THE SEEDS OF
For most of us, Sunday was divided into two
parts. Sunday Part I began at 2:15 am when
"The Incident" took place.
everyone else on the ship, I stayed awake for a
couple hours. Then I eventually went back to bed around 4 or 5 am to get some sleep.
When I re-awoke on Sunday at 9 am, I
used the rest of Sunday to
try to make sense of the early morning ordeal.
to say, the poor crew didn't have the luxury of going back to bed.
They spent the entire day working without sleep as they tackled the difficult task of cleaning up. It wasn't their fault the
ship nearly toppled over. However, they had no choice but to
work long overtime hours to remedy the big mess. Their
situation was a dark stain that was swept under the
to say, I don't think they got any extra compensation for their work
or any extra time off as a reward.
Sunday Part II seemed to go on forever. There was little else
for people to do during the daylight portion of Sunday except sit
around and discuss "The Incident".
Almost immediately I overheard people talking openly about demanding
a full refund for their cruise. One man responded that wasn't
going to happen unless the media picked up the story like it had
with the recent Splendor incident that had occurred
just weeks earlier.
As we sorted out our feelings, the Splendor incident
loomed in the background like a ghostly presence. The
Splendor incident was now irrevocably linked to our own
Aboard the Splendor, a fire in the engine room had
rendered the ship powerless. The ship was completely helpless;
it would need a tow to get back to shore. Fortunately, no one
aboard the Splendor was ever in the slightest bit of
danger. Nevertheless, the combination of long food lines,
potties that didn't flush, and no electricity made things very
uncomfortable for four long days. In addition, people soon
became bored out of their minds.
For their trouble, the passengers received a full refund PLUS a free
cruise in the future. My opinion at the time was someone had
been overly generous. A full refund yes and maybe some OBC
(onboard credit) for the next trip, but a free trip? A
lot of people agreed with me.
When incongruous pictures of smiling pretty girls were offered up as
proof of all the "Suffering" aboard the ship, there was huge
backlash over the passenger's good fortune!
In retrospect, maybe someone should
have told these people not to look so darn healthy and happy as they
got off the ship.
What did that ship,
like these left much of the world feeling ambivalent about the full
refund/free future cruise offer.
those splendor people that are angry and complaining because
their luxury cruise vacation was
interrupted.................SHAME ON YOU !!!
happen....so suck it up and make the best of
it..............consider it an adventure !!
So you have to "rough it" for a while.......big deal... just
think of the worse things that could have happened...........and
this certainly isn't one of them !!!
I've never taken a cruise, but I would have loved to of been on
this one !! Plus, you get your money back, plus a free cruise at
another time ????????
Some people are
just toooo pampered and uppity......if you don't want your FREE
ticket for another cruise, I'll gladly take it off your hands
The parallels between the Splendor's situation and our
own were close enough to make people on our ship wonder if they
could get similar compensation as well for our own "Suffering".
Meanwhile, modern technology quickly eliminated any possibility of
this incident going unnoticed by the outside world.
It is a modern marvel that cell phones can share pictures and text
with anyone in the world. Indeed, several of our media-savvy
passengers used Sunday morning to contact the media. They
downloaded pictures, videos plus "their own version" of what had
Needless to say, in their version of the event, our ship had barely
survived a real-life Poseidon Adventure during the
worst storm in recent times. In some highly embellished
accounts, we narrowly escaped becoming the worst cruise disaster
since the sinking of the Titanic. Thank goodness
we were close to the Holy Land because it took a miracle of Biblical
proportions to keep our ship from capsizing and killing everyone on
We were unbelievably
lucky to be alive!
Of course, it would have helped to have some evidence of just how
much danger we had been in. Instead, the media was given some
ridiculous pictures of the fallen Christmas tree, Styrofoam Santa
laying on his back, plus countless overturned chairs and fallen
plants as proof of our near-disaster. I am sure more than one
newscaster took one look at the pictures and burst out laughing...
off-camera of course.
