Inside Crystal Cruises’ Last Voyage: Tears, Panic and Pandemonium


It’s the most high-profile – and most luxurious – casualty of the pandemic: Crystal Cruises, a luxury line owned by Genting Hong Kong, has officially shut down.

Crystal was the most awarded luxury line on the seas. It was bought by Genting Hong Kong, a subsidiary of a Malaysian casino company, in a 2016 deal valued at $550 million. The company intended to expand its business from ocean cruises to private jet charters, offshore residences, expeditions and river cruises.

Despite the pandemic, Crystal launched a discovery yacht with helicopters and submarines. But it was now part of a complex conglomerate that included Star Cruises, Dream Cruises and a German shipyard. He built ships that would be among the largest in the world with 9,500 passengers.

It all started to fall apart when the German government insisted on loan repayments, and a Singaporean oil company demanded repayment of $2.5 million in bills.

Crystal’s US offices closed this week. Australian staff did not respond to calls.

It looks like the cruise line‘s assets will be sold individually and not as a whole, which means the end of the business.

An announcement to the crew on crystal symphony said: “I have been advised that the entire Crystal Cruises office in the United States is in the process of closing.

“Unfortunately, this is the end of Crystal Cruises, and we don’t know what will happen in the future.

“The ships are for sale…I know you probably have a lot of questions, but unfortunately I don’t have answers at this time.”

Apparently, Crystal Cruises’ secured creditor, a series of banks with mortgages on the ships, decided to take control of the ships and protect their interests.

crystal striving, the line’s shipping ship is due to dock in Uruguay on February 10 and it is not yet clear what will happen.

crystal symphony and Crystal Serenity were both seized for unpaid expenses. Both ships have disembarked all passengers, however, there are still crew members on both ships awaiting the promise of their salaries and repatriation flights.

Crystal also owns five riverboats which are currently in Europe and are expected to be sold.

Crystal Cruises was founded in the 80s and has long been a favorite of Australian cruise passengers.

Passengers, Mr. Barry Shulman and his wife Allyn were meant to have the trip of a lifetime after spending six figures on their top-of-the-range cabin on the Crystal Serenity.

The Crystal Endeavor submersible in the icy waters of Antarctica

The Shulmans had booked a four-month cruise sailing from Miami to the Caribbean before stopping in Barcelona, ​​Athens, St. Tropez and beyond.

But trouble began after just three days on board the luxury cruise ship when crew members announced the cruise line was going bankrupt and they would be dropped off in Aruba.

According to La Poste, the Crystal Serenity was seized in Bahamian waters by U.S. Marshals for an unpaid $4.6 million fuel bill.

“The captain called the intercom to say it was the end of the cruise. It was the end of everything,” Mr Shulman told the New York Post.

“A lot of people were panicking; some were crying. We’re talking about old people on a boat who didn’t know what was going on…it was disturbing.

The situation escalated overnight, with passengers receiving a piece of paper under their doors.

“He signaled that Aruba wouldn’t take us,” Shulman said, adding that no specific reason was given.

“There was a lot of stress and a million rumours. Some said it was because of COVID. Other people thought it was because Aruba didn’t want to get involved in the lawsuit or the seizure of the boat.

Raja at work
Raja at work

The ship was diverted to Bimini in the Bahamas and passengers were told to board a two-hour ferry ride to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Once they arrived, Mr Shulman said they had to stay on the boat for an hour before letting the passengers all disembark at the same time.

“There was a pandemonium,” he said. “We arrived at the terminal and there were, at the start, two customs officers. It took hours to go through it. Then there were no more carts, no more porters… People couldn’t find their bags. It was completely disorganized. »

“We get off the ferry to find all the luggage thrown everywhere, colors and numbers not together, luggage falling off, no porters and no Crystal reps. Nothing. No one gives instructions. Nobody helps the elderly. It was a disgraceful sight,” Ms. Shulman, a former lawyer, wrote on Facebook.

It wasn’t until midnight that passengers could board the buses that took them to Miami, nearly an hour away. But the pandemonium continued.

“But nobody had a manifesto,” Mr. Shulman said.

“A lot of people didn’t check ahead. They ended up at the Intercontinental but had rooms at the Hilton. It was past midnight and they were being yelled at for being in the wrong place.

Mr. Shulman and his wife are still confused and angry that the Crystal Serenity was allowed to leave the Port of Miami in the first place.

“They (Crystal) knew something was up before they took off and they should have said, ‘Sorry, we can’t leave Miami.’ But they started cruising because they can keep the money from the first leg of the trip that way.

The Shulmans are currently sailing on a Regent Seven Seas ship after the goof and enjoying their time at sea.

“There were people who had saved up for this unique cruise. We were all told not to worry, there would be a prorated refund, the cruise line would take care of that. But you can’t even trust these guys anymore.

“We’re on Regent Cruise right now. Booked it while things were going south on the Serenity.”

Their new cruise sails through the Caribbean, to the Amazon and to San Francisco.


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