Crystal Symphony Ordered Arrested for Unpaid Fuel Bills
The financial problems for Genting Hong Kong and its operating companies are continuing to mount as a U.S. federal judge approved an order to arrest one of Crystal Cruises’ ships if it returns to Florida as scheduled this weekend. Crystal Cruises had announced earlier in the week that it would be suspending operations for three months due to the financial difficulties at its parent company, while a Bermuda court on Thursday approved the appointment of provisional liquidators for Genting Hong Kong as it seeks to refinance.
Peninsula Petroleum Far East became the first of the known creditors to seek court protection for its debts. On January 19, the bunker company filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida saying that it was owed nearly $5 million from Crystal Cruises for fuel deliveries made to Crystal’s two cruise ships in Miami as well as some outstanding fuel bills dating back to 2017 for deliveries made to another of Genting’s companies, Star Cruises, for fuel delivered to the cruise ship Superstar Libra in Penang, Malaysia. The complaint details $1.2 million against the Crystal Symphony, $2.1 million against Crystal, and nearly $1.3 million against Star Cruises Hong Kong.
Judge Darrin Gayles approved the order issuing a warrant for the arrest of the Crystal Symphony when the 51,000 gross ton cruise ship was due to arrive in Miami on January 22. The order approved liens against the vessel and its engines, machinery, tools, boats, anchors, navigational equipment, and everything aboard including furnishings. The vessel is ordered sold to satisfy the liens.
In the past, other cruise lines faced with similar situations have diverted their ships before they reached U.S. ports to avoid seizure. However, Crystal’s ability to divert could be limited by COVID travel restrictions and the need to provide for the passengers on the current cruise aboard the Crystal Symphony. Seatrade is reporting as of Friday, passengers have been told that the ship will divert to Bimini in the Bahamas where Genting operates a resort and casino and that they will be ferried back to the United States. Late on Friday evening, the cruise ship's AIS signal has been changed to show the Bahamas as its destination.
Crystal is also confirming reports that the managing director of their river cruises, Walter Littlejohn has resigned. Littlejohn had been with the company for six years developing the European river cruise operations, which are currently on winter layup, but Crystal said would resume in May 2022.
Crystal’s other cruise ships continue to operate with the Crystal Serenity in the Caribbean due to end its cruise next weekend in Aruba and one which is currently cruising in Antarctica. The third ship named in the complaint, the 42,275 gross ton Superstar Libra, had been removed from service in 2018 and sent to Wismar, Germany where she was providing accommodations for workers at Genting’s MV Werften Shipyard. Late in 2021, the vessel reportedly ended its work in Germany and was rumored being prepared for a trip to the scrapyards in the Far East.
Yesterday, January 20, a court in Bermuda approved the appointment of two provisional liquidators from the management consulting firm of Alvarez & Marsal in Hong Kong to oversee the reorganization of Genting Hong Kong. The liquidators are reported to be in discussions with the company’s management team to urgently assess the financial condition of the company and to identify potential remediation plans. Genting repeated that its goal is to “continue as a going concern,” charging the liquidators the goal of making a compromise or arrangement with the company’s creditors, or making arrangements to dispose of all or certain of the company’s assets to maximize value and returns for creditors of the company.
Reports from Asia indicate that Genting’s Dream Cruises was continuing to show available cruises on its website for its ships operating from Singapore and Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong has imposed stricter travel requirements which led to the cancelation of cruises till February. Dream Cruises had also resumed operations around Taiwan with one of its cruise ships at the end of the year while Genting’s Star Cruises returned its first ship to service in December 2021 sailing in Malaysia.