Egypt 6
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The Egyptian Poseidon Adventure

Chapter Six


The Big Mistake

When I awoke the following day on Monday, December 13, I began my morning ritual of going to the Windjammer to fetch coffee for Marla and myself.  Here at home, Marla brings me coffee every morningOur tradition is that I get to return the favor at sea.  Typically I think I get the better end of the deal, but not today.

Since the elevators were still out of action thanks to constant rocking of the ship, I was forced to climb 7 flights of stairs. The seas were still really nasty, so keeping my balance and carrying two cups of coffee without spilling took serious effort. By the time I returned to the cabin, I was really huffing and puffing.

I noticed a bulletin from the ship had been slipped under the door. It said that each cabin had been given $200 credit for our troubles.  If the cabin had 2 people, that was $100 per person.

When I showed the paper to Marla, she doubted we would receive any of this money due to our odd status as dance teachers (she was right). Then Marla shook her head in puzzlement. $100 didn't seem right for a situation that had put us all in danger. Marla predicted many of the passengers would be up in arms at this figure.  

Before I continue, let me explain that money was never an issue for us. We were in the odd situation of being part-staff and part-passenger. We had been hired by an outside agency to teach the dance lessons aboard the ship. In return, we paid the agency an administrative fee for the privilege.  This meant we weren't cruising for free, but on the other hand we paid far less than the regular passengers.  Considering how much fun we had teaching the lessons, we were quite content with the arrangement.  It was more than fair.

However, due to this peculiar arrangement, the ship did not owe us single penny. That meant in the coming disagreements, Marla and I were strictly neutral.  Therefore we just sat back and watched the coming fight with dispassion.

Marla was right.  At breakfast (which I skipped), no one we spoke with was even remotely satisfied with the amount.

Very few people stuck up for the cruise line on this $100 OBC issue.  Here is the only comment I found on the Internet where a passenger indicated the settlement was good enough for them.

We have been given $200 per cabin. There are people right here in the computer area writing a letter to say it's not enough.  They are mad that they had to line up for breakfast and lunch.  Whatever. I will not comment on the compensation. But I give credit where credit is due.

The staff has gone without sleep to clean the ship and keep us fed. Venues are being reopened. The Casino is up, and everyone was in the Schooner Bar tonight having a good time. I am trying to make lemonade out of lemons here.

Between the weather in England connecting there, to strikes in Spain, to the storm in the Med - this has been a cruise to remember.

But, I am still having a good time, and enjoying meeting my fellow cruisers. We are all safe; no one was seriously injured. I'm not going to write a letter of complaint just because I had to line up for breakfast.  (Cruise Critic)

The majority of passengers had a much different attitude.

I would have to agree that $200 per cabin is not enough based on the circumstances. DH and I had a cabin/suite on a cheap 4 night cruise that had a mildew smell.
A mildew smell. We just mentioned the fact on the comment card at the end of the cruise. A couple of weeks later we received a $150 future cruise credit each for DH and myself - for a total of $300 for the cabin. And, I say again, it was a mildew smell.  We were never in fear of our lives!

We were very impressed with the ship's response to the situation given that we certainly asked for nothing.

But this sort of event was much more impacting on the cruisers who experienced the situation so - in fairness - I think they deserve more than $200 per cabin OBC. Others may agree or disagree. (Cruise Critic)

Meanwhile people back in the States began to add their own comments.

I think that in your case the elimination of the smell was the ship's responsibility and you should have received some compensation. However, if last night's situation was due to an act of God then IMO $200 for every cabin on the ship seems very generous.

But if due to human error, then not enough. (Cruise Critic)

Yesterday's initial position of the cruise line was that the ship had done little wrong, but here is a hundred bucks for all the discomfort.  The moment I saw the letter, I had a hunch someone had made a big mistake.  That $200 per cabin offer on Monday morning changed everything because IT OPENED THE DOOR. 

For starters, it felt to me like hush money... but no one shuts up for that amount.   Second, it established the cruise line felt compelled to offer compensation.  Big mistake.  Oh my gosh, now the sharks smelled blood!  This $100 stirred them into a frenzy!  If they will offer $100, how much more will they offer?  

