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Cruise ship diverted to Bahamas after US allowed to seize vessel with over $4 million in unpaid fuel bill |  world news

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Cruise ship diverted to Bahamas after US allowed to seize vessel with over $4 million in unpaid fuel bill | world news

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A cruise ship carrying hundreds of passengers was due to dock in Miami on Saturday, but instead sailed to the Bahamas to avoid being seized by US authorities.

Crystal Symphony changed course after a federal judge in Florida issued a warrant for the vessel’s arrest on Thursday in a $4.6m (£3.3m) lawsuit from unpaid fuel.

The order would allow a U.S. Marshal to take charge of the ship once it enters the country’s waters.

Picture:
Elio Pace said he thought it was a joke. Photo: AP

Crystal Cruises or Star Cruises, who are responsible for the liner, are being sued by Peninsula Petroleum Far East for breach of contract over unpaid debts.

Since Monday morning, the ship has remained moored in the Bahamas island of Bimini.

Passengers and staff members posted on social media to say they were surprised to learn of the court case.

A guest posted a letter on Facebook from Crystal Cruises Management stating that the itinerary change was made for “non-technical operational issues”.

“We all feel like we’ve been kidnapped by fancy pirates!” passenger Stephen Heard Fales posted on Facebook.

Elio Pace, a musician who has toured with the ship since 2013, said he thought, “Are you kidding me? That’s a joke, right?”

He was among passengers who were taken by ferry to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday.

“It’s been two hours that I never want to relive again,” he said, adding, “I’ve never, ever felt sick on a ship before.

“But you know those horror videos you find online when they show the ship… going from side to side, and it almost looks like it’s going to rock? That was it.”

A spokesperson for Crystal Cruises said the ride was “uncomfortable due to bad weather”.

Guests were also whisked away to local airports, the company said, declining to comment on the lawsuit.

The ship can carry up to 848 passengers, but the exact number of guests is unknown, with reports suggesting 300 to 700 guests were on board.

Mr Pace estimates that between 30 and 50 crew members landed because their contracts ended.

He said the other crew members did not know when they would leave the ship or if they would lose their jobs.

“It’s a human story,” he said. “It’s about people and their jobs, their dedication and their loyalty to a company. There are people on this ship who have been there for 15, 20, 25 years.”

Earlier this week, Crystal Cruises announced it was suspending operations until the end of April.

He has two other ships at sea, which will end their voyages on January 30 in Aruba and February 4 in Argentina.

“The suspension of operations will provide Crystal’s management team with an opportunity to assess the current state of affairs and consider various options moving forward,” the company said in a statement.

Cruise ship diverted to Bahamas after US allowed to seize vessel with over $4 million in unpaid fuel bill | world news

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