Ambassador Cruise Line CEO Christian Verhounig has responded to the events that occurred onboard its cruise ship Ambience this week. The company halted its Festive Market Getaway cruise after guests had already boarded the vessel and cancelled its Christmas and New Year Canary Islands cruise for safety reasons.
The decision was made following the identification of an issue with the lifeboat stations on board Ambience. Verhounig emphasized that the health and safety of all passengers is the company’s top priority and made clear that the cancellation of the two cruises has nothing to do with a suggested poor financial position.
Safety First Says Ambassador Cruise Line CEO
On December 19, guests boarded Ambassador Cruise Line’s cruise ship Ambience for a three-day Festive Market Getaway cruise in Tilbury, UK. However, only hours after boarding, while many guests were enjoying their dinner, an announcement was made that they should disembark the vessel again the following day, December 20, at 09:30 AM.
In a reaction posted to his personal Facebook page, Ambassador Cruise Line CEO Christian Verhounig reacted to the news and explained why the cruise line made such a dramatic move.
Christian Verhounig, CEO of Ambassador Cruise Line: “As you know, the last two days have seen Ambassador Cruise Line reluctantly terminate its Festive Market Getaway cruise and cancel its Christmas and New Year Canary Islands cruise for safety reasons following the identification of an issue with the lifeboat stations on board our ship, Ambience.”
“It is never an easy decision to cancel or terminate a cruise, particularly at this time of year, but the health and safety of all who sail with Ambassador is and will remain our priority.”
Verhounig also addressed speculation that the cancellations were due to the financial position of Ambassador Cruise Line, stating that the company is financially robust with trust arrangements and full insurance coverage in place.
“I want to reassure you that we are a financially robust business with trust arrangements in place and full insurance cover for incidents of this kind.”
“On a personal note, I am sad that we had no option but to withdraw these itineraries. Events like these never happen at a good time, but technical issues and challenges are unfortunately part of a cruise company’s day-to-day life – and we, at Ambassador, will never compromise on the safety of our guests or crew, however low the risk,” Verhounig continued.
Ambience Passed Inspection in March 2022
In March 2022, the Ambience underwent an outside inspection of its lifeboat stations, including required overload tests, and received a 5-year overload certificate.
Verhounig explained that the cancellations were related to the upcoming independent survey of the Ambience, which is necessary to renew its Passenger Ship Safety Certificate. During an internal inspection on December 18, various safety, technical, and operational checks were conducted on the ship, including an assessment of the lifeboat stations.
It was discovered that the lifeboat stations on the Ambience did not meet the required safety standards. Verhounig: “During an inspection of the lifeboat stations on Sunday 18th December, the Surveyor observed a slight movement of one of the sheaves used for guiding the steel wire ropes that move and hold the lifeboats in position.”
“When checking on this movement further, the inspection brought to light a hairline crack on the bracket holding these sheaves in position, and more of these were found in a similar position on other brackets.”
While these issues were not of a nature that would have prevented the vessel from sailing, and the ship remained fully compliant with all SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) regulations, the cracks could have potentially caused issues in the future.
To repair the cracks, the vessel has been relocated to the Lloyd Werft Shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany, where lifeboat-related repairs and additional work will be completed.
Ambience Returns to Operations in January
Ambience is expected to be fully operational and return to Tilbury in time for the Cuba and Treasures of the Caribbean itinerary on January 5. The company will provide updates on the progress of the repairs.
The 42 Night Cuba & Treasures Of The Caribbean cruise will visit Ports such as Funchal, Madeira; Mindelo, Cape Verde; Barbados; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Santiago de Cuba and Havana, Cuba; Grand Cayman, and Ponta Delgada, Azores
Verhounig apologized to all guests involved with the cancellation of the two voyages. All guests will receive a full refund and a 25% discount on a new booking or can choose to lift and shift to a different cruise with a 50% discount.