This week we introduce a new feature to Cruise News - Cruise Views. In addition to the regular news stories we cover each week, Cruise Views will provide ongoing commentary on topical, cruise-related issues. This week's commentary by TravelPage.com's European Cruise Editor, Malcolm Oliver focuses on the highly publicized demands for compansation from passengers on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 after the ship was forced to miss several ports of call after one of her engines was damaged.
We Demand a Refund
Over the past few weeks the world's media has carried numerous stories about the Queen Mary 2 cruise fiasco. In short, propulsion problems forced the cancellation of three ports of call (St. Kitts, Barbados and Salvador) scheduled for the Port Everglades to Rio de Janeiro leg of a scheduled 38-day cruise.
The ship proceeded directly to Rio de Janeiro and many passengers claim they were not told about the cancelled ports until after they set sail. One passenger said that they felt that he had effectively been held hostage. Many were furious with Cunard's compensation offer of 50% which they considered inadequate. Some passengers threatened legal action and even a sit-in at Rio.
Much strong debate about the situation has raged on our CruiseTalk forum. Many people questioned the motives and behaviour of the unhappy passengers. Selected comments include the following:
- "I think the compensation is overly generous in fact. With that 50% fare back, I could sit back, relax and still enjoy QM2 to the full…"
- "Am I alone in feeling that this is just one of these things you need to deal with…Stuff happens all the time…"
- "Making life unpleasant for the Captain, crew and other passengers is unacceptable".
- "Maybe these childish, self-centered passengers should be told that they will not be allowed on board any Carnival owned ship again…"
- "They still cruised on the QUEEN MARY 2, and still went FLL-RIO. I dont see what all the fuss is about."
Now, I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the booking contracts ‘fine print' all cruise lines have the right to change the itinerary due to weather conditions or other unseen circumstances. However I seem to be in the minority in supporting the passengers' stance for improved compensation.
Here is the way I see it: in essence, the passengers purchased a ‘cruise', but they have been provided with a ‘line voyage'. Anyone who has experienced both will know that they are very different experiences. Multiple sea days can be some people worst nightmare, for others they are much sought after.
One might argue that it's a bit like buying a stove only to find that a fridge has been delivered. You of course would want the goods exchanged. Cunard cannot exchange the goods in this case. Their offer of 50% compensation would only buy half a similar Cunard cruise, even if one was available, which it is not. Then there is the question of the inconvenience and stress that has been caused to many passengers. Given these circumstances, I feel refunding the full price was the right thing for Cunard to do.
On a positive note I'm sure they are still being very well fed and pampered, as promised in the brochure. Lets not forget that this fantastic vessel has had two years of virtually trouble free operation. The QM2 is arguably the most breathtaking vessel to currently sail the seven seas. If I had to be ‘held hostage' on a ship, the QM2 would easily be my first choice - Malcolm Oliver.