Summit's Saga Steamrolls On

May 18, 2006
The Summit Saga ... Continues
Passenger Unrest Aboard Celebrity's Summit
Celebrity Cancels One Summit Sailing

(1:45 p.m.) -- As you may have heard, passengers onboard this week's Celebrity repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver got a nasty surprise when the failure of part of Summit's propulsion system necessitated lower speeds -- and a resulting change in itineraries. Calls at Seattle and Sitka were canceled outright.

Is it turning out to be an eerie replay of the cursed Queen Mary 2 voyage to South America -- remember the one in which the ship suffered engine problems and had to cancel all ports? There passengers mutinied, and ultimately Cunard caved.

Passengers on Summit report that they have been offered $200 as compensation for the missed ports and $15.68 for their port fees. Passengers slated to sail on Summit's next cruise -- which has been canceled so the ship can be repaired -- were offered a full refund and a free cruise. Celebrity policymakers have, in the face of passenger mutiny, remained resolute about the initial offer to those now onboard.

And So the Saga Continues
There seem to be two camps on Cruise Critic's "Mutiny on the Summit" thread, which since its first posting on May 13 has gone to nine pages and recorded 10,400 page views as of this writing.

In the first? The prevailing theme of some posters is, in essence, "shut up and stop whining." Others, like member Ships R Great, ask "why do passengers choose to run the risk in booking on this class of ships when it has been so much in the news for having pod problems? IMHO, they are at fault for their discomfort, not [Celebrity]. (Just joking, but there is a kernel of truth there)."

In the second camp, one that a Celebrity spokesman quantified as four or five troublemakers, are folks onboard who think poorly of Celebrity's offer in light of the fact that key ports were either shortened or canceled altogether and, as well, that the compensation offer seems minimal in comparison to the quite generous policy for passengers affected by the cancellation of the next cruise.

A Celebrity spokesman reports that the company's position stands.

Reports Lovetocruise77, who received a missive from her mother and stepfather, both currently onboard, the situation has deteriorated to the extent that "there's a group of angry old men with shuffleboard sticks ready to kill anything in their path unless they get a full refund. My Mom called me on Sunday from her cell phone while she was in between shore excursions in Ketchikan saying 'It's like Parliament! People are livid! Passengers are forming committees, having meetings and rallying together. They are yelling things like "we shall not be divided!" and "no more gifts shall we buy, no more gambling will we do!"'

"My Mom also said in jest, 'if we were going any slower, we'd be going in reverse!'"

The situation has become so contentious that Celebrity sent two representatives to Ketchikan to try to mediate passengers' concerns. Alas, that turned out to be problematic, according to numerous reports, as the representatives refused to address the group of 400 - 500 passengers that have rallied together, Wilson says, including several hundred Germans who "have cast their lot with our protest group. ... It's nice to have international solidarity."

While other passengers have written in to say they're still enjoying their trip, the onboard, er, spirit is deteriorating. "One guy," reveals Wilson, "got slapped in the brig for taking a swing at the hotel manager." And it didn't help that the ship's visit to Hubbard Glacier, considered on most Alaska cruises to be a highlight, was shortened by an hour and a half.

The problem isn't just the canceled ports but the sense that passengers weren't treated properly from the beginning. In an email to Cruise Critic, Courtney Brayson wrote, on behalf of her parents who are currently onboard, to express her displeasure with the situation. "It was a huge disappointment that not only have my parents missed out on two of the planned stops that they were very much looking forward to but it's also the lack of communication and compassion from Celebrity" that is troubling. "I feel something more should be done. People travel halfway across the world to go on these cruises and I hope that future passengers realize how Celebrity is treating them."

On The Sunny Side of Things
Says Lovetocruise77, "My mom and stepdad do have a great attitude about the situation and are still enjoying themselves. They mentioned they've seen a lot of whales and dolphins and have had great weather." And even Wilson noted that "bottom line the crew is working very hard at their jobs trying to make the cruise a pleasant experience for everyone."