VANCOUVER — An Alaska-bound cruise ship set sail from Vancouver Monday after an almost daylong delay because of a tugboat strike sparked a flood of complaints from stranded passengers.
The Celebrity Eclipse had been scheduled to depart at 4 p.m. Sunday, but Celebrity Cruises said the ship became stuck in the Port of Vancouver because it was attached to a barge and tugboat workers were refusing to remove it.
Passenger Steve Bains said the captain announced just after midday Monday that workers had agreed to detach the ship from the barge, and later sent photos confirming the ship set sail around 12:45 p.m.
The cruise line said on its Twitter account that the ship will skip its trip to Icy Strait in Alaska, but will stick to the rest of the weeklong itinerary as planned.
It will also be issuing a “credit equal to the amount of 1.5 days” and that any excursions booked through the company for Icy Strait would be cancelled and refunded, it said.
“WE ARE AS FRUSTRATED AS YOU ARE”
An on-board announcement Monday morning from the ship’s captain said the Eclipse was expected to depart later that day, saying the job action was the cause for the delay.
“This is a most unusual and unfortunate situation and we are as frustrated as you are,” the captain said. “We will more regularly communicate with you to keep you fully informed on our progress.”
The announcement to passengers was made around 10:30 a.m. while The Canadian Press was speaking with someone on the ship.
The Canadian Merchant Service Guild began job action on all 30 tugs operated in the province by Seaspan, a Vancouver marine services company, on Thursday after it said contract negotiations reached an impasse.
Adam D’Agostino, a spokesperson for Seaspan, said it was unfortunate that its negotiations with the tugboat union had negatively impacted customers.
“Seaspan had made arrangements to minimize the impacts to our customers and the broader industry, and it was unfortunate that the job action by CMSG workers has caused other union workers to refuse work that has resulted in delays to vessels and, in some cases, passengers,” he said.
D’Agostino said the company had contracted the work to a separate tugboat company that had initially refused to unmoor the cruise ship from the barge.
“In the end, that company that we contracted the work out to got around to removing it,” he said.
The Celebrity Eclipse has a capacity of 2,850 people, but the company has not said how many people are on board.