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Cruise ship sails for Alaska after overnight delay in Vancouver due to tugboat strike

Celebrity Cruises said the ship became stuck in the Port of Vancouver because it was attached to a barge whose crew was refusing to remove it.
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People stand on decks at the bow of the Celebrity Cruises vessel Celebrity Eclipse as it leaves port in Vancouver for a trip to Alaska, on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

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 whose crew was refusing to remove it.

Passenger Steve Bains said the captain announced just after midday Monday that the union and its 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.

The cruise line's social media accounts were filled with complaints from people, many of whom said they were stuck on the ship.

Laura Dietz was among those who voiced concerns on Twitter about the delay.

"Telling your stranded customers onboard the Eclipse in Vancouver that you’re doing everything you can 24 hours later isn’t good enough," she said in a tweet to the company Monday morning.

In a private message, she said her mother and stepfather, both in their 70s, were passengers on the boat. She said they had travelled from England and that their trip had been cancelled twice due to COVID-19.

"(They are) exhausted, trapped, frustrated and saddened that the trip has turned into this," she said in the message prior to the ship's departure.

Bains, who had boarded the ship with his wife around 1:30 p.m. Sunday, said people were frustrated with the lack of communication from staff Sunday night.

"We're stuck. In a sense, we're being held hostage," he said in an interview about two hours before departure.

"People are kind of resigned and are trying to make the most of it (but) the longer this goes on, I think it's getting more discouraging."

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 Seaspan tugs in the province Thursday after it said contract negotiations reached an impasse.

The Celebrity Eclipse has a capacity of 2,850 people, but the company has not said how many people are on board.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 29, 2022.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 29, 2022.