Update: Cruise West Sailings Canceled After Grounding

July 14, 2008
Update: Cruise West spokeswoman Jerrol Golden tells us the ship made a stop in Wrangell en route to Ketchikan as a precautionary measure as a small crack was discovered. The subsequent leak was "very minor," we're told; the ship was taking on less than 10 gallons of water per hour. The crack has been repaired.

The ship is on schedule to have all repairs completed in Ketchikan in time for the July 26 departure. Passengers booked on the July 12 and July 19 voyages will be given the chance to rebook the same sailing at a later date, switch to a different seven-night cruise or receive a full reimbursement. Affected passengers have already been contacted with these options.

(July 8) -- Cruise West has canceled today's departure of Spirit of Glacier Bay's four-night Glacier Bay Highlights cruise due to damages sustained by the ship when it touched bottom yesterday off the coast of Alaska. The ship is currently undergoing repairs in Juneau, and no date has been announced for the ship's return to service.

Passengers booked on today's sailing have two options. They can choose to take an alternate tour, which will employ planes, day boats and vans/buses to take passengers to Glacier Bay and Haines. Cruise West will give these guests a 50 percent refund of their cruise fare -- half of that as a cash refund and the other half as a future cruise credit. Alternately, passengers can choose to skip the tour and receive a full refund of their cruise fare, reimbursement for their airfare, assistance in arranging new flights home, and a $500 future cruise credit.

Passengers on the previous, interrupted cruise have arrived in Juneau, where they are able to take their regularly scheduled flights home.

A statement issued today by Cruise West says that safety is the line's number-one concern, and to ensure continued passenger well-being -- after two groundings and one mechanical problem on Alaska cruises just this season -- the line is working with the Coast Guard on a thorough Safety Management System Review. Cruise West will make changes to its management systems and processes based on the outcomes of the meetings and audits.

Stay tuned for more information about when Spirit of Glacier Bay intends to resume service.

-- by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor