Solve Problems On Cruise Ships By Staging A Mutiny!

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)


Edit Your Comment

  1. youbastid says:

    What a bunch of assholes. The cruise ship wouldn’t take them on a dangerous path and they rebelled? And some asshole thinks that because he’s captained a yacht, he knows how to navigate a cruise ship? I hate all of these people. The captain and staff should have given them what they wanted, put the ship on auto pilot and bailed.

  2. homerjay says:

    Wait, I don’t see how mutiny solved this at all. Am I missing something?

  3. alice_bunnie says:

    I’m with @youbastid: I think the captain knows WTF he’s talking about. A cruise ship is not a yacht.

  4. thalia says:

    Uh, okay…so people rebel against you because you’re trying to keep them ALIVE? These people were a bunch of idiots! You know if the ship had crashed coming into port or the yacht man had taken over and capsized the ship, everyone would have sued the cruise line.

  5. azntg says:

    Avoid cruises on commercial cruise ships, got it!

  6. jaredharley says:

    My wife and I missed a port of call on our Western Caribbean honeymoon cruise on Carnival. We were supposed to stop at the Cayman Islands, but the water was too rough to get the tenders (ferrys, there is no dock in Cayman) up next to the ship – the captain tried repositioning our ship for about an hour.

    Carnival apologized for the problem and gave everyone on board $50 in ship credits. Granted, it didn’t make up for missing the 1 port of call we REALLY wanted to go to, but it was something. I wasn’t about to start a mutiny…

  7. savdavid says:

    These are the same people who would have sued the ship line if it have given in and then wrecked because of bad weather.

  8. cde says:

    Technical Point: Only crews can mutiny, not passengers. That’s another word.

  9. SRSco says:

    I’m surprised some asshole with an iPhone didn’t check his weather widgets to let the Captain no they were in no danger of hitting the typhoon.

  10. iluvhatemail says:

    Cruises really sound like they suck. You pay all that money and if there is bad weather you miss out on part of your expected trip.

  11. TechnoDestructo says:


    Because he captained a boat which is more vulnerable to weather than a cruise ship? Yeah, he might have had some useful insight. (Not sure I’d take his word for it, though.)

    There are non-profit cruise ships?

  12. swalve says:

    @SRSco: I think that’s exactly it. Access to information somehow makes people think they’re experts.

  13. Eliamias says:

    @TechnoDestructo: Whether more or less vulnerable, when you have 2600 lives for which you’re responsible, I think erring on the side of caution is best.

    And I fail to see why this is labeled ‘problem solving’ when it’s more ‘problem causing’ in my opinion. Every one of those tools should have been slapped in a dinghy and sent on their merry way to ‘skirt around’ whatever weather phenomenon they wished. Idiots is much too mild a term for these jackalopes.

  14. SRSco says:

    @SRSco: “let the Captain no?” Sorry. I really did mean “Know.”

  15. vex says:

    Forget the ports of call, this would be all the entertainment I would have needed.

  16. bravo369 says:

    If a cruise is supposed to make 4 stops then you should get a 25% refund for each stop it misses regardless of reason. Yes you are still on the ship but everyone I know picks a cruise based upon where it will stop. If it doesn’t stop then you aren’t getting what you were offered. I would assume cruise ships do this but if they don’t then I’d want to hold a mutiny also.

  17. homerjay says:

    @bravo369: That would be nice but the bottom line is that they don’t and they make no apologies for this. Everyone knows you’re not getting any kind of refund if your cruise sucks no matter what the reason. Its the risk you take when you cruise. If you don’t like it don’t go on a cruise. Its the only way to let them know that you don’t like their policies.

  18. Zombietime says:

    I was on a Royal Caribbean cruise a few years ago when a storm brewed while we were on a private island. We had to spend the night on the island with no shelter and little food and water for about 1000 people. Now I didn’t complain because i thought it was cool but missing a port kinda sucked.

    Now what I really didn’t expect was that the cruise line refunded us our money 100% and also gave us a voucher for a free cruise. Thank god for all the old people that bitched!

