Crystal Cruises did not responded to questions about the Crystal Serenity.
Associated Press writer Danica Coto contributed to this report from San Juan, Puerto Rico.