Cruise West has canceled the remainder of Spirit of Glacier Bay's 2008 Alaska cruises after an accidental grounding earlier this month required the ship to seek repairs. The ship was originally scheduled to return to service on July 26.
The cruise line decided to combine the necessary repairs with regularly scheduled maintenance and refurbishments that normally would have been done at the end of the season, some five weeks from now. Spirit of Glacier Bay has already departed for Seattle, where it will have the work done and then spend the rest of the winter until next year's Alaska season (the ship only sails Alaska cruises and was not scheduled for additional itineraries).
All passengers scheduled to sail on Spirit of Glacier Bay's three- and four-night Glacier Bay Highlights cruises will be accommodated on another Alaska itinerary offered by the six Cruise West vessels sailing the region. Alternately, booked guests can choose to receive a full refund plus a $500 per person future cruise credit. According to spokeswoman Jerrol Golden, over 80 percent of passengers have agreed to be re-accommodated.
Planned upgrades for the ship include the redecoration and renovation of public corridors, lobby areas and the Observation Lounge, as well as new carpeting and window treatments in the cabins.
Cruise West has struggled with safety issues this Alaska season -- the line has already experienced two groundings and one mechanical problem. Because of these incidents, the Coast Guard implemented a safety stand-down with the line as early as June 23 this year, after the first grounding. According to Captain John Robert, the commanding officer for the sector, the stand-downs go above and beyond the Coast Guard's usual inspections -- the cruise line's management, ships' crews and the Coast Guard partner together to go over safety systems and required procedures. The goal is to recognize shortcomings and fix problems so all of the line's ships can operate safely.