One woman was contacted back by CNN and asked if anything in her
cabin was damaged. She emailed back, "OMG yes! All my
balcony furniture was swept overboard! And my TV set fell
Obviously the media was perplexed. Was this the greatest
survival story since the parting of the Red Seas or the greatest
hoax since the Loch Ness Monster?
Sensing the media's growing skepticism over how legitimate the
accounts were, the passengers spent the day scouring the ship for
evidence. To their dismay, they soon realized just how
superficial the damage really was. This wasn't going to be an
easy sell, was it?
Meanwhile, the ship did something interesting. On Sunday
afternoon, the ship
gave everyone free access to the Internet. I thought that was
an odd move. To be honest, maybe I should admit that due to my
own lack of fear during the incident, I felt like everyone around me
was overreacting to this "danger" angle. Since no one had been
hurt, why bother telling anyone?
Then someone explained to me that the media had decided to report at
least the factual elements of the story and that some people had
felt like they were in danger. The ship had offered free
Internet so the worried people back home could be calmed.
Okay, that made sense. It thought this was a nice gesture on
the ship's part, but it also seemed to backfire.
Yes, it was nice that everyone could email their friends on the
company's dime to let them know they were safe. But after
contacting their family, most people also used this
opportunity to contact lawyers and advisers. Surely they had a
case of some sort!
Furthermore, now dozens of people took advantage of the free service to email
more pictures, videos and tales of woe to all the major news outlets.
Thanks to the deluge of new information, by Sunday afternoon, every major news service had full knowledge of our
situation and began running stories.
The Cruise Line took one look at the initial reports and realized
that it had a major PR crisis on its hands. The Cruise Line
contacted the world media and offered a highly watered-down version
of the event.
The Cruise Line's position went like this:
Yes, something bad
happened... but no one got hurt (two people suffered broken
Yes, something bad
happened... but no one except the ship had suffered any
damage to their property.
Yes, something bad
happened... but no one was ever really in the danger.
The blame lay with the unpredictable
weather, not with the Captain.
Why should the company be
responsible for bad weather? If anything, the
Captain should be considered a hero for getting them out of
the harbor safely despite the hazardous conditions!
Of course, the cruise line didn't bother to explain what the ship
was doing in that situation to begin with. That lack of candor
would come back to haunt them.
Meanwhile, the passengers studied the cruise line's position in
hopes of positive vibes. Nope, no compensation tea leaves at
the moment. Too bad. There was no promise of
credit forthcoming any time soon. On the other hand, the idea
of compensation hadn't been ruled out either. Since no one had
any idea what the company intended to do, the Great
Compensation Debate raged like a wildfire throughout Sunday
For most of the day, people just sat around feeling sorry for
themselves. Not even coffee was available yet. The
ship's staff was too busy handling more serious problems to have the
time to take care of the pampered passengers. Left with little
to do, pockets of people sat around the table exchanging opinions
and discussing money. As they say, misery loves company.
However, not everyone was content to sit still. Several of the
passengers spent their day taking their case to the world. In
addition to exchanging text and email with the media, the free
Internet gave the passengers the chance to make their case with
fellow cruisers back home as well. There is a giant "Cruise
Community" that stays connected throughout the year using Internet
forums and chat rooms such as Cruise Critic. Our
passengers engaged these veteran cruisers in the debate.
After the trip was over, I studied some of the commentary on
Cruise Critic related to this trip. Guess what?
Most people back home were not in favor of giving refunds to our
Hmmmm....Is it just me? or did I
miss the part where it says cruise lines are responsible
to compensate guests because Mother Nature and The Big
Guy Upstairs throw a temper tantrum in the form of a
violent weather system storm? How is it that a cruise
line bears responsibility for an act of God?
however I fully agree that DAMAGES caused to the person
or his/her belongings are recoverable, to an extent,
through normal insurance channels, following such an
experience as those poor guests lived through, and
starting with the liability protection the cruise lines
are accountable for, when such damages occur on their
property, to guests under their hospitality.
it doesn't sound you guys had much damage.
