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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 January 2006, 12:37 GMT
QM2 passengers begin legal action
The QM2
The QM2 is the world's largest and most expensive cruise ship
Passengers on board the luxury liner Queen Mary 2 have initiated a mass lawsuit against the ship's operator.

A UK law firm told the BBC News website it had registered a class action on behalf of "disappointed holidaymakers".

Operator Cunard has offered a partial refund after revising the itinerary following propeller damage.

Passengers have rejected the offer, with some threatening to refuse to disembark when the ship reaches Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday.

Cunard spokesman Eric Flounders said the company was aware of reports of legal action but would not comment on them.

'Generous offer'

Cunard offered a 50% refund to about 1,000 passengers after the liner was forced to cancel three stops when one of its propellers was damaged in an accident when the ship was leaving Florida.

There's a tremendous amount of anger and frustration
Brian Adler
Passenger

More than 200 passengers are so far involved in the group litigation and more are joining, Cardiff-based Capital Law says.

"These passengers are very unhappy at their present predicament. They are dissatisfied with Cunard's proposals which fail to reflect the passengers' reasonable expectations of the holiday, which for many should have been the holiday of a lifetime," the lawyers told the BBC News website.

Holidaymakers say the refund applies only to the cost of the cruise and does not address the cost of flights or hotels at the aborted destinations, which they say form a significant part of their total holiday cost.

Cunard President Carol Marlow said the firm sympathised with the passengers, but felt the compensation offer was generous.

"We talked for a long time about this," she told GMTV.

1. Ship departs New York 15 Jan
2. Unscheduled stop at Ft Lauderdale - Departed then returned to port after accident 17 Jan -finally leaves 19th
3. St Kitts-Dropped from itinerary
4. Barbados- Dropped from itinerary
5. El Salvador- Dropped from itinerary
6. Due to arrive Rio de Janeiro 27 Jan

"We obviously have missed these ports-of-call, but our passengers have had 12 days on the most luxurious liner in the world, and we felt there was value in that."

But passengers say they were only informed of the revised route once they were at sea, and some are said to be furious at having been on board more than a week without a shore break.

"People have got stress, anxiety and depression on board," passenger Penny Freemantle from Southampton, UK, told the BBC News website.

"We've travelled 16,000 miles [25,700km] since leaving home and seen nothing at all apart from ocean.

"People would have caught a plane straight to Rio if they'd known the cruise wouldn't be stopping," she said.

'Sea-sickness'

Another passenger, Brian Adler, 61, from Manchester, told the BBC News website that some "militant passengers" were threatening to lock themselves in their cabins when they reached Rio, to prevent the ship from continuing its journey.

Several passengers have alleged the ship has not deployed stabilisers to steady itself as often as it should because it is travelling at speed to reach Rio by Friday, resulting in an outbreak of sea-sickness.

Cunard said the captain of the ship "denies this categorically".

"The stabilisers go out automatically according to the sea. This hasn't happened as the sea has not been rough," a spokesman said.

"The captain has checked with the medical facility, and he says since they've left Port Everglades they've only given 10 sea-sickness injections, which is very few out of a passenger list of 2,500."

Troubled history

Mr Flounders said the ship, which is on a 38-day voyage round South America, would continue its journey on three of its four propeller pods once it picks up more passengers in Rio.

He said that after Rio "the itinerary that has been published will be maintained".

But he said it would have to be adjusted, stopping for fewer hours than scheduled in Montevideo, Uruguay, and Acapulco in Mexico.

The QM2 is sailing two days behind schedule and has already abandoned stops in the Caribbean islands of St Kitts and Barbados, and Salvador in Brazil.

The cruise left New York on 15 January and made an unscheduled stop in Fort Lauderdale, where it was docked for two days after damaging a propeller pod.

It is due to complete its full journey in Los Angeles on 22 February.

This latest mishap is not the first time the liner has known trouble.

Fifteen people were killed when a gangway collapsed while the ship was in dry dock at St Nazaire, France, in 2003.

In 2004, it arrived back home from its maiden voyage late after bow doors covering the propellers failed to shut after a stop in Portugal.


Your comments:

I must say I am slightly concerned with certain people who regard the people taking action to be wrong! One group of people were given the title extremists which is rather funny! My Grandfather and Grandma are on the QM2 and they are not ones to complain; however they have both agreed to take part in the stand when they reach Brazil! At the moment I feel the blame is being twisted onto those like my grandfather and grandma, but will their efforts be successful?
Will Holt, Leicester

Have read your stories about the QM2. My parents are on board and they, too, are disgusted with the pettiness of the VERY FEW people trying to cause trouble. As far as the seasickness is concerned ... some people get seasick on calm water ... there have not been rough seas.
Pat Hamilton

I am currently on board the Liner Queen Mary 2. I think it is about time someone commended Commodore Warwick, his Officers and Crew for a superb job. This is also difficult for them. I have seen many negative reports in the media and feel it is all very biased. I have been reading these stories with interest as I am in the middle of the 'action' so to speak. Am I the only one to notice that most of the stories seem to come from the same person? This is the same person that is trying to persuade passengers to stage a 'sit-in'. I believe that he is sailing beyond Rio so maybe he is just trying to make the ship late again so he can get 50% off the second part of the Cruise. Who cares if we are at sea for the whole time? The ship is better than any port we could stop at. This whole issue is becoming tiresome and I wish this small group, and believe me they are the minority, would stop trying to ruin everyone else's cruise. They themselves have done more damage to our enjoyment than anything else. One poor woman was asked to sit somewhere else because she dared to argue against all their negativity. My only regret here is that I have to sail with these 'cheap' passengers. Well done Commodore Warwick.
Anonymous

