HAL's Maasdam Leaves Embarking Passengers in Savannah

May 10, 2007

Oops. Someone goofed.

Holland America's Maasdam called at Savannah, Georgia, for the first time on Sunday, May 6, 2007, traveling from Ft. Lauderdale to Montreal on a repositioning cruise. On this itinerary, Holland America Line had arranged for one group and 16 independent travelers to join the ship in Savannah, a total of 133 passengers.

Unfortunately, through some miscommunication, the boarding passengers were left at the dock because the Savannah terminal was not equipped with the necessary requirements for security checks for boarding passengers.

A spokesman for Holland America Line says that they contacted the port several times over the past three or four weeks about the arrangement. But Robert Morris of the Georgia Port Authority disagreed, according to media reports, stating that their understanding was that the ship would be arriving for refueling only and no onboard guests would be leaving the ship at all -- let alone allowing new passengers to embark. "We operate a cargo terminal, not a cruise ship terminal," Morris told journalists on Sunday. "This is the cruise line's mistake."

While it's unusual to have guests embark in a city other than the origination point, it's not unheard of, especially when a ship is repositioning.

The affected passengers were credited with one day's fare and offered a $100 per-person shipboard credit; they boarded in Charleston, South Carolina (about 85 miles away), on Monday, May 7, 2007.

In the meantime, about 1,000 passengers were allowed to debark in the rain to visit Savannah, crowding into trolleys that were sent to the dock in an industrial part of the port. In fact, the Convention and Visitors Bureau seems to be at odds with the Port Authority, and hopes that the problems at the terminal can be worked out so that Savannah becomes a viable port of call for cruise ships. Maasdam, which is continuing on its journey as scheduled, will return to Savannah in October.

Maasdam is the largest cruise ship to ever call at this iconic, quintessential southern city.

--by Jana Jones, Cruise Critic Contributor