A cruise ship that was scheduled to make a stop in Florida instead sailed to the Bahamas, after a Miami judge issued a warrant allowing authorities to seize the vessel as part of a lawsuit over unpaid fuel.
The warrant comes days after the ship's company, Crystal Cruises, suspended all sailings following a bankruptcy filing by its owner, Genting Hong Kong.
The Crystal Symphony ship left Miami on Jan. 8 for a trip through the Bahamas and was due back in South Florida on Jan. 22. The ship is instead currently docked in Bimini, the closest Caribbean island to the U.S. coast.
"We were told that the reason we weren’t going to Miami was because there was a warrant out for the arrest," Elio Pace, an entertainer on the ship said. “I honestly thought it was a joke. I mean, it is like a movie, you can’t make that up."
Xivi Medina, a vendor aboard the Crystal Symphony, said that passengers were being transported via ferry on a two-hour ride back to Fort Lauderdale and then by shuttle to Miami on Sunday.
“We know that today’s transfer to Port Everglades via ferry was uncomfortable due to inclement weather,” Crystal Cruises said in a statement. "This end to the cruise was not the conclusion to our guests’ vacation we originally planned for."
Crystal Cruises says they can’t comment on pending legal matters.
Medina said Sunday she was still aboard the ship, in isolation. She said she needs to be isolated for 10 days before she is able to get off.
U.S. & World
News from around the country and around the globe
"Everything is OK," said Medina in a Spanish-language interview with NBC 6/Telemundo 51. "We’re just waiting to see what happens."
According to Medina, there are no passengers on board, and the only people left on the ship are crewmembers and vendors like herself.
"The company is going to take care of getting all the crewmembers back home," said Medina. "Obviously they’re gonna do it little by little, but the company is buying the tickets to get each of the crewmembers back to their respective countries."
Medina says the captain on board and all the other officials and crewmembers have been kind and have tried to ensure that passengers "don’t feel the effects of what is happening."
Pace was hired to work on the Crystal Symphony until Feb. 23. He says he's worried about the future of the crew who worked on the ship for years.
"They're really unhappy,” Pace said. “Their future is uncertain. This is their jobs. They've been on these ships for 10, 20 years.”
As for future Crystal Cruises, cruise experts recommend you don’t wait to hear from them and should try to seek a refund proactively through them or by calling your credit card company.