My parents are on board the QM2. We cannot get in touch with them as every time we email them it gets returned to us. The fault thoroughly lies with Cunard and "pilot error". How can they not refund the whole amount to passengers who chose a cruise and not a slow boat to china (sorry Rio!). I would ask the passengers due to embark at Brazil to spare a thought for those currently on board and put themselves in their position. The papers over here are very interested in what's going on! Love to Mum and Dad if you're reading this. Stay strong!
Adele Woollin, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Yes, I have travelled on the QM2 (from Southampton to New York to Southampton) and I was looked after very well indeed and thoroughly enjoyed the Force 8 gales on the Atlantic! This whole matter is a demonstration that the something for nothing culture that pervades the UK and USA is not limited to those who belong to the less fortunate in society who probably cannot afford to travel on QM2. Travel on such a ship as QM2 is an adventure. If people want a package tour, they should book the flat bottom waders that do cruise around the Caribbean and cannot go faster than 5 knots. I bet these same people are the sort who sit at home watching television and loudly disapproving of those young people who have to hang around at airports for days because they have spent all their holiday money on drink in the first week. I feel sorry for the staff on board.
Jonathon Hutton, Liverpool, England

I'm sorry you got stuck on your trip, but every time I fly Air Canada, they end up trapping me in a layover airport for 12 hours or more with NO hot meals or karaoke... welcome to the wide world of travel, where everything doesn't always go exactly your way.

Yes, at least most of your money should be returned, but let's thank our lucky stars that the ship didn't get washed away in a tsunami, before we start comparing ourselves to Civil Rights heroes who likely never saw in their LIFETIME the amount of money it takes to purchase a trip like this...
Jade Nesvold, Edmonton, Alberta

My wife and I have taken 3 trips on the QM2 in the last 9 months (transatlantic). We found the ship and staff good value but the administration was completely out of touch when any query was made. Bookings prices made on board were not honoured and the customer service staff (on land) stonewalled us until we had to call our credit card to try to stop unauthorised charges.

The whole company seems to have been in a defence mode since the launch in Jan 2004. The ship itself is great but the hotel management staff seems to be out of touch with the land staff - this I think is the root of the problem -poor management at some high level.
Brian Lucas, Los Fresnos USA

My parents and Uncle and Aunty are all at sea on this most expensive ferry ride from hell. I have heard from them on a daily basis since this fateful journey began and I can tell you they are extremely disappointed and dissatisfied with their horrendous holiday and above all the compensation they have been offered. They have been attending the meetings on board and yes I totally agree, they should with the rest of the passengers stage a mutiny when they arrive at Rio on Friday. I feel that Cunard were obliged to discuss the problems that had occurred when in port at Fort Lauderdale to give the passengers an opportunity to disembark or continue with their journey - this certainly was not the case.

I have told them to stand their ground with all the passengers and ensure they do not leave the ferry boat!... without being 100% satisfied with their compensation this will ensure there peace of mind that Cunard gave them a fair deal and that maybe just maybe them may sail with them again.
Vanessa, Portsmouth

I think these people are ruining their own vacations by churning their own angst about not getting to stop at Barbados. These passengers are simply looking to take advantage of the situation. They are looking for a free trip. I mean to say. They act as if this were done on purpose Cunard maliciously cheating passengers out their vacation by chewing up the port forward pod and getting some sort of pleasure out of it. These passengers have been offered 50 percent refunds. They are not being swindled of days on the ship or food for that matter. So, chill out. Sit back and enjoy relaxing days at sea.
Ken Carlisle, Roseville, California

I have been in regular touch with a dear friend on the QM2. It is obvious that Cunard has downplayed how crippling the damaged pod has been to the ship's ability to make speed and how widespread the disaffection among passengers is. Cunard has gotten itself between the proverbial rock and hard place: To liberalize the compensation being offered would be to acknowledge additional liability, while to stand fast in the face of mounting indignation could very well result in a public-relations disaster. Cunard got itself into this mess. Will it be able to get itself out?
Shaun Mullen, Newark, Delaware, USA

My parents are onboard the ship and have been appalled by the disinformation being given to the media by QM's owners, Cunard. The situation onboard is clearly far more dire than Cunard dares admit. Cunard's decision to reroute the ship through the high seas (rather than through calmer Caribbean waters), and without warning the passengers of this before setting off, has left many with severe seasickness. And it's definitely not just a small minority of passengers that are threatening a mutiny (and possible legal action), most if not all of the passengers appear to be up in arms over the pathetic compensation offer that Cunard so far made.
Ashley, London

Whilst I do feel sorry for the passengers on board, you have to remember that the QM2 is scheduled to drop off and collect other passengers at various stops. If they didn't try to make up time by foregoing some of its stops then the knock on effect would be even worse. I and the rest of my family are scheduled to join the QM2 in Los Angeles on the 22nd February and would not want to miss out on our trip. It is very unfortunate but there are other passengers further down the line to consider as well. Whilst I am sure the compensation Cunard has offered doesn't completely satisfy everyone, it is still very generous.
Graham Holmes, Yucaipa USA




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear from one of the ship's passengers



SEE ALSO:
Anger among QM2 passengers soars
23 Jan 06 |  Americas
QM2 passengers make mutiny threat
22 Jan 06 |  Americas
Queen Mary 2 forced back to port
18 Jan 06 |  Americas
In pictures: Queen Mary 2 launch
08 Jan 04 |  Photo Gallery
Queens of the seas home together
16 Apr 05 |  Hampshire


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