The QM2 left on a 38-day voyage around South America, which ends in Los Angeles on February 22, 2006. Some passengers were boarding at Ft Launderdale. Some passengers from NYC and FL were getting off in Rio, where other passengers were getting on.The trip includes 2,500 passengers.
She pulled into Fort Lauderdale the morning of January 17 to pick up the additional passengers. Around 1 pm they left Fort Lauderdale. Just out of the harbor the ship hit a sea wall and damaged one of the engines. The ship turned around and limped back into harbor.
January 19, still in port, the captain announced the ship will finish decommissioning the damaged engine around midnight and the voyage will continue with the ship using three engines instead of four. The word 'compensation' is used in the announcement.
At 3 am the fuel pumping operation was still ongoing, with the sailing time missed. Passengers above the engine work, complain it is so loud they can't sleep. Around 6:30am on January 19, the ship is underway, using only 3 engines. No mention of missed ports of call has been made at this time. Later January 19, after the ship is underway, the announcement is made that ports of call will be missed. St. Kitts, Barbados and Salvador de Bahia have been cancelled. The QM2 heads straight to Rio, non-stop.Some passengers become angry as they had planned to meet relatives at the destinations and had already paid for hotels and sight-seeing trips.
January 20 the first details of compensation are mentioned. passengers on the NYC - Rio trip have been offered a 50% refund after the cost of flights have been deducted from individual paid fares. Passengers on 24 or 38 day cruises have been offered a 6 day pro-rata refund after deducting flight costs. The first two days are viewed as full value NYC to FL. The following 9 days to Rio are the days compensation is offered.
Some passengers become enraged, when they find out the Captain knew the ports of call would be missed, and the ship was going to sail straight to Rio, before the ship left Ft Lauderdale, and that the passengers were not given an option at that point to get off the cruise. A meeting held by the captain to discuss the problem, became hostile.
Passengers boarding at Ft Lauderdale, boarded the vessel, and were not told at that time the ship would not have any ports of call. The complaint begins about 9 days being too long to be at sea without stops, and half the fun of the trip is the exotic ports of calls.
January 20, by the end of the evening, the atmosphere on the ship had become very tense, after the meeting. Passengers discuss the feeling they were kidnapped, taken against their will to Rio non-stop, not given the option to disembark in Florida. One passenger describes the mood as "lot of discontent and anger", but not Mutiny. It was reported January 20 by some media outlets, that passengers were refusing to get off the ship at Rio, effectively committing a passenger mutiny, at a second meeting with the commadore yesterday. Some passengers said they were not going to get off the ship in Rio if they don't get all their money back. An agreement by some passengers was made not to spend any money on the ship. One passenger complained that she could not get off the ship in FL . She said her grandmother had died and she wanted to get off and they would not let her get off.
The Captain quotes the 1917 Jones Act as reason the passengers from NYC couldn't get off the ship in FL. The Jones Act prohibits non-u.s. registered vessels from sailing only from between two U.S cities, without a hefty fine. Rather than pay the fine, and do the right thing, giving passengers the option to not sail for 9 straight days, they held the passengers captive, on nothing more than a ferry trip to Rio. The captain further states, "We have 1,000 passengers being picked up at Rio, and it's essential we arrive on time."
A sign up sheet was passed around so passengers could do a class action suit later.
January 27, the cruise line said it will fully refund more than 2,500 enraged passengers. The mutiny was avoided. But, since passengers had losses for reservations at port of calls, that particuar part of the issue still needs to be resolved, and may go to class action.
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