Lifeboat Malfunction Delays Regent Cruise Ship, Passengers Miss Flights

August 30, 2013
(Update: 8:45 a.m. EDT) -- A spokesperson for Regent's U.K. office has confirmed that all passengers who booked flights through the cruise line were rebooked on flights the same day (yesterday) as their originally scheduled departures.

Regarding passengers who had booked air travel separately, Regent said in a statement: "For the handful of UK/EU non air/sea guests disembarking in Rome, our Guest Services team contacted travel agents concerned, advising them of Mariner's late arrival so that they could assist their clients with any flight arrangements, were their clients' onward journeys to be affected."

(7:00 a.m. EDT) -- Passengers on a Regent Seven Seas cruise missed flights after a "technical issue" with one of Seven Seas Mariner's lifeboat winches delayed the cruise ship's arrival into Rome, Italy, yesterday morning (August 29).

The ship was due to leave the Florentine port of Livorno at 10 p.m. Wednesday, August 28, but problems completing routine maintenance to lifesaving equipment meant the ship was not cleared to leave port by Italian Coast Guard authorities until midnight. The subsequent delayed arrival into the disembarkation port of Civitavecchia (for Rome) caused disruption to onward travel for Mariner's passengers, according to the line.

A statement from the line said: "As a result of the delayed departure, the ship arrived into Civitavecchia, Italy [Thursday] at 9:15 a.m. For guests who booked their air arrangements through Regent Seven Seas Cruises, our Air Department worked closely with our airline partners to re-arrange flights if needed."

Regent arranged complimentary hotel rooms for passengers who had booked air travel through the line and were unable to find flights out of Rome Thursday. The passengers also received a $100 per person stipend for meals, according to the statement. The line did not offer compensation for passengers who had booked air travel separately.

According to the line, "For those guests who booked air through their travel agents, Seven Seas Mariner crew members provided assistance where possible and the ship provided free Internet in order to facilitate communication."

Posting on the Cruise Critic forums, member Bif reported problems with the line's response for passengers trying to rebook onward travel.

"This morning, and in particular for London bound passengers it was utter chaos amidst a vacuum in communication," Bif wrote.

He said rebooking was made more difficult when ship crew disabled internet connections: "Why was it that once we had been issued with take it or leave it alternative arrangements they saw fit to switch off the Internet connection which meant I stood no chance of fixing my connections at Heathrow. I did ask and was told that it was because the Cruise had ended. iT SURE HAD!! Another own goal I would suggest."

--by Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor