With this, the ships — which have been under arrest in Freeport since early February — should be free to leave.
At least 30 days
The court will now begin sifting through claims. An attorney for Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity's mortgage holder, Norwegian bank DNB, told The Tribune the splitting of proceeds wouldn’t happen for at least 30 days.
Each ship will be considered on a separate basis because the mortgages and the claims are separate and against the specific ship, according to Miami-based maritime attorney Robert Kritzman with Clyde & Co.
Though he and his firm are not involved with the Crystal matter or the Bahamian court, Kritzman has experience with other ship auctions.
He said settlement could happen after 30 days though it may take longer.
'It should be pretty straightforward,' he said, unless claims are challenged as exaggerated or fraudulent.
Who gets paid first
Typically, the first paid would be costs of the legal proceedings such as custodial fees, then maritime liens — starting, in order, with seafarers' wages, tort liens such as personal injuries and 'vessel necessaries' such as fuel, supplies, dockage fees, etc. — and then the ships' mortgage holder.
V.Ships Leisure has been serving as the custodian for both vessels, and creditors include Peninsula Petroleum and SMS, according to The Tribune.
Different path for unsecured creditors
Unsecured creditors, Kritzman said, would not make claims against ship assets but with the Crystal Cruises liquidators.
In this case, that is Michael Moecker & Associates, approved by a Florida court in February as assignee for the benefit of creditors. This specialist company has control of what's left of Crystal's non-ship assets, its accounts and records, and has been collecting creditors' claims for payment. This includes the claims of passengers, travel advisors, vendors and shoreside employees.
Robert Kritzman provided expert legal commentary about the Genting Hong Kong and Crystal Cruises path to liquidation in the March issue of Seatrade Cruise Review