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Crystal Cruises' Crystal Serenity is being turned away from Aruba, where it was scheduled to dock on Jan. 29, and instead plans to end its aborted World Cruise in Bimini, The Bahamas, on Jan. 31.
The cruise was scheduled to disembark all passengers in Aruba on Jan. 30.
"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 be not permitted to dock in Aruba as scheduled," according to a Jan. 29 letter sent to passengers onboard. "Since receiving this most unfortunate news, we have spent hours conferring with Aruba officials toward a positive resolution - with even our humanitarian pleas falling on deaf ears - but to no avail."
The letter was shared with TravelPulse by luxury travel agent Steven E. Shulem, the nomadic owner of Strictly Vacations in Santa Barbara, Calif., who was onboard to escort a group for Signature Travel Network. He boarded Crystal Serenity on Jan. 17 for what was to be a 116-day Grand Voyage that instead was canceled on the third day due to Crystal's parent company's financial crisis. Shulem previously recounted what happened on the ship in this story.
The line's other ocean ship, Crystal Symphony, skipped its Jan. 22 final scheduled port of call in Miami and headed for Bimini instead after an arrest warrant was obtained by a fuel supplier in Florida. When asked for comment, Crystal said, "all of our attention is now focused on taking care of guests onboard and their return home."
As of Jan. 19, Crystal suspended ocean and expedition cruises through April 29, 2022, with river cruises suspended through May 2022. Crystal Symphony's last voyage was to end in Miami on Jan. 22, but the ship remains in Bimini under an arrest warrant obtained by a fuel supplier. Passengers were ferried to Fort Lauderdale.
Meanwhile, many Crystal Serenity passengers planned to disembark in Aruba and board Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Mariner in Aruba. Mariner previously canceled its 120-day World Cruise and replaced it with mostly Caribbean itineraries.
Shulem said he is waiting to hear if Regent can work anything out to pick up the Serenity passengers in Bimini instead.
The passenger letter, which was signed by "The entire Crystal team both onboard and ashore," said the company will provide overnight accommodations in Fort Lauderdale. Crystal said it would rebook air for passengers who booked flights with the line, while others could schedule flights from Fort Lauderdale or Miami.
"If you are unable to rebook your flight, our air department will assist you with your arrangements," the letter said. "Crystal will cover all change fees. We will, of course, continue to provide our signature onboard six-star service and exemplary amenities and provide a new schedule of activities. There are simply no words to express our deep regret and disappointment."
Theresa Norton, editor in chief of AGENTatHOME Magazine, covers the cruise industry for TravelPulse.com.
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