According to Alaska news reports, three passengers used their cell phone to contact police, telling 911 that "people were getting unruly onboard the ship, and they believed a riot was about to begin."
Ketchikan Police Chief Alan Bengaard told press that 500 passengers on the ship's third deck were upset because their flights out of Alaska had been rerouted. "Evidentially, they were told they were going to be flown to Anchorage, and plans had changed and some were upset with that.”
Spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., parent company of Celebrity, said that while police came to the pier, they never boarded the ship. "All of the guests flew out of Ketchikan yesterday."
(Update, August 22, 10:20 a.m. EDT) -- Many of Celebrity Millennium's passengers began their journeys home yesterday on chartered flights to Seattle and Vancouver, Celebrity Cruises told Cruise Critic. The remaining passengers will depart today on flights to Anchorage. Additionally, the line said it is assisting "any guest who is already in Alaska for the next sailing" with booking and paying for hotel rooms and flights back home.
Celebrity Millennium will depart Ketchikan later today to begin its voyage to a Grand Bahama shipyard where it will be repaired. The ship is expected to arrive September 7.
Much of the crew will stay onboard the ship during the duration of the transit and dry dock, but others will depart in Ketchikan. For those staying, the line's dry dock policy protects tips for crew members who earn tips.
(August 21, 8:00 a.m. EDT) -- Celebrity Cruises has canceled the remainder of Celebrity Millennium's Alaska cruise season after mechanical problems forced the line to cut the ship's current sailing short.
In total, four additional sailings were canceled.
"A mechanical issue has made it necessary to perform unscheduled repairs on Celebrity Millennium," Cynthia Martinez, director of global corporate communications for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., told Cruise Critic. "As a result, we have informed guests that we have had to cancel the following sailings: August 23, August 30, September 6 and September 13."
All affected passengers will receive a refund within three weeks and a future cruise credit.
The cancellations mean an end to Millennium's Alaska season. The line said the ship will return to operation for its September 22 sailing out of San Diego, California, on a 15-night Panama Canal cruise to Fort Lauderdale.
A spokesperson for the line said that ship repairs will take place at the ship yard in Freeport, Bahamas.
On the Cruise Critic forums, members are expressing concern over the cancellations with some having difficulty getting through to Celebrity's dedicated phone lines, and several struggling to reschedule or cancel arrangements -- such as flights and independent shore excursions -- related to the cruise.
Member SnorkelBunny, posting on the Roll Call for the September 13 sailing, provided the following information: "Finally got through after more than an hour. 100% refund to be posted in 3 weeks, 25% FCC [future cruise credit] of cost we paid for cruise, which will be issued in six to eight weeks and valid for one year. Apparently they will pay $200 for airline change fees, but don't have any details at this time. I was asked to call back in a day or two when volumes die down. No information on hotel change/cancellation fees. I'm still in shock and not sure what we're going to do."
Celebrity Millennium's last three sailings have all been affected by mechanical problems. The 91,000-ton ship was delayed coming into port at the end of its 7-night August 2 cruise, and then underwent three days of emergency repairs during its August 9 Alaska sailing. The ship was stranded in Seward for four days and the line ultimately canceled every port call on the cruise, sailing directly to Vancouver. Passengers on that voyage also received complete refunds and a credit toward a future cruise.
--by Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor