Celebrity Cruises has been forced to cancel the May 22 Alaska sailing out of Vancouver for Celebrity Eclipse, as well as alter the May 15 itinerary with shortened ports of call due to barnacle growth on the ship’s hull.
Booked guests have been offered alternative sailings or full refunds for the canceled cruise, as well as compensation for the changed itinerary.
Celebrity Eclipse May 22 Cancelation
Just two weeks before setting sail, guests on the 7-night round trip Alaska Hubbard Glacier sailing from Vancouver have been notified that their sailing must be canceled due to marine growth – barnacles – on the hull.
The email sent to booked guests read, “Due to recent marine growth that has developed on the ship’s hull (a natural process that you might know as barnacle growth), and our commitment to following local environmental procedures we are putting Celebrity Eclipse into a dry dock for 7 days in order to safely and responsibly clean the hull.”
Guests are being offered rebooking options, or may choose a full refund if they no longer wish to sail or are not interested in replacement sailings.
The email offers alternative 2022 Alaska sailings aboard Celebrity Eclipse at a later date, or else sailing aboard Celebrity Millennium or Celebrity Solstice. Rebooked sailings will be given a 25% discount, and guests have until Tuesday, May 17, 2022, to make their selection.
Both Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Solstice are Solstice-class vessels, with identical gross tonnage of 128,878 gross tons, and passenger capacities of 2,850 guests at double occupancy. Celebrity Millennium is a somewhat smaller Millennium-class ship, at 91,000 gross tons and 2,137 passengers at double occupancy.
Celebrity Solstice is sailing similar 7-night itineraries to Celebrity Eclipse, but from Seattle rather than Vancouver. Celebrity Millennium is offering one-way, 7-night northbound and southbound voyages alternating from Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, Canada.
These same three ships are scheduled for Celebrity Cruises’ 2023 Alaska season.
May 15 Itinerary Changed
Guests on the May 15 sailing just before the canceled cruise have also been notified of some dramatic itinerary adjustments. While the cruise has not been canceled with such short notice, the barnacle growth is causing speed issues with environmental compliance that have impacted times the ship may spend in port.
An email sent to booked guests reads, “the ship is experiencing lower speeds than typical, and we have to adjust for this in our ports of call timings. This will result in shorter time spent in all ports of call.”
Guests have been provided with an updated itinerary, which has changed as follows:
- Tuesday, 5/17 – Sitka – New port time: 2:15-6 p.m. (formerly: 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.)
- Wednesday, 5/18 – Hubbard Glacier (Cruising) – New port time: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (formerly 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)
- Thursday, 5/19 – Juneau – New port time: 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (formerly 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
- Friday, 5/20 – Ketchikan – New port time: 2-5 p.m. (formerly 2-8:30 p.m.)
When totaled, guests will now be spending more than 12 hours less in ports of call, as well as 2.5 hours less cruising near the scenic Hubbard Glacier. Sitka is the most dramatically impacted, as instead of the originally planned 9 hours, 30 minutes in port, the ship will now only be docked for less than half that time at just 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Because of the shorter times, the email continues, “many of our shore excursions have been affected and either changed time frames or been canceled.”
Canceled excursions will automatically be fully refunded back to the original form of payment, while altered shore tours will have guests’ tickets automatically adjusted for the new timing.
In addition to refunding the canceled shore tours, all guests will receive a $100 onboard credit on their ship accounts to compensate for the dramatically reduced port time.
The May 15 sailing, a roundtrip itinerary from Vancouver, Canada, is the ship’s first itinerary of its Alaska season. The ship has been out of service since March 30, 2020, and just recently resumed service on April 23, 2022, with two 11-night, one-way sailings between Vancouver, Canada and Honolulu, Hawaii.
Barnacles Affecting Cruise Ship Operation
The type of barnacle growth affecting Celebrity Eclipse growth is natural, but needs attention to ensure the ship’s efficient operation, as well as to comply with local environmental guidelines.
While individually small, accumulated barnacles can dramatically impact how much fuel a ship needs or may increase drag and impact overall cruising speeds. Depending on the variety – and there are more than 1,400 species worldwide – barnacles may also sometimes introduce unfamiliar marine organisms into new environments.
Cleaning the hull can be a delicate process, and it is essential to do so with care to ensure the ship’s hull is not compromised and no environmental contaminants are introduced into local waters.
Taking the time to put the ship into dry dock for thorough cleaning ensures the most environmentally responsible practices can be used, without compromising either the local marine environment or guest experiences, if such cleaning were to happen while the ship was sailing at full speed.