The cruise industry really seems to be its own worst enemy sometimes and Celebrity Cruises is once again a shining example of that as the company just had to cancel an additional cruise for the Celebrity Eclipse.
This time the reason for the cancellations is rather exotic as sea life has attached itself to the hull of the ship while the Eclipse was just lingering around and it has accumulated so much that it’s now dragging the vessel, forcing it to a slower speed.
In addition to that, the ship isn’t allowed to sail into many of the sensitive ecosystems in upper Alaska bringing with it sea life from the south such as California and Mexico where the ship has been floating around, doing nothing for past months.
Celebrity noticed this problem just now – one week before the Eclipse is supposed to start its Alaska season from Vancouver. The Pacific Coastal sailing the Eclipse was supposed to kick off the season with has also been cancelled since early January (I was booked on that one). And now this.
The email sent to booked guests reads:
Due to recent marine growth that has developed on the ship’s hull (a natural process that you might know as barnacle growth), and our commitment to following local environmental procedures we are putting Celebrity Eclipse into a dry dock for 7 days in order to safely and responsibly clean the hull. …
What Celebrity is now doing is that the ECLIPSE will sail with a modified itinerary on May 15th out of Vancouver as planned but due to the lower speed all ports of call are going to have modified (shorter) stays:
The ship is experiencing lower speeds than typical, and we have to adjust for this in our ports of call timings. This will result in shorter time spent in all ports of call. many of our shore excursions have been affected and either changed time frames or been canceled.
All affected guests will receive a $100 onboard credit on their ship accounts to compensate for the dramatically reduced port time which in some cases such as Sitka has been cut by more than half.
Guests now face the following:
- Tue, 5/17 – Sitka – New port times: 2:15pm – 6 pm [previously 11 am to 8:30 pm]
- Wed, 5/18 – Hubbard Glacier – New times: 11:30 am to 2 pm [previously 9:30 am to 2:30 pm]
- Thu, 5/19 – Juneau – New port times: 9 am to 6:30 pm [previously 7:30am to 8 pm]
- Fri, 5/20 – Ketchikan – New port times: 2-5 p.m. [previously 2:00pm-8:30 pm]
The Sitka port modification is really bad. Hubbard Glacier is also sad to see it cut that much. Juneau and Ketchikan… well I guess not much loss there but it eats into the excursion schedule.
The second cruise however that was supposed to be on May 22nd will be canceled and Eclipse moved to dry dock. Bummer!
When talking about Barnacles, most have seen them attached to rocks on the shore but they form on marine vessels as well:
They can actually form rather quickly but a ship that it sitting idle is like a magnet for them to come in huge numbers and these things are heavy. If you’d chop the ones seen in this picture into a bowl and weigh them that’s already quite a bit. Now scale that up to the size of a cruise ship.
Of course one has to wonder why this is coming as a surprise to an experienced cruise line. When a ship doesn’t move much as the Eclipse didn’t for a long time then this process is a natural consequence. The Eclipse should have been monitored for that a long time ago and respective measures taken.
I’m currently on the Celebrity Solstice and spoke to the Hotel Director yesterday when this topic came up. He mentioned that Solstice actually had just completed a dry dock and this exact procedure plus a hull painting was performed after Solstice had been out of commission for almost two years, although it did move around a little bit and even performed its first voyage to Hawaii recently.
It begs the question why this hasn’t been followed up on earlier just as Solstice did? Sounds like complete negligence on part of Celebrity. The company should know better then just let something like this happen willy-nilly.
Customers and travel agents have been informed that there will be modifications to the first two Celebrity Solstice Alaska sailings out of Vancouver with the first one on May 15th having a modified itinerary as far as port times are concerned and the second sailing will be cancelled entirely as the ship is moved to dry dock. Assuming there won’t be any further issues Eclipse will then continue the Alaska season as scheduled.
For some reason I have the impression that Celebrity is focusing too much attention on launching their new fancy ship with lots of PR fanfare but isn’t paying much attention to their existing ships. The Solstice I’m currently on also had months to be made seaworthy yet the first thing I discovered in my Aqua Class cabin was a broken shower unit in the bathroom.