Sailing on the dark waters of the English Channel and steaming southbound through the night toward Guernsey, Durant Imboden was surprised to feel the ship, the MV R7, steer sharp to the starboard side. Suspecting that, for some reason, the ship had reversed its course and was now heading north, he quickly consulted the GPS map on his state room television and confirmed that the R7 appeared to be heading back to its embarkation port of Dover.
"I was mostly curious about what was going on," Imboden remembers. "And what would happen next."
He wouldn't have to wait long. Checking his email, and then the company website, Imboden learned that the cruise line, Renaissance, had just gone bankrupt. The remainder of his 2001 voyage was strange and uncertain, with crew members crying as they served up a final breakfast, and passengers warned that after the ship reached port and was "arrested" by creditors, they may not be able to retrieve their personal items.
Fortunately, all went smoothly, and both cruisers and crew were repatriated to their home countries by the company. Says Imboden, "As I recall, similar scenarios played out across the world."
In some ways unthinkable, Imboden's experience raises a question worth considering: What should you do if you've booked a cruise, and the company goes bankrupt? And how can you protect yourself?