I am basically a company loyalist.  Nevertheless, even to me that number seemed low.  I thought the ship had made a mistake offering so little money.  On the other hand, I didn't think a full refund was called for either.  I would have expected something in the middle of the two extremes.  The number in my mind was $300 to $500 per person.  I think if the company had offered something closer to that range, Sunday's anger would have subsided and prevented any sort of backlash on Monday.

Sure enough, as the events on Monday developed, the low-ball offer turned out to be a big mistake.  Marla and I got an amazing first-hand education at how the American Revolution must have started.  People assembled everywhere to grumble.  Minute by minute, slowly but surely, anger grew.  All they needed was a leader for this to turn into outright rebellion.

From our catbird seat, Marla and I watched the rising tide of anger with an odd mixture of horror and amusement.  Both of us have studied the business side of the cruise industry for ten years.  I was rooting for the cruise line to hang in there long enough for the mood to change, but that wasn't happening. Defusing the growing anger would be no easy task.

As the tension mounted throughout the ship on Monday morning, we both tried to predict how the company would balance this growing resentment against an understandable desire to minimize their losses.  To our consternation, Marla and I both realized we had no idea how the company would react to this rising tide of anger.

Give Me Compensation or Give Me Death!

The $100 offer sent seismic ripples throughout the ship.  Left with nothing to do, people began to compare notes. They speculated on what had gone wrong, how serious the danger had been, and how miserable they were in a world without Bingo or Booze.  It was the perfect breeding ground for discontent.

The prevailing attitude among the passengers was this "Incident" had not been their fault and they didn't appreciate being expected to suffer for it in return for this pathetic little pittance. Their lives had been put at risk, they had missed out on the only reason they were here in the first place, they couldn't go outside, and they were miserable being cooped up all day long with nothing to do.  

They had nothing else to do but be miserable, so they complained to fill the vacuum.  Soon enough, the crescendo of whining rose to a fever pitch throughout the ship. 

The ship had
offered them $100 credit to make them all feel better. Sad to say, but that gesture completely backfired. This low-ball offer served to infuriate many people. Considering what they had been through, this paltry sum seemed ridiculous. They were insulted by it. Their outrage only served to make things much worse.

The passengers said they were miserable, their lives had been put in danger, they had wasted thousands of dollars on a busted effort to see Egypt, and none of this was their fault!!  

If one woman could get $150 for mildew and another woman could get $500 for a pole that blocked her view, what could they get for a completely ruined cruise that had nearly killed them and had taken away their favorite port?

This stupid lousy hundred dollars just ain't gonna cut it!!!!

It took about two hours to repair each hole.

There are two holes here - one you can see and one hidden by the leaning man.  I have a picture of the missing hole.  See below

Same spot.  Here is what it looked like after the repair was finished. Impressive!


Game Changer - The Media Arrives!

At early lunch on Monday morning, I learned that the major news outlets like CNN, FOX and MSNBC had decided to upgrade their coverage from mere mention-status to "Splendor-status".  I was incredulous.  That showed how much I know!  I had predicted the media coverage would laugh at the overturned chairs and move on.  Wrong.  To my complete and utter surprise, our story had just become a world-wide sensation.  

The biggest storm to hit the Eastern Mediterranean in years had an interesting new angle.

It wasn't just foreigners like Egyptians and Israelis who had suffered in this storm.  Now the media had English-speaking victims to worry about.  Oh boy!  Even better, in addition to the Americans, British, and Canadians, there were Germans, Spaniards, French, Japanese and countless others who had just barely escaped a terrifying brush with death!   Now the media of every country in the world had a personal angle to work with.

In retrospect, I think our "Incident" benefitted greatly from its Splendor Doppelganger.  The entire world had followed the travails of the powerless Splendor cruise ship just one month earlier.  The media had quickly noticed an uncommon interest in those passengers stranded at sea.  People throughout the world expressed their concern over the poor victims forced to survive on Spam and Raisin Bran. 

Now, thanks to the momentum generated by the Splendor story, the media saw our own incident as a great stroke of fortune.  The media was tickled pink to receive yet another story of beleaguered cruisers.  They were more than happy to link our two together.  Even better, this time it wasn't a bunch of potties that wouldn't flush, but rather the jackpot of all stories - a narrow brush with death!   Yes, they had bought the embellishment strategy...

