Genting Hong Kong’s luxury cruise company, Crystal Cruises has been suspended until at least April 29 as the group fights for its survival. With mounting debt and no financial relief coming, Genting’s future as a cruise ship operator is in doubt. One ship is already facing seizure over unpaid debt, leaving passengers stranded in the Bahamas.
Crystal Cruises Caught in a Storm
Crystal announced Thursday that operations on its Ocean and Expedition ships have been suspended immediately. However, Crystal River Cruises’ butler-services, Crystal River Cruises, will continue to operate through May. The move comes after Genting Hong Kong was forced to file for bankruptcy protection last week.
Crystal’s management team will be able to assess the current business situation and explore different options going forward through the suspension, according to the company.
The three cruise ships currently at sea, Crystal Serenity Crystal Symphony sailing in the Caribbean and Crystal Endeavor Antarctica, were expected to finish their current voyages before going on hiatus. Crystal Symphony, however, wasn’t so lucky.
Genting Hong Kong announced that it had filed a petition to the Supreme Court of Bermuda to wind up the company. The petition was filed after the company failed to obtain the funding required to fulfill its financial obligations. It also filed a summons seeking the appointment of joint provisional liquidators to prepare a restructuring plan for the company’s debts. They are estimated to total approximately $2.8 billion.
Crystal Symphony Passengers Left Stranded
Crystal Symphony was to dock in Miami over the weekend but instead sailed to the Bahamas. This move was forced after a US judge granted an order to seize the vessel as part of a lawsuit over unpaid fuel.
On Sunday, some passengers were transported by ferry from Fort Lauderdale to Port Everglades. According to a spokesperson for Crystal Cruises, the ferry ride was “uncomfortable because of inclement weather.” A Crystal Cruises spokesperson said that guests were also taken to nearby airports. However, they declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The ship was due to arrive in Miami Saturday. A federal judge issued an arrest warrant Thursday for the ship. This is a maritime practice in which a US Marshal takes charge of a vessel. Once the vessel enters US waters, a Marshal takes control of it.
Peninsula Petroleum Far East filed the lawsuit against the ship in Miami federal court under a maritime procedure that allows for actions against vessels for unpaid bills. Crystal Symphony is alleged to have been chartered by or managed by both Star Cruises and Crystal Cruises. They are being sued for breaching contracts over alleged fuel debts of $4.6 million.
Genting Hong Kong Boss Steps Down
Genting Hong Kong announced that chairman and CEO Lim Kok Thay resigned as of last Friday. It added in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that Lim was no longer the executive director of the company and had also ceased to serve as a member on the group’s remuneration and nomination committees.
This decision comes after a Bermuda court approved the appointment of joint provisional executors for the company. The purpose of the move is to restructure the debts of the group and allow it to “continue to be a going concern.”
Provisional liquidators were authorized to “exercise the powers of managing the business affairs of the Hong Kong-listed company” and “develop and propose a restructuring the group’s financial indebtedness.”
According to Monday’s filing, Genting Hong Kong’s vice CEO, group president, and executive director, Colin Au Fook Yew, has also resigned. His exit came as of Friday, as well.