Cruise Ship Departure Delayed After Passengers Stage 'Sit In' Protest

February 7, 2014

(8:45 a.m. EST) -- Passengers delayed the departure of a Costa Cruises ship on Wednesday, February 5 after staging a "sit in" to protest a cancelled shore excursion.

Around 300 angry cruisers refused to leave the 75,000-ton, 1,928-passenger Costa Victoria in Hong Kong at the end of their six-day trip, complaining they had not been offered sufficient compensation after a visit to Vietnam's Ha Long Bay was called off.

The protest lasted for 17 hours, delaying yesterday's (Thursday, February 6) scheduled departure of the fully booked Costa Victoria's next cruise to Malaysia. The South China Morning Post reported that police were called to Tsim Sha Tsui's Ocean Terminal to disperse the irate passengers.

Hong Kong-based tour company Miramar Travel accused the passengers of "hijacking" the ship, according to the news reports.

Trouble flared on Tuesday after the ship was unable to reach the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay due to a sunken barge blocking the entrance to the port. Following complaints, Miramar is said to have offered HK$340 ($43) in compensation to the 1,000 passengers booked on the excursion, plus an onboard credit of HK$387 ($50) per cabin.

A group of passengers claimed the compensation was inadequate and approximately 300 -- around 260 from Hong Kong and the rest from neighbouring Macau -- refused to disembark when the ship docked.

Costa Victoria was scheduled to sail on Thursday afternoon, but by 10.30 p.m. around 50 protestors were still onboard. The others accepted the compensation and left the ship.

The ship was able to sail at midnight after representatives from Miramar Travel and the Travel Industry Council Hong Kong persuaded the protestors to adjourn to a nearby hotel. It is not known whether an agreement was reached with the protestors, some of whom were reported to be demanding a refund for 30 percent of the price of the cruise.

Cruise Critic is still awaiting comment from Costa Cruises.

--by Jeannine Williamson, Cruise Critic Contributor