|Celebrity Cruises, saying it wants to offer passengers "more time in select ports of call and a better arrival time for viewing" Hubbard Glacier, has decided to change Mercury's port of embarkation from Seattle to Vancouver in 2007. The ship will sail roundtrip from British Columbia's largest city. Mercury's itinerary will feature the same ports of call -- Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, a foray to the glacier, and sailing through the Inside Passage.|
Actually, Celebrity's rather ambiguous rationale for swapping ports at this late date could be related to ship speed, according to Mick Shultz, spokesman for the Port of Seattle. "As we understand it, it's (Mercury) not a brand new ship and making the round trip in seven days, as they tell it to us, is a challenge," he told Cruise Critic. "We don't think it is in any way a comment about dissatisfaction in Seattle."
Celebrity will maintain its previously announced schedule of three and four night Pacific Northwest voyages at the end of the Alaska 2007 season.
Folks who've already booked cruises (with deposits) on Mercury for next year's Alaska season are being offered a $100 per cabin credit for the inconvenience -- and those passengers who booked air through the cruise line will have the changes made for them.
Those who made independent air arrangements and who, as a result of the change, will incur a fee, will be reimbursed by Celebrity up to $100 upon proof. They'll also get the stateroom credit.
Despite the loss of homeport status for Celebrity's Mercury, Seattle, which Shultz notes has "matured as a cruise port -- our weekend slots are full," has become a significant competitor to Vancouver as a major point of turn-around for ships sailing Inside Passage itineraries. Next year, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America and Princess Cruises will all base two ships there while Royal Caribbean will have one.
--written by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor