New cruise ship joins operation to bring Brits home from Spain

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A brand new cruise ship has cancelled the first leg of its inaugural celebrations in order to rescue British holidaymakers stranded in Spain by the volcano ash cloud.
Celebrity Eclipse arrives in Southampton on Tuesday morning, and was expected to begin a week of celebrations, taking travel agents, loyal Celebrity passengers and media on overnight party trips in the English Channel.
Instead, the 122,000-ton ship, capable of carrying more than 2,800 passengers in normal operation, will set off in the evening to sail to Bilbao, in northern Spain.
Arriving in the early hours of Thursday morning, the vessel will embark holidaymakers who have travelled with major UK package tour operators, some of whom have been in Spain since Easter and were stranded when UK airspace was closed last Thursday as a result of the dust cloud created by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.
The ship is expected to arrive back in Southampton on Friday evening, in time for the launch and naming celebrations to go ahead as planned on Saturday, with round-the-world yachtswoman and breast cancer survivor Emma Pontin as godmother.
Richard D. Fain, chairman of Celebrity Cruises and chairman and CEO of its parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said:
 
“The events affecting air travel are completely unprecedented, and it is in times like these that the global travel industry needs to pull together. Collecting stranded British and Irish holidaymakers is a fitting first mission for new ship Celebrity Eclipse – what better way for a ship dedicated to the UK to mark her arrival?
 
“We hope that guests initially invited to join the launch celebrations on April 22 will understand the change of plan, and we look forward to welcoming as many of them as possible to the naming ceremony on April 24 instead.”
 
Over the last few days the closure of the UK, Irish and northern European airports has affected about six percent of guests trying to join a Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International or Azamara Club Cruises vessel globally. This includes both those trying to complete return travel at the end of a cruise, or journeys to a ship to embark on a cruise.
Royal Navy ships, including HMS Ark Royal, HMS Ocean and HMS Albion, have been drafted into the operation to bring tourists home from France and Spain but none can carry as many passengers – in as much comfort – as Eclipse.

By | 2010-04-19T23:26:19+00:00 19 April 2010|Cruise news|8 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

8 Comments

  1. HolidayGal 20 April 2010 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Bet they’ll be cruise converts in future! Clever move on Celebrity’s part there.

  2. Delia Campbell 20 April 2010 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Just one cruise ship could get everyone who’s stranded in the Canary Islands back to the UK.
    Any offers?

  3. Delia Campbell 20 April 2010 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    Just one cruise ship could get everyone who’s stranded in the Canary Islands back to the UK.
    Any offers?

  4. dana hartley 20 April 2010 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    My nine year old daughter is stuck in tenerife with her aunt ive not seen her for nearly three weeks now and there has been no mention of a cruise ship picking them up and no other information is anyone going to help these people?

  5. Michael Bund 22 April 2010 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    Our Royal Caribbean Cruise ended in Venice on Sat 17th April. We were asked to disembark at the scheduled time of 7.30am even tho’ all flights were canceled. We were told that a rep would be at the Airport to help with accommodation arrangements…. There wasn’t….. All passengers were left stranded. The ship didn’t sail until Sunday evening, with only a handful of passengers. All we wanted was help with accommodation & possibly coaches to the ports. By abandoning us on the streets of Venice they added to the disruption & chaos. Surely they had a part to play in helping to lessen the chaos. There was only disregard and a total lack of compassion for their passengers.

  6. Toni Fitter 23 April 2010 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    This is a joke, we too were stranded in Venice. There was absolutely no information to passengers on the Splendour of The Seas which docked in Venice on the Sat 17th April. We were abandoned and dumped. We had an overnight stay planned in Venice through Royal Caribbean and received a note from the Hotel that someone had called in to say the airports were ‘probably’ closed and we should ring Royal Caribbean in Miami for assistance – even the telephone number they gave us was incorrect. Royal Caribbean DID NOT ASSIST ITS CUSTOMERS in VENICE. All we wanted was communication and that ceased with the Rep there denying to some passengers that she even worked for Royal Caribbean – it was a total nightmare for the majority of passengers who disembarked – there is much more to say for the way in which we and fellow passengers were treated – an absolute disgrace, certainly they can’t be proud of sending a ship that was going to be full of non-paying industry reps being buttered up to sell their cruises!!! This wasn’t a rescue, just a publicity stunt – the fact is that Royal Caribbean left 100’s of passengers stranded with no assistance. Surely that is worthy of the publicity.

  7. Sheena Kelly 25 April 2010 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    We to were left stranded by Royal Caribbean International at the end of our cruise and like Toni Fitter was scheduled to stay one night in the same hotel in Venice. We also tried the number we were given for Miami but were also unable to talk to anyone from RCI. We went to the reception area on the day of our scheduled departure but the Rep did not appear so we had no choice but to rebook the hotel on a daily basis for a further 3 nights. RCI did absolutely nothing to help or even provide any information to us stranded passengers (apart from the note left by their Rep saying the flight would probably be cancelled) and we are totally disgusted by their couldn’t care less attitude. We eventually made it home on Wednesday but absolutely no thanks to RCI. We only made it out because one of our party is a travel agent and she spent all day Sunday on the telephone and internet trying to arrange new flights, the earliest ones available being on the Wednesday. We were lucky. Some people from the cruise were still there when we left and still had no contact from RCI.
    We agree that the comment by Richard Fain CEO of RCI is a joke if only it was funny. We did not get or have had any communication from RCI never mind being rescued! We agree it would appear to be a cheap publicity stunt as in our experience RCI showed no interest in trying to help its own passengers when we needed it.

  8. Linda 4 June 2010 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    Royal Caribbean Cruise is rubbish! I agree with the others comments,we were treated badly

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