Celebrity Century’s October 13th sailing ground to a halt
after divers discovered damage to the rudders.
Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises
In the wake of widespread criticism over their handling of a rudder malfunction that left Celebrity Century unable to continue a 12-night Mediterranean voyage just days after it began, Celebrity Cruises announced yesterday that it was increasing compensation offered to affected passengers on the aborted sailing.
In addition to the original compensation – which included a full refund of the cruise itself, plus a twenty-five percent future cruise credit – the line now says it will compensate passengers, in full, for flights which were purchased on their own in order to get home.  Additionally, the line will also offer $100 per passenger to cover “additional costs” that passengers “may have incurred.”
The about-face comes after the line came under fire from passengers and industry analysts alike for its handling of repatriation of guests on the affected sailing which departed Barcelona on October 13th.  Two days later, passengers were informed their cruise was canceled after divers in Villefranche, France discovered issues with the ship’s dual rudders.
There is still no word on what those issues were, or when and how they were incurred.
According to passengers on several CruiseCritic threads, passengers and crew alike were caught in the crossfire as the line struggled to make decisions about what to do with so many guests.  While the situation was certainly out of the ordinary, this incident demonstrated the lack of any sort of contingency plan to deal with an unexpected, large-scale disembarkation.  
Instead, passengers seem to have been left largely to fend for themselves to make flight or hotel arrangements halfway around the world, with a time-change, language barrier, and massive local strikes in France in their way.  
Complicating matters?  Many passengers either lacked travel insurance, or had extreme difficulty contacting their North America-based travel agent.  Flights in and out of the region were going for a breathtaking premium, and many passengers opted for the 10-hour bus transfer back to Barcelona, hoping for better results out of Spain.
While the steps Celebrity has taken yesterday are laudable and will help to ease the financial burden felt by many of its stranded passengers, we can only hope the gesture isn’t too little, too late.

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