High Winds Impact Cruise Ships in Elliott Bay

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Two cruise ships were stranded in Elliott Bay outside of Seattle on the morning of June 3, 2024, due to high winds. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Hurtigruten Expeditions’ ms Roald Amundsen could not make port and were stranded waiting for tugboats to assist.

As Quantum of the Seas approached its berth at the Port of Seattle for its 6 a.m. arrival, strong winds forced the ship to wait until more tugboats could assist. Typically, two tugboats are used to bring in cruise ships, but with strong winds, the ship required extra caution to dock at Pier 91 and chose to anchor in Elliott Bay as it waited.

Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier said to Cruise Hive:The high winds affecting the Seattle area did impact 1 cruise ship today. The pilot aboard the Royal Caribbean ‘Quantum of the Seas’ requested an anchorage spot in Elliott Bay to wait for tugs to assist them into their berth at Pier 91. A small craft advisory exists for the entire Puget Sound area.

Two tugs from the Foss corporation were able to assist the cruise ship around noon on Monday to get to Pier 91,” Strohmaier added.

A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean told local news“Due to high winds, Quantum of the Seas is delayed in returning to port. We’re closely monitoring the weather and are communicating updates directly to our guests.”

The ship, which holds over 4,900 passengers and measures more than 1,100 feet long, is homeported in Seattle for the summer, taking passengers on week-long trips to Alaska. Quantum of the Seas was returning from a voyage that departed Seattle on May 27 and journeyed to Ketchikan, Sitka, Tracy Arm/Endicott Arm, and Juneau, Alaska, along with Victoria, British Columbia.

On the same day, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a wind advisory for western Washington, including Elliott Bay, forecasting gusts up to 40 miles per hour until 11 a.m. June 4.

Norwegian expedition cruise line Hurtigruten Expeditions’ 1,018-passenger ms Roald Amundsen, which is only 460 feet long, was also stranded in the sound, requiring additional tugs. The ship is also currently spending the summer exploring Alaska.

Quantum of the Seas arrived in Elliott Bay shortly after 5 a.m., according to cruise tracking data, and did not dock until after 1 p.m. Pacific Time (PT). The delay had significant implications for passengers with early morning or afternoon flights as they missed their connections. Those with flights later in the day were still at risk as disembarkation on mega ships as large as Quantum of the Seas can take up to four hours to complete.

Quantum of the Seas was also scheduled to embark on another Alaskan voyage at 4 p.m. (PT).

Passengers waiting to board that 7-night roundtrip adventure, which also included trips to Sitka, Skagway, Tracy Arm, Juneau, and Victoria, were expected to experience delays in embarkation and departure due to the late arrival.

Cruise Ships In Seattle
Cruise Ships in Seattle

Following disembarkation, the ship’s crew needs time to clean and prepare the ship between the sailings, further delaying the process. High winds are expected to continue until the following day, which could potentially require additional tugboat assistance leaving the cruise terminal.

At press time, Royal Caribbean had not released a statement regarding further delays or possible compensation offered to either itinerary’s passengers who were inconvenienced.

Royal Caribbean is likely to face the challenge of coordinating with passengers to adjust their travel schedules. However, weather-related delays do not warrant compensation from cruise lines. Cruise lines also warn passengers not to book early morning flights to allow time for potential arrival delays. Any additional fees incurred for missing a flight will likely be at the expense of the passenger.

The predicament highlights the advantages of having travel insurance, which typically covers unforeseen events such as trip delays, cancellations, and interruptions. In the case of Quantum of the Seas, passengers with travel insurance may be able to claim expenses for rebooking flights, accommodations, and meals.

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