When storms force your cruise to skip ports of call, don’t sit idly in your cabin watching the whitecaps break menacingly against the ship. Go find your fellow passengers and stage a mutiny! At least that is what passengers onboard the Sapphire Princess did when two typhoons kept the ship from planned port calls in Vietnam, Japan, and Taiwan.
At one point, with passengers assembled in the ship’s theater, she said, “the attorney jumped up and grabbed the microphone away from the assistant cruise director and said: ‘We’re taking over the stage! We have a petition!'”
There was once a time on the bounding main when a captain would not kowtow to rebels armed merely with a petition, but the world is now watching everything. News accounts in London and elsewhere were following the plight of the storm-tossed Sapphire Princess.
“There was a big shouting match with the captain,” she said. “One passenger was telling everybody he was captain of a yacht back home.” He stormed the bridge with Google Earth printouts, she said, and demanded to show the captain how to navigate around the storm.
As the ship approached its final port, near Beijing, a few passengers threatened to barricade themselves in their staterooms unless they got $1,000 in chits and a free cruise. Resistance collapsed when the captain noted that the police in Beijing would probably not be in the mood for negotiation, Ms. Spencer Brown said.
Cruise ship officers are trained to run ships, not public relations campaigns. The absence of information allows fear and paranoia to breed, leading scared and confused passengers to harangue crew members who are unable to properly explain their actions.
Modern mutiny is not about careening headfirst into storms to scoop up trinkets from exotic locales. Like any customer response, its purpose is to escalate—albeit with outlandish drama—a complaint to decision makers who can offer a solution. The would-be pirates onboard the Sapphire Pricess didn’t win a free tip or a grand of casino blow, but Princess did offer $250 for onboard spending and a 50% discount on a future cruise.
Growing Rebellion on the High Seas [NYT]
(Photo: The Associated Press)