Mutiny on Queen Mary 2?

January 24, 2006
The mood onboard Cunard's Queen Mary 2 this week is not as pleasant as you might expect to find on one of the world's most celebrated cruise ships.

According to CNN, some passengers are threatening to protest last-minute itinerary changes by not getting off the ship when it arrives in Rio on Thursday. The ship was delayed in Ft. Lauderdale for two days last week due to mechanical problems with one of its four propulsion pods. Work was done to put the problem pod temporarily out of service -- affecting speed and ultimately prompting Cunard to cancel calls at St. Kitts, Barbados and Salvador (basically every port on the first leg of a 38-night journey) and send the Queen straight to Rio de Janeiro.

The passengers have reportedly met with the captain to discuss Cunard's offered compensation, which they are unhappy with. The cruise line previously announced that passengers on the initial segment from New York (or Ft. Lauderdale) to Rio would receive a 50 percent refund; guests continuing through the second segment ending in Valparaiso on February 8, or the last segment ending in Los Angeles on February 22, will be provided a pro-rated refund for six days.

One question disappointed passengers have posed to Cunard and the media is "Why didn't we have the option to just get off in Ft. Lauderdale?" One reason could be the Jones Act: Cruise lines face stiff penalties if ships embark and disembark passengers in the U.S. without having called on at least one international port.

According to CNN, Cunard did not know how many ports would need to be canceled when the ship left Ft. Lauderdale. As far as ongoing itineraries and repairs are concerned, a spokeswoman for the line tells us that "there is still much assessment going on" ... and not much else. We'll keep you posted as things develop.

Meanwhile, Cruise Critic community member jimneycrkit reports on the situation live from QM2 in our Cunard forum: "[The passengers] had another meeting with the commadore [Saturday]. Disgruntled people were saying that they were not going to get off the ship in Rio if they don't get all their money back. One gal said she had called CNN about it and others were all in agreement not to spend any money onboard. Yesterday while I was at the shore excursion desk a gentleman was telling all in line to not buy any tours from Cunard and not to spend a dime onboard ... the meeting looked like a Parliament session with many boos and cheers when someone suggested that no one get off the ship and to stay in their cabins. One lady did point out the clause in the cruise contract stating that Cunard did not have to give them anything but she was shouted down.

"[At] yet another meeting with the commodore, they said they have 1,100 signatures [for] a class-action suit against Cunard. One guy stood up and blabbed that he was going to bankrupt Cunard and shut it down. All the complainers are now sunburned from yesterday. They are having such a bad time laying in the sun ... believe me it is only the 1,500 that are complaining, not everyone, in fact most people I have talked to are thinking these people are nuts."

While some folks are sympathetic to those missing port calls, just as many are appalled at passengers' behavior: "I think some people just go on vacation so that they can complain in a new location," writes cq6.

And while there is equal disdain on the topic of mutinies and sit-ins, what troubles most is idle talk about witholding tips from staffers. "Through all of this, no one has complained about the quality of the service or staff," bigo points out. "It seems unjust to hold them responsible, even if it was Cunard's fault."