If the media had their way, this Listing incident would become the next awesome cruise disaster sensation.  Pretty soon people trapped on floating beds at sea would seem just as scary as Chilean miners trapped below the earth!  Better yet, they were American victims!

Sure enough, the media had a field day with our story. Instantly the fallen Christmas tree and the helpless Santa lying on the floor in the lobby became the International Symbols of our Harrowing Ordeal.  Oh, Poor Santa.  Oh, Poor Christmas Tree.  Oh, Poor Passengers.  The media put it out there and, sure enough, the world was more than happy to gasp in horror. 

You have no idea how pleased some of our passengers were at this development.  For the refund chasers, this was a dream come true.  Thanks to the international media feeding frenzy, they had a powerful new ally on their side - the horrid threat of BAD PUBLICITY!!

Now that they knew the world was watching, the Refund Chasers felt empowered to seek the Holy Grail of all Cruise Trips - a Full Refund!  Their secret weapon had just arrived. 

It no longer mattered that they continued to lose the Great Compensation Debate

I thing the ship has done a great job in offering 200 Dollars on board credit.

THEY did not force the storm to come up. Does nobody read their contracts- in such circumstances they are not in duty to give anything. Missing Alexandria is a bummer- of course- after all nobody got hurt badly, isnīt that more important. After all this a S H I P , this is something that floats on water- should someone have forgotten that!

For me it is unbelievable that some asked for more money back- if I would be in customer service there, they would get a nice piece of my mind!  Some people really should take a good look at themselves!  (Cruise Critic)

It no longer mattered that the veteran cruisers considered them the biggest bunch of babies to ever sail the Seven Seas.  All that mattered was that the Networks made money by advertising the plight of victims.  The Refund Chasers had just become the International Victims of the day.





The Rabble Rousers

Every Revolution needs a spark.  In the case of the Great Compensation Debate, the spark came from a husband and wife team.  Since I have no desire to get sued again, I will use pseudonyms to refer to our firebrands.  Also keep in mind I was not there at the start of the insurrection.  Therefore I cannot guarantee my story is completely accurate. 

Billy and Susan were the Rabble Rousers who got the ball rolling on Monday.  Susan did a very clever thing.  She wrote an email to the ship's cruisers, then emailed it to herself.  Then, using the printer provided by the ship in the Internet Cafe, Susan printed out a hundred or so leaflets.

Dear Fellow Cruisers,

The idea that $200 per cabin will cover what we have missed on the cruise is wrong.  The biggest part of this trip was 2 days in Egypt and that was what we will never get back. 

What might be acceptable now is a credit for a future cruise or a refund.  If they gave $200 upfront it is because there is more to the story than just bad weather.  The error was poor judgment in bad weather & the almighty dollar.

For a bigger refund please contact the company in Miami.  They will not listen unless there are enough complaints.  Please contact them.

Billy and Susan began their campaign up in the Schooner Lounge, a popular gathering spot on the ship.  Susan and Billy passed out the leaflets to anyone who showed interest in their "Full Refund" platform... which was quite a few people.  Tapping into a huge pool of anger, it didn't take long before Billy and Susan had an entire group in complete agreement with them. 

At some point, the group decided to take their protest down to the Front Desk in the Lobby.  That seemed like the logical place since people go there to handle problems. 

I heard differing accounts as to what happened next.  I believe Susan approached someone at the Front Desk.  While her group looked on, Susan made her case for a full refund.

I was told that as a group, they began to chant "Call Them, Call Them, Call Them".  This chant was meant to encourage someone to call the Front Office in Miami and tell them to increase their offer.  This chanting was all done in public.  A mean argument ensued.  Soon enough the scene became bitter.  Now Susan was asked to step inside to ease the rancor.

Susan followed the Hotel Director into a small office out of sight of the group.  Rumor has it that Susan threatened to find reporters in Malta and personally tell them every nasty thing she could think of about the Captain's incompetence.  Then she would add how badly the passengers had been treated by the company for good measure.

