The owner of the beleaguered Palm Beach Princess says he hopes to have a hearing with a bankruptcy judge today and be able to resume normal operations by Tuesday.
The owner of the beleaguered Palm Beach Princess says he hopes to have a hearing with a bankruptcy judge today and be able to resume normal operations by Tuesday, company officials said.
Plans for a hearing come two days after a dozen senior members of the Princess' crew were fired Saturday and the cruise's management gave the rest an ultimatum: Do your jobs or go home.
The firings were the latest in a chaotic stretch, which began with the ship's owner filing for bankruptcy on Thursday and swelled Christmas day when a 300-person cruise had to be canceled because the crew refused to operate the ship.
Underscoring the uncertainty, the Princess' Web site on Sunday promised an update to its status by 7 a.m. today, but this morning the company's Web site appeared to be offline and not operating.
General Manager Greg Karan said those fired Saturday were ring-leaders of a work-stoppage on Friday, which he called "a conspiracy, mutiny and a strike."
Those fired included most of the ship's senior staff, crew members said, including the first mate, the first steward and the chief electrician. The ship's casino supervisor told The Palm Beach Post he resigned of his own accord.
The crew is mostly made up of foreign nationals who have work visas that do not allow them on U.S. soil. Those fired were escorted off the ship into waiting vans by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.
Some of them had 25 years experience on the ship, other crew members said as they were led away.
As they disembarked, the remaining crew, many of whom had gathered on the boat's top deck, yelled and cheered.
Some of those crew members, most of whom spoke to the Palm Beach Post on the condition that their full names not be used, said they feared that the ship would set sail for the Bahamas and dump them there, outside of the protections of U.S. labor law and stranding them without a paid way home.
They were not paid on Thursday, they said, and they'd been told that the company was deducting the cost of their flight home from their remaining wages.
"Its a big mess" one employee said. "Really, the boat should have paid the employees on time."
Several said they were devastated by losing their officers. Now, they said, they want to be paid, fired and given a plane ticket.
"I'm sad. I'm upset. I want to go home," one said.
Karan said that won't be a problem.
"Whoever would like to stay and work, that is a privilege in this country and on this ship, by way of a work visa," he said. If they do not wish to work and would like to depart, we will gladly process their tickets."
He said he gave the option to some crew members in person Saturday evening. The rest will be told in meetings over the next few days, he said.
Crew members should be paid on Tuesday, he said, assuming his company can get a bankruptcy judge's OK on Monday.
Because those fired were removed for cause, Karan said, management initially told them the cost of their ticket would be deducted from their wages, as he said is allowed.
"When we saw the anger," Koran said, the decision was reversed, "to keep the peace."