You want Money? WHY?
Weather happens, especially in winter, the Med isn't the
tranquil lake of the brochures.
Sounds like the crew did a good job; chalk it up to
experience. (Cruise Critic)
Yes, weather does happen, however,
when you skip a port or miss something like Egypt on a
Med cruise, one would hope that maybe you could get a
discount on a future cruise or something like that.
But a full refund?
I know for us, we are scheduled on
the next cruise and Egypt is one of the highlights and
we would/will be extremely disappointed if we miss it.
also know that your ship is not in control of the weather,
and I agree that it looks like they did all they could
and were very attentive to customers.
doubt the cruise line is responsible for compensating
people for the sheer disappointment of missing a major
port due to weather. Everyone who cruises knows
when you miss a port due to weather, that's just tough
luck. (Cruise Critic)
Over at Cruise Critic, home of the world's most
experienced cruisers, no
one was feeling sorry for our passengers on the compensation issue.
Repeat - NO ONE!
The Refund Chasers were deeply stung by this apparent lack of outside
sympathy for their plight.
the eyes of the hardened veterans, our Refund Chasers were being seen back in the States as a big bunch of cry babies!
It was becoming increasingly obvious that very few people outside
the passengers on this ship believed they deserved any compensation.
Judging by which way the wind was blowing, getting a full refund on
this cruise was going to be a serious uphill struggle.
Marla and I listened to everyone's position while keeping our own
views to ourselves. Like everyone else, she and I had mixed
feelings about what was fair. It seemed to me the majority of
the passengers now realized their lives had never been in danger.
They were mostly just upset that they had completely missed Egypt.
That was their biggest complaint. You know what? I
completely agreed with them.
In addition to Egypt, I have been involved in three previous cruise
trips where there were disputes over compensation. We got
absolutely nothing for missing Cozumel and Cancun during our 2001
redirect over to Vera Cruz.
Something very similar to this Egypt trip happened on my 2006 New
England cruise. We had our time cut in half on two consecutive
ports due to a combination of choppy seas and serious cruise ship
mistakes. Martha's Vineyard and Acadia National Park had been
my whole reason for taking this trip! I felt so cheated.
The ship blamed the choppy seas, but they were nothing compared to
our Egyptian waves. It was obvious to everyone the real
culpability lay with the ship. Not only did they lack enough
tenders to do the job, the men operating the few tenders they had
didn't know what they were doing. Our lines stretched for
miles. Meanwhile passengers from another cruise line had no
wait at all! The comparison was revealing.
I was so furious with the cruise line at the time that I wrote the
single meanest article of my life in protest (Curse
of the Jewel).
I even demanded a personal meeting with the Hotel Director to
express my position on behalf of our SSQQ travel group. And
guess what I accomplished? Nothing. We didn't get
a single cent for our trouble. Not even a penny of on-board
Based on that experience, I figured the passengers on this ship
would suffer the exact same fate. So as it became very clear that certain passengers on
this Egyptian trip were in rabid
pursuit of a full refund, I quietly shook my head. No way,
Jose. Ain't gonna happen.
My friends Jess and Pat reminded me of another incident on our 2004
Mardi Gras Cruise. Two ships collided in the Mississippi River.
The river was closed to traffic while the wreckage was cleared and
rescue workers searched for the bodies of several crew members.
As a result, our ship was not allowed to go to New Orleans. We
had to dock in Gulfport, Mississippi, instead.
Boy, were we mad! The whole point of this trip was to use the
ship as a hop on hop off hotel for the weekend. Now through no
fault of our own, this was ripped away from us.
Unlike this Egyptian Trip or the New England Trip, this time when
something went wrong, the Captain offered to meet with everyone.
Many people showed up for the Captain's meeting to find out what the
cruise line was going to do for us. It was pretty ugly!
Jess and Pat left because they became so disgusted with the attitude
of the other passengers. Those people seemed to have lost sight of
the fact that several people lost their lives in this incident.