Rumor has it that the Hotel Director threatened to have Susan confined to her room under house arrest till they reached Malta for leading an insurrection.  Then she would be thrown off the ship in Malta for inciting the passengers.  Susan responded that they wouldn't dare.

Somehow, news that things weren't going well for Sue reached the group.  In support, the group began to chant "Susan Susan Susan". As they hoped, the noise attracted other passengers like a magnet.  The strength of this organized show of support was growing rapidly. 

So the Hotel Director decided to hold an impromptu town meeting in the Lobby.   Rather than deal with one woman, he would take his case to the masses. 


Mutiny on the Bounty

Marla and I were on Level 6 when we first heard the shouting.  We had just finished teaching one of our dance classes.  Curious, we followed the noise.  We got to the railing and looked down.  To our astonishment, there was a nasty public argument in full swing two levels below down in the Lobby.  We weren't the only ones attracted to the noise.  As if by magic, suddenly every railing on every level began to fill with onlookers.  I estimate half of the passengers on ship were now in attendance.  

We were greeted by the ugly sounds of "Liar! Liar! Liar!" aimed at the Hotel Director.

Amazingly, someone recorded the entire confrontation.  If you are curious, a brief clip can be viewed at MSNBC  (no guarantee as to how long the clip will stay posted)

Typically a cruise ship is a model of manners and decorum.  Not today.  No polite discussion for these people.  This was mob rule.  I was shocked by the strength of the crowd's anger.  I was witnessing a full-scale rebellion!

To his credit, the Hotel Director decided to take them head on.  He was right there in the middle of the lobby where everyone could observe. The Director had three advantages. He had a microphone.  Even better, he had a dozen uniformed security officers posted around him in strategic positions.  Best of all, thanks to metal detectors, the passengers were unarmed.  Given how mad they were, that was probably a good thing.

Those officers looked pretty nervous.  I didn't blame them a bit.  When the meeting in the Lobby began, the passenger number had been manageable.  But that changed in a hurry as word of the public confrontation spread like wildfire.

Suddenly the Lobby filled to capacity. When there was no more room down there, people went to the higher levels to look down like Marla and I did. I estimate close to 1,000 people were now watching the confrontation.  It was an amazing sight!

The group on the floor confronted the Hotel Director with angry words.  They shouted at the Director while he was speaking and said some pretty ugly things. The Director was clearly rattled. He asked people to give him the chance to finish before interrupting him.  But it didn't do him much good.  People would quiet down only to interrupt him again 30 seconds later.  They challenged everything he said.

It was a scary scene to behold.  I couldn't hear the exact words being so far away, but I could hear the savagery in their voices.  I shuddered in disgust.  The shouting made it clear just how angry these people were. 

With all their new buddies behind them, the leaders were emboldened to say some very hurtful things about how the Captain had nearly killed every one of them and what a bunch of uncaring cheapskates the management was.

One shout that I was able to overhear was a woman who screamed at the top of her voice, "I can't wait to talk to every G---D reporter I can find in Malta!!!"

At that point, everyone around her began to chant "Malta!  Malta!  Malta!"

In my opinion, that was probably the most persuasive thing said all day.  We all knew that the media was waiting on the island of Malta to greet the ship tomorrow.  The threat of having every passenger on the ship badmouthing the Captain and the company to the entire world was powerful leverage indeed. 

After 15 minutes of nasty public arguing, the Director said he would talk to Miami Management some more and get back to them. At this point, the crowd dispersed.

I was relieved. That was the angriest crowd I had ever seen in my life. This mob was even nastier than some of the war protests I witnessed back in college.  I was actually frightened by the heat and belligerence of the people.  I couldn't believe they had spoken with such rudeness to a man who was badly out-numbered.   The Hotel Director showed real guts to hang in there amidst the brutal attack.  He was trying to engage them in a civil conversation, but it was useless.  Their screaming overwhelmed his attempt to create a dialogue.  When it was all over, he looked beaten.  It could not have been easy to stand up to a Mob.  In fact, I imagine it was downright terrifying.

By coincidence, I passed the Director on the stairs about an hour later. I told him to hang in there. I reminded him that not everyone felt the way the mob did. He smiled and said he appreciated the encouragement. I added I meant what I said.  I said his courage had calmed everyone down. 

