Hundreds of crew members remain aboard a luxury cruise ship sitting idle in the Bahamas after a U.S. judge granted an order to seize the vessel as part of a lawsuit over $4 million in unpaid fuel, according to one of the ship's performers.
Elio Pace, a musician who has performed from time to time onboard the ship since 2013, told FOX Business that he and around 30 to 50 other crew members got off the Crystal Symphony on Sunday and boarded a ferry to Florida.
He estimated that 350 crew members are still on board.
"Nobody knows what the next stage will be and whether people will get paid and when these people will get home," Pace said.
The ship was supposed to dock in Miami on Saturday. However, a federal judge there issued an arrest warrant for the ship on Thursday, a maritime practice where a U.S. Marshal goes aboard a vessel and takes charge of it once it enters U.S. waters. Instead, the ship diverted to the Bahamian island of Bimini.
Pace had boarded the ship on Tuesday for what was supposed to be a 36-day contract. Just one day later, the captain announced that everyone would be getting off in Miami on Saturday and that operations would cease, Pace said.
Pace said there was a "deflated atmosphere" amongst the hundreds of crew members after the captain announced the news. Even though "the level of service never dropped," Pace said there was a serious shift in the mood.
"Their heads had dropped, their shoulders had dropped, they couldn't make eye contact," Pace recalled when trying to talk to fellow staff members.
One staff member even told Pace that he had been with the ship for 12 years and now fears that he no longer has a job.
"They were still as chirpy as they could possibly be, but I could see through it. I knew that they were hurting inside," he added. "It was pretty bad."
On Friday, Pace said the captain made the second announcement that they weren't going to be on arriving in Miami on Saturday but would be diverting to the Bahamas and that people wouldn't be able to disembark until Sunday.
Crew members were "dying with sadness because they have been massively let down," Pace said, adding that they didn't know when or how they are going to get home.
"My heart goes out to those wonderful people having to stay on the ship with all of that uncertainty about their future," Pace said. "I feel so sorry for what they’re going through."
On Sunday, passengers and some crew members, including Pace, were taken to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, but their troubles were far from over.
A Crystal Cruises spokesperson said in a statement that the ferry ride was apparently "uncomfortable due to inclement weather."
Pace said it was the "roughest two hours" he has ever experienced at sea.
"I've never seen so many people reaching for the toilet and reaching for the side of the ship," he said.
The ship's operator, Genting Hong Kong Ltd., on Wednesday filed with the Supreme Court of Bermuda to appoint provisional liquidators after exhausting "all reasonable efforts" to negotiate with creditors, according to Bloomberg. The company reported in May that it lost $1.7 billion as the pandemic and shutdowns continued affecting the travel industry.
Crystal Cruises notified staff on the Crystal Symphony on Wednesday that all cruise operations will be suspended until at least April.
"This was an extremely difficult decision but a prudent one given the current business environment and recent developments with our parent company, Genting Hong Kong," Jack Anderson, Crystal's president, said in a statement on the decision to cease all cruises, according to the Daily Mail.
The Associated Press and Fox News' Emma Colton contributed to this report.
The original headline of this story said crew members were stuck at sea. It has since been adjusted for clarity.