Egypt 5
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The Egyptian Poseidon Adventure

Chapter Five

Rick Archer's Note: I rearranged some of the chapters, so if you are clicking in to read Part II,
then I would suggest you start in Chapter 4 instead of Chapter 5.



For most of us, Sunday was divided into two parts.  Sunday Part I began at 2:15 am when "The Incident" took place.  Like 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.  

Sad 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 carpet.  Sad 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 situation.

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, Happy Meals?   Pictures like these left much of the world feeling ambivalent about the full refund/free future cruise offer. 

OHMYGOSH......For those splendor people that are angry and complaining because their luxury cruise vacation was interrupted.................SHAME ON YOU !!!

Things 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 !!!   Carol Larkins

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 happened.

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 board .

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 down!" 

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 bones).

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 afternoon.

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 passengers.

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.

However, it doesn't sound you guys had much damage.
(Cruise Critic)


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.

I 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.

However, I 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)

The Great Compensation Debate

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. 
If anything, in the eyes of the hardened veterans, our Refund Chasers were being seen back in the States as a big bunch of cry babies!  

Uh oh.  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 credit. 

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 response.  

"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 luck."

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 cabin.

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 bruise.

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 so painful!

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 doctor's visit.  

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.  She bitterly complained 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 ransom.

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 trip.  

Furthermore, the 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 temporarily or 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 offered 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, Patience was 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. 

Pretty 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?

So what really happened here?  Was it the sheer terror of the picture above or the absurd stupidity of the fallen table below?

Idle Hands are the Devil's Workshop.

Notice there aren't any drinks on that table.  That's because every available crew member was busy all day Sunday trying to make the ship serviceable again.  With little else to do, most people spent the day grumbling about the bizarre Listing incident.


Our Next Story: 
Chapter Six

"Liar!  Liar!" -
Mutiny on the
High Seas

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