About seven hours later, the Captain spoke over the intercom to announce that every passenger would get this cruise for free.  The cheers were deafening.  The mob had gotten their way.  The passenger revolt led by Billy and Susan had succeeded. 

Barracuda Billy

As an aside to this story, I actually met Billy and Susan after the trip was over. They were on the same flight out of Barcelona.  As we sat in the airport waiting area for hours on end, I had a chance to get to know them.  As I listened to their side of the story, I found myself in agreement with many of their points.

Billy brought up the issue of the high winds that had "surprised" the Captain.  Marla had seen the TV list winds in the 80s, significantly higher than the Captain initially claimed.  As it turned out, someone had the brilliant idea to photograph the TV stating "75 mph".

Then Billy reminded that the waves were so high they reached as high as Deck 10.  This was the truth.  Marla saw a wave that reached up to Windjammer on Deck 11.  If the passengers could see how high the waves were, why did the Captain act so surprised?

The Captain didn't do himself any favors.  One of his written statements said "We experienced extreme wind and sea conditions, beyond what was forecasted."

Another written statement said "In fact, we experienced winds in excess of 70 knots (80 mph), which was nearly double what was forecasted."

Okay, Billy said, so the Captain was surprised.  So why didn't he turn around sooner?  Instead he kept us going straight into the teeth of the storm almost to the point of crashing into other ships. 

Why did he take us in there to begin with?   It seemed ludicrous that the ship had magically found itself in the middle of hurricane.  Didn't these people have instruments?  Or better yet, didn't they have eyes? 

Billy said that he had gone ahead and organized the group when he did because he knew the media was waiting for us just around the corner at Malta.  He said 1,000 people writing letters one by one had nowhere near the power of 1,000 people expressing their anger in front of video cameras with the world watching. 

I hated admitting that Billy was right, but I had to hand it to him.  That mob accomplished more than I would have ever dreamed possible.  I had witnessed three previous incidents where angry passengers got nowhere.  This was the first time I had ever seen a passenger protest succeed. 

Earlier when the Director had Susan one on one in his office, he was defiant and in control.   However, in the face of the mob, I could see him change his tune before my very eyes.  The amount of raw, naked anger in those people's voices shook the Director to the very core of his being. At the end of the meeting, he was in full retreat. 

As I regarded Billy's story, I had mixed feelings towards the man.  On the one hand, I did not feel the situation on the ship justified using mob tactics.  Personally, I could not have done what Billy did unless I was heavily provoked.  I had been as angry as Billy once before.  Back in New England, I missed a long awaited trip to Acadia thanks to the ship's incompetence.  Yes, I had been furious! 

However, the fact that Egypt was completely inaccessible changed everything on this trip.  To me, the money was not worth creating such a public spectacle.  It would have been completely against my nature to treat the Director in such a hostile manner given the weather situation in Egypt.

Billy disagreed with me. In Billy's mind, they deserved a full refund. I thought Billy had a lot of guts standing up to authority like that.  He had no qualms about doing whatever it took to get his way.  And it worked.  What a shame that people have to behave like complete jerks to get their way.  Never was the adage "nice guys finish last" more apparent.  I had just been given a first-hand lesson in how to get a cruise refund.

Then something strange happened.  As we waited in the airport, our flight had just been delayed for the third time that morning.  It seemed that last night Europe had been hit with the worst snowstorm in 25 years. Our plane to Frankfurt was indefinitely delayed.

Billy was very upset by the delays.  He wanted to get home.  By chance, the pilot of the airplane walked into the waiting area. I am not sure what the pilot was doing there, but I saw Billy notice the uniform and immediately corner him. After Billy confirmed who the man was, he directed a series of antagonistic questions at the pilot.

"How old are you?"  "Aren't you a little young to be the captain of this plane?"  "How much training have you had?"  "How much experience do you have?"

The pilot had first greeted Billy with a smile.  He was more than willing to engage Billy in a conversation.  Now his smile became a frown.  The pilot had clearly been caught off guard by Billy's unprovoked hostility.  He never expected to be given the third degree over his credentials.  Nevertheless, he politely tried to address Billy's concerns.

