A strike by tug boat workers in Vancouver, British Columbia stranded Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Eclipse overnight, as the ship was unable to leave the embarkation port due to a fuel barge that was not moved. This has caused the cruise ship to be delayed from Vancouver and may impact the vessel’s 7-night Alaskan itinerary.
Fuel Barge Blocks Cruise Ship
While the Solstice-class cruise ship does not itself require tug assistance to depart Vancouver, a fuel barge alongside the ship for normal fueling operations does require tug boats to move safely.
Due to the tug workers’ strike, the barge was not relocated after refueling operations were completed, and Celebrity Eclipse was unable to depart as scheduled.
“There’s a local tug workers strike at the Port of Vancouver. Without the support of tug boats, the ship is unable to depart the port,” Celebrity Cruises said on Twitter during the delay. “We are working diligently with all local authorities to resolve the situation so that the ship can embark on its sailing.”
While some passengers onboard were upset at a perceived lack of communication from the cruise line, Celebrity Cruises was responding to social media inquiries as much as possible.
The cruise ship was finally able to get underway and depart Vancouver at approximately 1 p.m. on Monday afternoon, rather than the original departure time of 4:30 p.m. Sunday, August 28.
Itinerary May Be Impacted
Passengers onboard Celebrity Eclipse have reported generally good spirits despite the delay, as well as exceptional service by the crew. Celebrity Eclipse has a guest capacity of 2,850 passengers at double occupancy, with an onboard crew of approximately 1,270 international team members.
The ship’s itinerary may be adjusted to account for the delay, however. It is possible that port times might be shortened if needed, or the days the ship is scheduled to visit particular port destinations might be changed to accommodate different travel times.
This 7-night roundtrip itinerary has Celebrity Eclipse visiting the popular ports of Icy Strait Point, Juneau, and Ketchikan, plus spending time cruising to view Hubbard Glacier.
Some passengers were upset at the situation, given that identical cruises had been canceled due to the pandemic shutdown, and this sailing was a return-to-the-sea for many eager guests. It should be noted, however, that Celebrity Cruises is not involved in the labor dispute in any way; Celebrity Eclipse only happened to be caught in the strike.
The ship is scheduled to return to Vancouver on Sunday, September 4, and there are no delays anticipated for its arrival and debarkation prior to its next cruise.
Strike Impacting Port Operations
The union-led strike of tug boat workers began August 25, 2022 amid disputes over contract negotiations. This has led to workers stopping services, which then impacts how vessels can move around the port area and refuel as needed.
While Celebrity Eclipse was not the only cruise ship docked at Canada Place cruise terminal in Vancouver on Sunday, August 28, it was the only ship impacted by the strike.
Royal Caribbean International’s Serenade of the Seas and Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam both departed on schedule and without incident.
Tug boat workers are not the only labor force that could potentially impact cruise operations at a homeport. Should other essential workers at a port strike, cruise operations could be slowed or stopped. This applies to security personnel, pilot boat captains, dock workers, and other critical positions.