QE2 Bumps World Cruise Passengers

February 15, 2005

Apparently, industry rhetoric that world cruises are more popular -- and better sold -- this year than in previous winters appears to be right on the money if the experiences of 12 Queen Elizabeth 2 passengers offer any insight.

QE2 was so well sold, in fact, that it was oversold and had to turn away a dozen passengers who had arrived in Sydney to board the vessel. In some cases, these folks -- who had purchased segments of the world cruise, slated to depart on February 8 from Sydney -- flew all the way to Australia from the U.K. and Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, before they got the bad news. In most cases, the travelers were only sailing on one segment, the eight-day Sydney to Fremantle itinerary. One U.K. couple, however, had booked its voyage from Sydney all the way to Southampton.

Cunard moved all 12 passengers to sister company Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess which is spending the Northern Hemisphere winter sailing Australia/New Zealand itineraries. As compensation, the passengers were given a complete refund, the cruise (complimentary) on Sapphire Princess and a future free trip on a Cunard vessel. The company also picked up the tab for air, car and hotel expenses.

While most unfortunate, Cunard's compensation to the turned-away passengers was a bit more generous than that offered by another British line that also ran into problems with its world cruise. As we reported last month, P&O Cruises abruptly canceled its 103-day world cruise on Aurora 10 days into the voyage. The ship's technical problems with its propulsion system were so severe that ultimately Aurora returned to Southampton and sent passengers home with a measly 25 percent future cruise credit (in addition to a full refund). Passengers have already filed lawsuits, according to British media reports.

Aurora has not yet resumed cruises -- the ship is in a German shipyard awaiting a new starboard motor.