I was disgusted with Billy's behavior. What was the point?  He had absolutely no reason to interrogate the pilot in such a belligerent manner. What did he expect to accomplish?So the pilot was only 27. What difference did that make?  Furthermore, it wasn't the pilot's fault that the runways in Frankfurt were covered in snow!!

I had to walk away. I was disillusioned to discover the Leaders of the Passenger Revolt were not exactly the nicest people in the world. I suppose I should not have been surprised at Billy's behavior.  Apparently being confrontational is in his nature.

Well, more power to him. Yes, this husband and wife team had successfully intimidated the Hotel Director and the entire cruise line into issuing widespread refunds against serious odds. In fact, I never would have given them a chance. 

For their success, Billy and Sue became celebrities for the remainder of the trip.  Many rounds of drinks were hoisted in praise of their victory.  But there is a big part of me that does not like bullies.  Might does not necessarily make right.

Still, I appreciated the lesson in group power.  Billy was right.  Had each of these people written to management one at a time after the cruise was over, I doubt seriously they would have pried an estimated $200,000 concession out of the cruise line.

United we stand, divided we fall.  Never was the truth of that axiom in more display.



The Power of Video

It was not until one week after the cruise ended that I had a chance to view some of the international reports.  I saw three different clips that had aired on MSNBC.  

Watching the MSNBC clips, I suddenly realized the most powerful people in the room during the Passenger Revolt were the guys taking video.

Eventually their footage of the crowd screaming "Liar!" at the Hotel Director would flash across the screens of countless millions of people around the world.  Their video caught the intensity of the mob's anger in a way that a single picture or my written words would never equal. 

Thanks to video, I was fascinated to note that there was never the slightest chance for the ship to bury the story of the Passenger Revolt, much less the listing event. 

Today's technology has made it easier to leak stories than at any other time in modern world history.  The pen might still be mightier than the sword, but Video is an atomic-powered light saber compared to the pen.  This event was a perfect example.

The Power of the Media

It seems to me that video is so powerful that people might need to be more careful how it is used. 

The powerful cries of "Liar Liar" were so loud that they covered the entire ship.  That is what drew Marla and I to  the Deck 6 railing in the first place.  Unfortunately, I never heard what was said that provoked the cries of "Liar! Liar!" 

After the ugly confrontation was over, I asked several people why the crowd had been screaming "Liar!" at the Hotel Director.  Their answer left me flabbergasted.  To my surprise, not one person had the slightest idea what had prompted the chant or whether the man was really guilty of any half-truth.

All they knew was the Director was the only person with the guts to stand up in front of everyone and answer questions.  And look how that turned out. For his trouble, a bunch of angry passengers called him a Liar to his face while the cameras rolled.

Sad to say, the MSNBC clip didn't offer him the slightest chance to defend himself.  So I suppose in the eyes of the world, the Hotel Director will forever remain guilty as charged in the court of public opinion. 

His wife will see it. His mother will see it. His kids will see it. His peers will see it.  For the rest of his life, this man will be forced to remember that during his 15 minutes of fame the world knew him as a "LIAR".  How would you feel if that was you?

As I watched the three MSNBC clips, it seemed to me the clips made the event seem far more dramatic and risky than it ever was.  Truth be told, I personally was never scared.  However, I admit I have more experience than most people on the ship.  The fear of the other passengers was completely understandable.

But just because they were scared didn't mean they were actually ever in any danger.  The only real danger that night was getting hit by a flying object, but truthfully very few people were actually hit.  No one was badly hurt and the damage was superficial. 

The incident was simply "a close call".  So how on earth did "a close call" become an international event?   I still haven't answered that question to my own satisfaction.

And yet when I viewed the MSNBC clips, I was stunned.  Those clips made me feel lucky to be alive!   Someone who knew what they were doing had taken a few images, a few interviews, and added copy that made me feel like my ship had barely missed becoming the second Titanic.

If I had been somebody back in Houston and I saw any of those three clips without any inside knowledge of just how tame things really were, I would have concluded that Rick and Marla were unbelievably fortunate to survive this terrifying event. 