They were only concerned with their own inconvenience.
It worked out okay. The cruise line provided buses to take us
to New Orleans. This trip took only a little over an hour. We
were taken to the Cruise Terminal - the same location we would have
been at if we had docked in New Orleans - and we were provided with
extra food on the bus and at the terminal. They also
compensated us at the usual rate of $100 apiece.
As Pat pointed out, this was a real headache and a lot of extra
expense for Royal Caribbean. She never saw so many whiny, selfish
people in her life. The Captain was really brave to stand there and
take such abuse. Pat thought the Captain and the cruise line handled
the situation as well as could be expected under the circumstances.
I completely agree with Pat. Captain Charles Teige was indeed
magnificent in his ability to defuse people's tempers. How he
kept his cool under fire took some real guts.
Okay, based on my previous three experiences, only one trip refunded
$100 total. So as the Refund Chasers bragged about how they
were going to make the cruise line pay up, secretly I thought the
Refund Chasers were out of their mind.
By chance, I was privy to a fascinating communication that
reinforced my prediction. A friend of mine on the ship had a
son-in-law who just happened to be a lawyer. Not only that, he
was a prominent
business associate of Donald Trump. If anyone could assess the
repercussions of this business problem accurately, this highly
skilled lawyer/businessman would be the one.
On Sunday, my friend took advantage of the free Internet to email
this man for an opinion on the chances of a
refund. My friend was very disappointed with the
"I ran your
story past another lawyer plus a PR expert in the firm. Sorry, but
a little discomfort for a day isn't news. The
sentiment from this end is no one got hurt, the ship is sailing,
and everyone is safe. No victims and no damage = no harm,
no foul. You don't have a legal case plus this story is a likely non-starter in the media.
I know you want a full refund, but
unless you can find some blood or broken bones to improve your
case, I think you guys are out of
Don't tell anyone, but those were my exact sentiments on Sunday.
I completely agreed with that email response.
No harm, no foul.
As this awful day wore on, people honed their compensation
arguments. People frequently brought up the issue of "Danger".
No one had the slightest idea
how much "real danger" we had been in, but most people
assumed we had definitely been put in harm's way.
There had been some really scared people on that
ship. As I wandered around the ship, I noticed one woman sitting in
the lobby with her teenage daughter beside her. Both of them had
their life vests around their neck.
The kid didn't look too worried,
but the mother was crying and very shaken.
She absolutely refused to go back to the
Was it possible to
demand compensation for getting scared? The people with
the law background said no.
Just how much danger had we been in?
Probably no danger at all from capsizing.
As I said earlier, I could not find one example of a cruise ship toppling over
due strictly to weather-related causes. Repeat
- NOT ONE.
Therefore I concluded the only real danger of our incident was
being struck by a flying object or suffering an injury while
falling. However, no one had the slightest
The second reason people listed as a reason for compensation was
missing their Egypt destination. As I thought back to my
three previous experiences - especially in New England - I had
a feeling they were out of luck on this argument as well.
The third and final argument revolved around their discomfort on
Sunday. After all, the people on the Splendor
had been uncomfortable and look what it did for them!
Not only had the ship ruined their trip of a lifetime, they
claimed they had almost been killed in the
process. And now the ship could not even feed or entertain them
properly to boot!
We live in a strange world these days. There are some people
who want to
be compensated for every single bump and bruise. The
lawyers don't help a bit - they run ads on TV constantly that
promise every person huge settlements.