    Cruises are really great vacations and weather can be a factor but I’d say it’s rare unless you venture out during hurricane season.

  19. spinachdip says:

    @homerjay: I’m no typography expert, but I’m pretty sure the post is written in Sarcastic typeface.

  20. wordsmithy says:

    Airlines don’t give refunds because of weather, so how can we expect cruise ships to do so?

  21. forgottenpassword says:

    LOL! That sounded bizare (yet hilarious!). I do however sympathize with passengers when it comes to being FAIRLY compensated by a company that doesnt hold up to their end of the bargain. Companies often throw something of very little value or trivial in half-hearted attempt to satisfy customer complaints.

    It like getting ONLY a free night’s stay (as compensation )at a hotel that was infested with bedbugs instead of giving you your money back. WHo the hell would want to stay an extra night if the place is infested with bedbugs?! Companies often do this when a poor service issue presents itself. Its the scuzzy, cheap, half-assed way of placating a customer who has been wronged & its pathetic!

  22. Bay State Darren says:

    First the bus thing where everybody just sat through their driver’s temper tantrum, and now this. Can upset travellers please find a happy medium?

  23. sled_dog says:

    “Hey, honey, let’s take a cruise … its typhoon season!”

  24. Trai_Dep says:

    The captain should have offered Thurton Howell III the cruiseship DIY option: hop in one of the rescue pods with his Google Map printouts, and given a hearty heave-ho.

    Although, Cap’t Jack Sparrow would have offered more entertaining, imaginative options. I’d pay to have seen those…

  25. Because he captained a boat which is more vulnerable to weather than a cruise ship?

    In some ways, smaller boats are much more vulnerable to weather than big ships.

    In other ways, they aren’t.

    A small vessel can ride up and down huge waves. The Sapphire Princess, on the other hand, is a 116,000 ton super-behemoth, as long as the Queen Mary or QE2 but displacing a great deal more.

    If a ship this big tries to cross huge seas, it’ll have its ends held up by waves while the incredibly heavy middle of the ship isn’t supported by enough water to hold its weight… and seconds later, the reverse will be the case.

    Before you know it, your monster ship breaks in half, and most of the passengers don’t have time to so much as grab a life preserver.

    Objects do not get stronger as they get bigger. All things being equal, they get weaker. Once you’re talking about vessels the size of aircraft carriers (the Sapphire Princess displaces quite a lot more than a Nimitz-class nuclear carrier…) with the side profile of a a top-ten skyscraper, it pays to be damn careful where you sail, and how much crosswind you allow to start pushing you off course.

    Sail the Sapphire Princess into a typhoon off Taiwan, and even if you manage to keep the ship in one piece and the bilge pumps can keep up with the vomit, onshore winds may well mean the vessel doesn’t stay “off” Taiwan for nearly as long as you’d hoped.

  26. coren says:

    “Hey guys, I know this cruise sucked, but if you try again, we’ll let you do it for half off!”

  27. inelegy says:

    Any herd animal who goes on a cruise deserves what they get. Cruise ships are for housewives and old men.

    /43 y/o
    //off the beaten path FTW
    ///going to the Manu’a Islands in six days
    ////see ‘ya later, suckers! ;-)

  28. nursetim says:

    @Daniel Rutter:
    Look at what happened to the Edmund Fitzgerald, and that was on an inland lake.

  29. Zombietime says:

    Please… just cause you go on a cruise doesn’t mean you’re a herd animal. My wife and I had a great time. Enough with the stereotypes.

  30. drkkgt says:

    they should have taken a page out of the navy cruise book and remembered that the only ports you are guaranteed to hit, are the ones you just left.

  31. Xkeeper says:

    To everybody going on about how this isn’t actually “problem causing”, this is a news article posted only for humor. That is, it isn’t serious about actually doing any of these things. It’s meant to be funny.

    All Gawker sites tend to have these things every now and then. Helps keep things from getting too normal.

  32. EtherealStrife says:

    If I were the captain I would’ve jumped ship with my crew, after ordering up some life insurance policies for every passenger on board.

