Princess Cruises Provides Earthquake Response Timeline

March 4, 2010

Princess Cruises Speaks Out About Cruise Impact of Chile Earthquake

Q&A: Princess Cruises Responds to Earthquake-Related Challenges

Editor's Note: The information appears in its entirety and is unedited by Cruise Critic.

A message from Jan Swartz, Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing & Customer Service, Princess Cruises:

First, I would like to say that we at Princess extend our sympathies to those affected by the disastrous earthquake in Chile. We are very grateful to the port officials and our tourism partners in Chile who have worked tirelessly to assist Princess during this difficult time, particularly in the midst of handling their own personal and family challenges due to the earthquake.

Second, I would like to say how sorry we are that the earthquake and its aftermath has impacted the vacation plans for many of our passengers booked on the February 18 and March 2 sailings of Star Princess.

We think it might be helpful to share how the event unfolded from our point of view, and how we made decisions.

Saturday, February 27

  • First learned of earthquake on CNN at 5 am PST

  • We immediately mobilized our Emergency Response team

  • We conducted a comprehensive review of the entire fleet to understand the impact of the Tsunami and began to make some adjustments to itineraries and port timings

  • CNN reported the airport will be closed for 24 hours

  • This 24 hour time frame was several days prior to cruise departure

  • Flights outside that time frame were still showing as operating in our air system

  • We confirmed the port was operational and we made the decision to continue to sail to Santiago

  • We prepared and distributed statements for our reservations staff to use which explained we were aware of the earthquake and that the airport was closed for 24 hours, which was all the information we had at the time.

  • We posted a statement on by mid day. This is our primary form of communication on weekends with travel agents and consumers as many offices are closed

  • Onboard, we provided free Internet and phone for all passengers in order for them to call their families and begin to evaluate alternate travel arrangements if needed

  • We outreached to our passengers on the ship with independent travel arrangements to assist in confirming the status of their post-cruise hotel stay

  • We had representatives at the Santiago airport to meet any early arriving passengers

    Sunday, February 28

  • CNN and our ground contacts in Chile began to report that the airport would be closed 72 hours and open on March 2

  • Reports indicate the highway and the port are damaged but operational

  • As the vast majority of our passengers fly in on the day of sailing (March 2), we believed at this point that most flights would operate

  • Some flights are reported as landing

  • We prepared updated statements for incoming calls, advising of the 72-hour closure of the airport but that we understand that flights are still operating on March 2

  • We begin to hear that some flights for March 2 arrivals are being cancelled. We understand hotel availability for disembarking passengers is severely limited. We decide to hold the ship for 24 hours until Wednesday at noon in order to help passengers onboard and allow more inbound passengers to catch the ship.

  • We dispatched our Care team on flights from Los Angeles to Santiago via Mexico City to assist

  • We had representatives at the Santiago airport to meet any early arriving passengers Monday, March 1

  • We continue to get news during the day that more flights are cancelled, but as our passengers come from all over the world, depending upon where people are flying from, some airlines are cancelling flights and others were not

  • We post updated statement on

  • We get further confirmation on hotel availability in Santiago, which says new rooms are limited. At that point we were trying to balance the need to provide shelter for the passengers on the current voyage with also the need to gather as many inbound passengers as possible

  • In the evening we decide to hold the ship for another 24 hours, until Thursday, March 4 at noon

  • We made the decision to allow passengers to stay onboard longer, if needed.

  • At this point we have to commit to a departure time given the strains on the port and our needs to communicate the ongoing itinerary for the remainder of passengers who may want to catch the ship at some future port

  • We have representatives at the Santiago airport 24/7

  • We set up hospitality desks in five hotels where the majority of our passengers were staying in Santiago to offer assistance

    Tuesday, March 2

  • Star Princess arrives in Valparaiso and disembarks roughly half the passengers who previously had hotel accommodations in Valparaiso after Princess validates the hotels are operational

  • Passengers already in Santiago (approx. 200) embarked the ship

  • We got notification from the port that they needed us to move the ship to anchor, because of the damage to the other berths and the need for cargo ships to come in.

  • Every passenger in Valparaiso was provided with a letter with the contact information of our local representative

  • We also evaluated the tender pier, which was extensively damaged and it was determined unsafe for our passengers

  • We did outbound calls using an auto-dialer to advise of revised ship departure date (to Thursday)

  • In the evening, we sent emergency notifications via email and fax to travel agents and passengers notifying them of the revised itinerary

  • Representatives are stationed at the Santiago airport 24/7

  • Our hospitality desks continue to operate at the major Santiago hotels

  • We put statement on to the same effect

    Wednesday, March 3

  • The ship stayed at anchor where Princess worked with passengers onboard to determine their desired plans for disembarkation

  • Our air department continued to check availability of air flights from Santiago and other future ports so our passengers could make a choice whether to disembark in Santiago or continue to sail to a port that may have greater air availability

  • Positioned representatives at Santiago airport 24/7

  • Our hospitality desks remained open at the major Santiago hotels

    Thursday, March 4

  • More than 500 passengers boarded this morning, and more than 400 elected to stay onboard and disembark at a future port

  • Positioned representatives at Santiago airport 24/7

  • Our hospitality desks will remain open at the major Santiago hotels where passengers are still located

  • Star Princess sailed today with approximately 1200 passengers

    As you can see from the timeline, this was an unusual situation for our company with unprecedented challenges. We're disappointed that many things have not gone the way we would have hoped. And we understand that passengers are upset that their vacation plans have been impacted.

    Q&A: Princess Cruises Responds to Earthquake-Related Challenges