Passengers who were embarking on the Celebrity Eclipse for their Alaska Cruise yesterday were in for a very unpleasant surprise as striking tugboat workers in Vancouver, Canada held the ship hostage.
Workers refueled the ship, then boxed it in with their barge and went home with nobody being available to remove the barge from it’s position, making the cruise lose an entire day.
The Celebrity Eclipse was forced to remain at the dock in Downtown Vancouver overnight until the next day, when they were able to leave in the morning rather than Sunday afternoon.
As reported by the Canadian Press, the ship with 2850 passengers capacity was stuck since Sunday:
Passengers on an Alaska cruise ship are stranded aboard the vessel in Vancouver, with the cruise line blaming job action by British Columbia tugboat workers.
Celebrity Cruises says the Celebrity Eclipse, which had been due to depart Sunday afternoon, is unable to leave the Port of Vancouver without the tugs and staff are “working diligently” with local authorities to resolve the situation so the ship can sail.
The cruise line says on its Twitter account that the ship is tied to a barge whose crew is refusing to move it and other tugboat workers are also unwilling to do so.
Celebrity Cruises’ social media accounts have been flooded with complaints from people saying they are trapped aboard the Eclipse.
The Canadian Merchant Service Guild began job action on all 30 Seaspan tugs in the province Thursday after it said contract negotiations reached an impasse.
Maybe Canada and the port workers would be better off if cruise lines stayed away from the ports (especially Vancouver) altogether and just started to sail from Seattle again. After the port closure in 2021 and the subsequent, temporary amendment to the Passenger Vessel Services Act by the U.S. Congress that allowed Alaska Cruises to circumvent Canada now the next blow to cruises with tugboat workers sabotaging the cruise lines. Canada has really become the wild west again where nothing is certain.
I booked my Alaska Cruise intentionally on the Solstice from Seattle rather than MIllennium/Eclipse from Vancouver as you never know what’s waiting for you there aside from the horrible immigration experience. Everything was smooth and went according to schedule.
Celebrity tweeted a status update yesterday morning when the ship was freed from the barge and was in preparations to get on the way:
— Celebrity Cruises (@CelebrityCruise) August 29, 2022
The ship was then on the way shortly but it likely missing Icey Strait Point which is really a huge loss for the passengers on this cruise, taking a highlight away from their itinerary.
The company (Seaspan) is one of only two operators that can fuel cruise ships, and there are just four tug boat operators. As the article mentions, they were already on strike since Thursday.
Apparently, Seaspan then contracted the duty to service the Eclipse out to a competitor, moving the fuel barge in place to refuel. Nevertheless, the workers for the competitor refused to move the fuel barge not to sabotage the strike of the Seaspan workers, which caused the barge to get stuck beside the Eclipse.
Boxing the Eclipse in then resulted in them being unable to leave port. You tell me if it’s this difficult to find someone able to operate the barge and move it away. There must be plenty of licensed captains around, including on the cruise ship itself.
The Eclipse didn’t have much luck this season, as even its second sailing from Vancouver was already canceled due to Barnacles on the ships hull:
Hopefully, someone from the contracted company where workers weren’t on strike and therefore not protected by strike laws gets fired over this but being Canada, that is hardly going to happen.
There isn’t a single time that I visit Vancouver when workers aren’t striking or picketing somewhere, shutting down operations, and inconveniencing guests. Last time it was hotel workers at the Hyatt and Rosewood, now it’s the cruise port. And if workers aren’t striking, the government is doing the rest. I lived nine years in Vancouver but the city and province has really gone downhill. Too bad!
Striking tug boat workers caused a mess in Vancouver as they boxed in the Celebrity Eclipse with a refueling barge and then went home. The cruise lost an entire day of its voyage and a highlight of the itinerary as they will likely miss Icy Strait.
It’s a disgrace that people who paid a fortune for their Alaska Cruise now have to deal with this situation. I can only urge cruisers to avoid the port of Vancouver where possible and book Alaska cruises out of Seattle or other West Coast destinations instead. Ships will still stop in Canada somewhere (usually Victoria), but it’s a much better experience.