  33. HalOfBorg says:

    I bet the owners would be REAL happy to know the crew abandonded ship because some passenger had a picture from Google Earth – which was taken WHEN? Who knows?

  34. @homerjay: Real head scratcher for me as well

  35. Nighthawke says:

    A mutiny is a rebellion by the crew against their officers.

    A barrarty is a rebellion by the officers agianst the crew and their orders.

    So what would this kind of rebellion be called?

    Consumerism. And the instigators? Consumerists.

  36. goodkitty says:

    Imagine if an airplane diverted from its destination because of bad weather, turned around and went back home, and the airline kept the money for the flight anyway…

  37. homerjay says:

    @Papa Midnight: @spinachdip: Okay, I get it. I missed the sarcasm. Once in 18 months ain’t bad!

  38. timmus says:

    He stormed the bridge with Google Earth printouts, she said, and demanded to show the captain how to navigate around the storm.

    Meteorology is my career field. I wouldn’t trust anyone coming up to the bridge armed with Google Earth maps. If someone is bringing charts from METOCPH or the website, that’s a different story.

  39. Tonguetied says:

    Look if Captain Stubing says it ain’t safe then it ain’t safe!

    (I fully expect most people to not get that line.)

  40. HalOfBorg says:

    On the


  41. DrGirlfriend says:

    @Tonguetied: What, you were the only one who watched Love Boat? ;)

  42. magic8ball says:

    @Nighthawke: Barratry. Not “barrarty.”

    /snobbish English teacher

  43. gmark2000 says:

    Wow. Someone quoted the Edmund Fitzgerald. Time to listen to Gordon Lightfoot.

  44. nardo218 says:

    @cde: What’s the word?

  45. tomcatv1 says:

    I wonder how a mutiny would work being stuck in a plane for 6+ hours on a tarmac someplace with no food, water, or working toilet facilities. What am I saying, I know the answer already, the passangers would be arrested and accused of terrorism.

  46. Ausoleil says:

    The passengers would do well to know maritime law and that a captain is pretty much an autocratic master of the vessel when said vessel is at sea.

    What he or she says goes and if you don’t like it, swim.

  47. MeOhMy says:

    Life rule: Any dude who says he has “Captained a yacht” means he either calls his 15′ fishing boat a yacht or went on a harbor cruise where they let people “drive the boat” for a few minutes.

    As if even piloting a large private yacht is ANYTHING like piloting a cruise ship that is nearly 1/4 mile long.


    Cruise ships are for housewives and old men.

    No, cruise ships are for RELAXING. Call me crazy, but sometimes I like to come home from a vacation not wishing I could take another vacation to recover, so I hop a cruise every few years for a change of pace.

  48. jeff303 says:

    @inelegy: Hey now, keep that Fark outta here

  49. Wormfather says:

    @Daniel Rutter: Stopit, stopit, stopid…you will not feed me that much information on a Monday morning, not under any circumstances. Not even to save my life.

  50. Wormfather says:

    @trai_dep: …and dont even come back with that BS that you wrote it on Sunday…you knew there was a chance of it being read on a monday!

  51. AnnC says:

    @homerjay: Or you can stage a mutiny.

  52. clevershark says:

    From the story it appears that the ship wasn’t stopping anywhere — it had already missed 3 scheduled stops and was going to sail by a 4th before the passengers mutinied.

    One may reasonably infer that Princess should have cancelled or delayed the cruise, and offered refunds instead.

    FWIW I know an avid cruise-goer who wouldn’t go with Princess or Carnival even if you paid her. She’ll only go with Celebrity or better. It’s not that she’s rich, but she books those cruises months in advance, sometimes over a year. You do get what you pay for, but it also pays off to have a trustworthy travel agent.

  53. Beerad says:

    @clevershark: Would that be the travel agent who can predict typhoon weather over 12 months in the future? Because I’d like to discuss some lottery tickets with her…

  54. Jasmo says:

    I think the main problem in this situation is that cruise customers think/act like they are staying in a hotel, when really they are taking a voyage on a ship. These are two very different things, even though on the surface they might seem similar (bedrooms, restaurants, casino, etc.) If you can’t get figure out the difference between a resort hotel and a ship and the associated realities, then you should stay away from ships and stick to club med.

