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Crystal Serenity Refused Entry to Aruba as Crystal Cruises Winds Down

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Crystal Serenity, left, and Crystal Symphony, right, have both diverted to Bimini (Crystal Cruises file image)

Published Jan 30, 2022 5:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

After parent company Genting Hong Kong filed for liquidation earlier this month, Genting's Crystal Cruises brand has been winding down its commercial operations - and moving to avoid at least one vessel arrest. An additional wrinkle in its plans occurred Saturday when the vessel Crystal Serenity was denied entry to Aruba, where she had been scheduled to disembark her passengers.

On January 17, Crystal Serenity got under way for a world-trotting voyage that would have covered more than 80 ports in four months. Because of the bankruptcy, this cruise had to be terminated shortly after departure, and Crystal arranged to offload all passengers in Aruba. 

In a statement Saturday evening, the line said that it had had discussions with local authorities in Aruba about the vessel's finances and the possibility of any liens against it before docking. However, this was not enough to get permission to enter the port.

"Since receiving this most unfortunate news, we have spent hours conferring with Aruba officials toward a positive resolution – with even our humanitarian please falling on deaf ears – but to no avail," Crystal Cruises said in a message to the vessel's passengers, first reported by CruiseHive. "Although Crystal Serenity was cleared to arrive in Aruba today with all services paid for in advance and even though there are no reasonable risks or claims made against the vessel, local officials informed us on Friday at 4:30 p.m. that the ship will not be permitted to dock in Aruba as scheduled.”

Instead, Crystal Serenity will follow the route taken by Crystal Symphony and head for Bimini, in The Bahamas. Passengers will disembark at that port and board a ferry to Fort Lauderdale. 

The fallout from Genting's bankruptcy stretches around the world, from Hong Kong to Germany. The CEO has resigned, along with the firm's president and board of directors. In a letter obtained by Bloomberg, Genting Hong Kong founder and former CEO Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay blamed the German government for the firm's collapse, alleging that Germany had failed to come through on a promised $620 million loan. The funds would have saved Genting's MV Werften shipyard, and when the yard's finances collapsed, it quickly dragged the rest of the company into default.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck put the blame on Genting Hong Kong, accusing the firm of turning down the loan because Germany required co-financing and security guarantees.