Back when I ran my SSQQ dance studio, I once had a woman slip on her way
into the dance studio and fall. Two hundred other people had
successfully entered that same night through the
same door without falling, but that logic was lost on
her. Instead she blamed her fall on poor lighting, slick floor,
failure to post a sign about the one inch gap between the ramp and
the door, you name it. Thanks to my alleged
negligence, she had twisted her
ankle and hurt her hip so badly!! The bruise on
her hip and the swelling on her ankle were
This woman made my life miserable with emails for two weeks complete
with nasty threats of a lawsuit. I once had to spend $5,000
hiring a lawyer to fight another equally absurd lawsuit, so I
anticipated the cost
of fighting this woman in court would be just as painful. Therefore
I threw in the towel and sent her a check for $300 to pay for her
I did it just to shut her up. It worked, but it also felt like highway robbery. Let me assure you that
incident left a bitter taste. Don't get me started on our stupid
legal system that has made it so easy to file
frivolous lawsuits. Even if you win
the argument, you still pay through the nose to defend yourself.
Nobody wins but the lawyers. What an awful system!
And now a wealthy cruise line was faced with 2,000 passengers
who had a
far bigger beef than some halfwit slipping on a dance floor…. What a
predicament for the ship to be in!!
Unfortunately for the cruise line, there exists an attitude among
some cruisers that every trip should be perfect or else they will
complain. This group is in the minority, but I assure you of their
existence. These shrewd people have learned that if they complain
loud enough and long enough, the ship usually caves in and tries to
satisfy them in some way.
Making matters worse, the Internet provides public forums
like Cruise Critic where frequent cruisers
can compare notes. They read accounts of previous cruisers who brag
online about their
successful shakedowns. That knowledge comes
in handy. Experienced cruisers
know exactly what buttons to push to get what they want.
Some of them even make a game of it.
Whenever they win, they brag to other cruisers about
their successful arm-twisting. That is how I learned that one woman
once got a $500
credit. The view from her Oceanview cabin was blocked by a pole
while the woman next to her had an unobstructed view.
to the company. It took a while, but she
eventually received compensation in the
form of OBC (On-board credit) for her next cruise.
That is a perfect example
of what I am talking about. All cruise lines constantly deal with problems like this.
They figure the cost of satisfying the customer is worth paying the
Now this bizarre rocking incident had left the cruise ship in a
precarious position. Whether they were hurt or not, people had
definitely been scared out of their wits. Even worse, they had been
deprived of their visit to Egypt,
the overwhelming reason for coming on this
day at sea which followed
the early morning incident was miserable for all of us.
Thanks to all the damage incurred, many of the services
the passengers had paid for had either been
permanently suspended. The crew was too busy all
day long cleaning up the mess to attend to the
passenger's whims. One person actually had the nerve to
complain no one had made their bed all day long!
So much hardship!! There
were no elevators, no Solarium, no spa, no exercise room, no casino,
no shows, no dance floors, no one playing any music, no activities…
the list of deprivation went on and on. Even worse, these
poor victims had to stand in long lines
to wait for their food and - get this - they had to serve themselves
all day long! Worst of all, for a while
there, they couldn't even get any booze. They had to face
their boredom cold sober!
With a huge sigh, one lady groaned if they had just
Bingo, she might have been able to keep her sanity. I looked at her
carefully to see if she was kidding (a sense of humor was an
invaluable gift on this long day), but I could see she was
completely serious. Get a grip!
Fortunately most people did their best to handle their emotions or
things would have really gotten out of hand. But as the day wore on,
I could see everyone's spirits fading.
Considering how badly everyone had been scared, considering no one
got a decent wink of sleep, considering that the constant rocking of the
boat made some people seasick and caused
others to stumble, it
added up to a situation where people were exhausted and getting
pretty grumpy. By the end of the day,
in short supply.
Believe it or not, on the previous trip, this
same poor ship had been
struck by Norovirus, the notorious Disease of the Seas. 40 people
had gotten sick. Fortunately, no one on this trip that I know of got
a case of Norovirus, but the disease of the body was replaced by
a disease of the spirit - a
veritable Plague of Whining
descended upon everyone. No one was
immune. In our weakened mental state, the whining was contagious.
soon, the entire ship was infected! A
Plague of ship-wide misery was upon us. And yes, to answer
your question, as we headed towards Malta on the unhappiest ship in
modern history, it was a plague of Biblical proportions.
What else would you expect on a cruise to Egypt?