  55. clevershark says:

    @BEERAD: I admire your creativity in reading what I wrote, I really do.

  56. Geekybiker says:

    Seems a couple times a year I hear about some cruise ships disaster vacation. Unfortunately weather happens and you miss ports sometimes. I would be pissed and want compensation, but stage a mutiny? Not worth it. I think I’d be even more pissed about the vacation time I lost than the money. The vacation time can’t be replaced.

  57. WraithSama says:


    From what I understand, they generally don’t offer partial refunds on a cruise you’ve taken if something like this were to happen. Instead, they offer a discount toward your NEXT cruise. Nice how their reparations are designed to earn them more money.

  58. CrazyRedd says:

    Well I hope the next time there’s a bus tour somewhere and FALLING ROCKS make everyone panic, the asshole who says “I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING, I DRIVE A SEGWAY! LET ME TAKE THE STEERING DEVICE!” gets thrown out of the bus, no discounts.

  59. ExtraCelestial says:

    Omg that’s hilarious. I felt like I was reading something from The Onion.

  60. badjack128 says:

    i would avoid cruise ships in general like they are the plague. who wants to spend that much money being with people you hardly know or even like for a week with shitty food and getting seasick over rough waters.

    ick! the worst are when your dad drags you on a cruise with his girlfriends family! (Who you hate) umm not like that has happened to me or anything….

  61. Sonnymooks says:


    I do not know about this particular ship, but most cruise ships have brigs.

    Under maritime law, the captain has almost dictator like powers at sea, and these folks are lucky as hell he didn’t toss them in the brig and then hand them over to the authorities when he got back to land.

    Also, as noted earlier, only members of the crew can mutiny, not passengers.

  62. kc-guy says:

    @CelesteD: That is exactly why I don’t read The Onion. Every one of those stories come true soon enough.

  63. red.electric.sunshine says:

    I think the word they use when passengers take over a ship is “piracy”.

    I could be wrong though. >:)

  64. Sparkstalker says:

    @forgottenpassword: “It like getting ONLY a free night’s stay (as compensation )at a hotel that was infested with bedbugs instead of giving you your money back.”

    Sorry to say, it’s not even in the same league. Bedbugs, roaches, and other pests are problems that can be eliminated by competent staff. Last time I checked, cruise lines don’t have weather dominators…unless they’re a secret front for Cobra. ;)

    Seriously though, weather’s a risk with any vacation. It’s just one factor that should be considered before booking a trip. After all, if you booked a cabin in the mountains in winter and got snowed in, would you sue the cabin owner because you can’t get out and see any of the sights?

  65. abbafan320 says:

    The captain diverted the ship to avoid a storm and these people, led by an attorney (what a surprise) rebel.

    I wonder how many of them have ever been on a ship during a storm at sea. I’ve been on two, one being the Sapphire Princess about 4 years ago near Austrailia, the other being just 18 months as we sailed the Pacific on our way to Hawaii.

    It isn’t fun! On the contrary, it is a nightmare physically & psychologically. People were literally knocked down, galley doors swung open and dishes hit the floor shattering. Giant waves slammed into the ship with horrific force. And they’re mad because he avoided it?

    Princess has nothing to apologize for. If these people want an apology, or money, or compensation, maybe they should ask God.

  66. timsgm1418 says:

    I wish I could say I didn’t get it…I’m getting so old @Tonguetied:

  67. Anonymous says:

    Well, I work for Princess Cruises; I am not a spokesperson nor am I making a comment on behalf of Princess Cruises or it’s affiliates.
    I will say however, The Captain is always right. That is why he is the Captain. I sailed through storms on the Sapphire and it’s interesting to say the least. The way I look at it, if a pilot of a plane said he thought it would be too dangerous to fly — I think I would be okay with that…… duh.
    In closing, We are there for your vacation pleasure. We try our extra best to entertain you when the ship can’t dock, but sometimes “Shit Happens – no point bitching about it”