Crystal Cruises is know for its ultra luxury service, food and amenities.  So it was an unlikely end to a cruise on the Crystal Symphony when it had to change course – apparently to outrun an arrest warrant because it cannot pay its fuel bills.

Steven Heard Fales, a playwright and actor, posted on Facebook, “We all feel we were abducted by luxurious pirates!”

Singapore bunker supplier Peninsula Petroleum got an order in Miami to arrest the Crystal Cruises ship over unpaid fuel bills amounting to US$3.5 million.

But instead of landing in America, the ship diverted to Bimini, in the Bahamas, effectively to avoid arrest.

Reported the New York Times: Elio Pace, an entertainer contracted to perform on the Symphony, told the Daily Mail that “there’s no panic, there’s no tantrums going on.”


Raja at work
Raja at work

Sadly, it appears the dreams of an Asian cruise line spanning the world had become the biggest cruise casualty of COVID.

Cruise Passenger reported last week on how Genting Hong Kong, the Asian company that owns Crystal Cruises, Star Cruises and Dream Cruises, had filed a Wind Up petition  in the Supreme Court of Bermuda saying the company would run out of cash by the end of January.

But as our Singapore reporter Rebecca Rachel Wong writes,  its chair, CEO and executive director – Malaysian billionaire Lim Kok Thay – has resigned.

The group previously announced its intentions to continue the Dream Cruises brand, with the line telling Cruise Passenger that it is identifying new opportunities for growth in Southeast Asia in 2022. However, it has suspended new bookings for sailings on World Dream since Saturday morning, and its booking engine has been taken offline.

World Dream had been sailing on cruises-to-nowhere from Singapore since November 2020, as part of the country’s CruiseSafe pilot programme.

The line shared that the suspension will continue until 4 February 4 2021, and that it was implemented to “protect the interests of Dream Cruises’ guests”. At present, booked guests are still able to proceed with cruises.

According to a report by Goody Feed, Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) Director for Cruises, Ms Annie Chang, mentioned that she is aware of the suspension and is keeping a close eye on developments. She added that “STB is confident in the recovery of the cruise industry and will continue its effort to anchor more cruise ships in Singapore”.

In Taiwan, local travel agencies have received notifications that Explorer’s Dream’s cruises from 24 January 2022 have been cancelled, as per a report by Central News Agency. The line cited “changes in operations” as the reason for its cancellation. Explorer Dream had been operating on and off in the waters around Taiwan during the pandemic. The ship resumed sailings on 31 December 2021, following a 6-month hiatus as a result of local Covid restrictions.

Passengers on affected sailings will be granted a full refund, and no future cruises are available for booking.

With regard to when Explorer Dream would resume operations, Genting Cruise Lines’ public relations company in Taiwansaid that no new schedules have been announced, pending the parent company’s further notifications.

Due to heightened pandemic-related restrictions, Hong Kong has already suspended all its sailings on Global Dream.

As for Star Cruises, the line released a statement announcing the cancellation of Star Pisces sailings after 25 January 2022, also citing “changes in operations”. Guests on affected sailings will be granted full refunds.

Star Cruises’ online booking engine has also been ceased, with no new sailings available for booking. Prior to this, the line was operating 2-night ‘Langkawi Escape’ and 1-night ‘Straits of Malacca’ cruises since December 2021.

Along with sister brand Crystal Cruises, Star Cruises is also embroiled in a lawsuit with Peninsula Petroleum Far East. The bunker supplier has alleged in court that Crystal and Star owe it almost $3.5m for fuel deliveries in Miami.

Genting Hong Kong has a huge fleet and held massive ambitions, planning to build the world’s biggest vessels after buying German ship yards and starting mammoth projects including a 9,000 passenger ship.

Its luxury fleet was mostly bankrolled by a huge Asian casino empire, which is untouched by the troubled cruise and shipbuilding division.

Thousands of jobs and some great names in cruise hang on what happens next:  will the lines be sold, will they be rescued or will some fail to survive.

Trade site Cruise Industry News reports Genting Hong Kong paid NYK $550 million in cash for the company in 2015, before it expanded operations with riverboats, small ships and expedition operations.

The site says the prize is a fully financed brand-new expedition ship in the Crystal Endeavor, as well as the company’s four new riverboats, which were said to have been money-makers for the brand in 2019.

Talking to players in industry circles, Cruise Industry News put together an average of potential value for Crystal assets:

  • Crystal Symphony: $50 Million
  • Crystal Serenity: $100 Million
  • Four New Riverboats $18 Million Each
  • Crystal Endeavor: $200 Million