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Biofoul: The Stowaway Turning Dream Cruises Into Trips to Nowhere

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But not every passenger was in a position to weather the delay so gracefully.

One woman, who had hoped to spend the long-planned trip seeing the animals of Australia and Latest Zealand as a final hurrah together with her aging father, was always teetering on the precipice of tears. One other passenger, Ms. Goff recalled, publicly declined the offer of a compensatory voucher for a future cruise, saying that he had chosen to take the trip after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and that he didn’t expect to live long enough to take some other cruises.

“If it was true, it was heartbreaking,” Ms. Goff said.

Different cruise corporations have taken various approaches toward compensating passengers waylaid by biofouling incidents. Regent has promised passengers a refund, said Mr. Hadlock, whereas Viking offered only a single-use cruise voucher, reminiscent of the cash paid for the ticket, that expires after one 12 months.

In an announcement after the voyage, a spokesman for Viking said that “a limited amount of ordinary marine growth” had now been successfully cleaned off the ship. Those that had missed ports had been supplied with a voucher valued at one hundred pc of what passengers had paid to Viking, which might be used for “any future voyage,” he said. Passengers who had attempted to hunt money refunds said that they had been unsuccessful.

A spokeswoman for Regent acknowledged in an announcement the “inconvenience, frustration, and disappointment” the disruption had caused passengers.

In situations like these, where ports are missed due to bad weather, mechanical difficulties or emergencies like an individual falling overboard, passengers have little or no legal recourse. “You’ve to have a look at the cruise ticket to find out what rights any passenger has,” said Jim Walker, a Miami-based lawyer who focuses on cruise ships. “And there aren’t any. It only really accommodates limitations and exclusions that profit the cruise lines.”

For passengers who had traveled 1000’s of miles and saved for the trip of a lifetime, those vouchers are a difficult reminder of what might need been. Others have been left with a bitter taste of their mouths, and with inquiries to which they’ve found few answers.

Mr. Hadlock, who had been aboard the Explorer, phrased it plainly. “Passengers would still prefer to know the way this happened,” he said. “How was a significant cruise line caught so off-guard by regulations?”

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