I learned from this experience that in the right hands, even a Christmas tree laying on the floor can become an image to convey terror.  For example, take the picture of that cruise ship fighting the waves.  That wasn't even our ship!  Furthermore, by aiming directly into those waves, the ship is in absolutely no danger.  But no one on the MSNBC clip bothered to point that out.

What if ten people were interviewed in Malta and one person in ten said they were afraid... but only that one single 'fear' interview was used in the clip?  That selective use would slant the story tremendously.  

What I discovered is that the media can distort an event any way they wish.  


Is there such a thing as a jinx ship?  It certainly makes you wonder.  Our troubled journey in December 2010 was not the ship's first brush with negative publicity on a world-wide basis. 

Back in 2005, the man above went missing from this same ship during his honeymoon. 

For the first time in my life, I had seen "media bias" in action.  That, my friends, was a whole lot scarier than all the 70 foot waves and 80 mile per hour winds put together.  

What do you do suppose would have happened if the media had not gotten involved? 

Here is a fascinating post on Cruise Critic that might answer that question.

Back in
2005 we sailed on the Serenade in a very calm Caribbean.

Suddenly out of nowhere, this ship listed and everything went wild. Everybody and everything that was not bolted down was thrown about. On the outside promenade deck large overhanging equipment and a clock crashed onto the deck. Water overflowed from the swimming pools above down into the elevators and this shorted the electric supply and created a fire. Some people had serious injuries as a result of this listing.

I was in the main theater and ironically watching a plate balancing act during this (needless to say what happened to the plates).  Behind us at the bar we could hear liquor bottles crashing onto the floor and then people scrambling to get out of theater...what a horror show!

I really thought that this was "my time" because of my location in the theater and thus not being able to get out if the ship had not come back from the list.

Being that the ship was in a calm sea did not make any sense to why we had listed so much. The official explanation was that the stabilizers had malfunctioned. As I can remember I am sure the Captain had responded professionally to the situation and all the appropriate measures were applied during the emergency... whatever that entailed I could not imagine.

But the only "I'm sorry for your horror show" credit we got was a free glass of wine at dinner. I wrote the company a letter about the fore mentioned experience but never got a reply.  (Cruise Critic)

So how do I explain why our cruise got a complete refund and the other cruise got a free glass of wine.... for an extremely similar situation? 

I call it the Splendor Effect.   A fire had broken out in the engine room. Subsequently power was lost throughout the ship. The engines no longer functioned.  The ship was stranded at sea.  Nothing on the ship worked.

The passengers were upset and rightfully so. They took all their complaints to the world's media. As the publicity for the cruise line worsened, the management decided to throw in the towel.   Thanks to their successful manipulation of the media, the passengers on the Splendor were amply rewarded.  Not only did the company refund the cruise, they threw in a future free cruise for good measure.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Refund Chasers greatly benefitted from the media momentum generated by the Splendor.   

Our cruise ship was due to pull into Malta in a day. The cruise line was well aware that our ship had now replaced the Splendor in the world's eye. There was a throng of media waiting to interview the passengers in Malta. Should they stick to their guns and keep the $200,000 or should they throw in the towel as well and offer refunds to avoid any further bad publicity?

You already know the answer to that question. Thanks to the unusual coincidence of two back to back cruise disasters, our ship was now linked to the Splendor in the mind of the public. If the Splendor passengers got refunds, then why shouldn't our passengers?

I can't help but wonder if a cruise ship has ever faced a mob as angry as ours before.  The Mutiny Event was truly something I will never forget.

In retrospect, when the cruise line made its initial $100 offer, I imagine the cruise line expected to deal with the angry passengers one at a time.  However, once the media got involved, that was bad news indeed.  And then the totally unexpected formation of the Billy Club supplied the coup de grace.  

For the record, I believe our passengers were OVERCOMPENSATED for their troubles.  In hindsight, I have to believe that if the cruise line had come in with a hefty sum to begin with, the passengers would never have become angry enough to organize in the first place. 

However, there may be other reasons for the company's capitulation that we will never know about.   As you will read in our next chapter, there are several highly mystifying unanswered questions that still trouble me. 

Our Next Story: 
Chapter Seven

The Riddle of the Sphinx

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