British Columbia

Cruise ship stuck in Vancouver due to tugboat strike departs a day late

An Alaska cruise ship stranded in Vancouver by a tugboat strike is now on the move.

Cruise line says Celebrity Eclipse was tied to barge whose crew was refusing to move it

Cruise ship passengers are pictured aboard the Celebrity Eclipse while it is delayed leaving from port due to a tugboat strike in Vancouver, British Columbia on Monday, August 29, 2022.
The Celebrity Eclipse was delayed from leaving Vancouver due to a tugboat workers' strike on Aug. 29, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

An Alaska cruise ship stranded in Vancouver overnight due to a tugboat workers strike has departed.

Celebrity Cruises said the Celebrity Eclipse, which had been due to depart Sunday afternoon, was unable to leave the Port of Vancouver without the tugs.

An onboard announcement Monday morning from the ship's captain said the Eclipse was tied to a barge whose crew were on strike.

The captain said the barge crew refused to move it, and other tugboat companies still operating in the port wouldn't move the barge either because they didn't own it.

People stand on a cruise ship
Cruise ship passengers are pictured aboard the Celebrity Eclipse while its departure was delayed on Aug. 29, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Celebrity Cruises' social media accounts were flooded with complaints from people saying they were trapped aboard the Eclipse.

Passenger Steve Bains said the captain announced just after noon on Monday that workers had agreed to detach the ship from the barge, and later sent photos confirming the ship set sail around 12:45 p.m. PT.

Bains, who boarded the ship with his wife around 1:30 p.m. Sunday, said people were frustrated with a lack of communication from staff Sunday night.

"In a sense, we're being held hostage," he said in an interview about two hours before departure.

The Canadian Merchant Service Guild began job action on all 30 Seaspan tugs in the province Thursday after it said contract negotiations had reached an impasse.

Seaspan spokesperson Adam D'Agostino said despite the company's efforts to maintain service, fallout from the strike has had a cascading effect on its operations.

"Seaspan had made arrangements to minimize the impacts to our customers and the broader industry," he said. "It was unfortunate that the job action by CMSG workers has caused other union workers to refuse work that has resulted in delays to vessels, and, in some cases, passengers."

D'Agostino said Seaspan had contracted a separate tugboat company to unmoor the cruise ship from the barge but they initially declined to do the job.

"In the end, that company that we contracted the work out to got around to removing it," he said.

The Celebrity Eclipse has a capacity of 2,852 passengers, but the company hasn't said how many people are on board.

The cruise line told passengers via Twitter that they would have to skip their stop in Icy Strait, Alaska, due to lost time, but the rest of the itinerary would remain the same.

Celebrity Cruises' also said it would issue onboard credits to the amount of 1½ days of the base fare. 

With files from CBC News

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