1 Day Cruise Mess in Vancouver-News Article


Cruise Gypsy

Hi Everyone,

My husband and I were on the 10 day Amigos cruise and had a wonderful time. We had booked the one day cruise on the Golden from Vancouver BC to Seattle departing yesterday (May 4th). We live in Seattle and figured we would take the train to Vancouver hop on the Golden to bring us home for a short vacation. We would have loved to stay on ship in San Francisco and go all the way back to Seattle but it violates the Jones Act.

Anyway, what a nightmare. We arrived at the Vancouver Cruise terminal at about noon yesterday and finally boarded the ship SIX hours later at 6.00pm. I won't go into all the details because this news article covers the whole thing very well.
Traffic snarls as 8,800 cruise passengers hit city streets
Vancouver's 'perfect storm': No taxis to be had, problems with SkyTrain, streets congested or closed because of construction

Catherine Rolfsen,
Vancouver Sun; With Files From Kelly Sinoski
Published: Saturday, May 05, 2007

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A perfect storm of traffic meant long waits for thousands of cruise ship passengers in downtown Vancouver Friday.
As four cruise ships disembarked about 8,800 passengers at Canada Place and nearby Ballantyne Pier, some waited for hours to get home and to hotels as they faced a shortage of taxis, downtown Canada Line construction, and a SkyTrain shutdown.
A fatality at Metrotown SkyTrain station saw the transit service disrupted Friday morning, with some stations closed and the train running only on a single track for a period. Foul play was not suspected in connection with the death.
John and Pina Discusso of Vancouver were still waiting at the taxi stand outside the Pan Pacific Hotel in Downtown Vancouver at 2:30 p.m., although they said their Norwegian Cruise Lines ship had docked at 8 a.m.
They said because of security and luggage hold-ups, they didn't get off the ship until 12:30 p.m. When they finally cleared customs, they called a taxi company only to be told it was "too busy."
They sent two of their eight-member group home to fetch their car.
"Everywhere you go, there's a lineup," said Pina. The couple and their family group of six had just arrived from Los Angeles, where they had become used to the lines at Disneyland.
"If trips are like this, I don't want to do too many," said John.
Greg Wirtz, manager of cruise services at the Vancouver Port Authority, was down by the docks Friday afternoon trying to direct throngs of frazzled passengers.
"We knew this was coming," said Wirtz. He warned passengers and taxi companies of an estimated 3,500 so-called independent travellers looking for one of Vancouver's 481 taxis.
Wirtz said the situation was worse because two of the ships were late. At 2:45 p.m., he said, they had just seen off the last of the disembarking passengers looking for transit out of the terminal.
Wirtz said there had been a "huge level of cooperation amongst the cab companies," and all had sent their managers to the scene. He also said taxis from other jurisdictions had been picking up passengers at the terminal, with local companies "turning a blind eye."
Don McColl, a dispatcher with Blacktop Cabs, said cabbies were tied up most of the day dealing with passengers from the four cruise ships and the airport.
"All the cabs get locked up doing [cruise ship passengers] so people in the West End are always waiting for cabs," McColl said. "They all disappear."
But by 4:30 p.m. Friday, he said, the demand had petered out, with no calls waiting for cabs at that time.
Once the disembarking passengers were gone, Wirtz had to deal with thousands of passengers waiting to board, some of whom he said would likely wait for three to four hours.
"There was no way to plan for this," Wirtz said.
But Maryanne Coyle of Cumberland said the harbour and the cruise lines could have done a lot more to mitigate the effects of the chaos on passengers. After waiting for an hour to board an overnight ship to Seattle, Coyle said she had received little communication and seen no signage telling them what to do or how long they might be standing in line.
Karen and Fred Pringle of Victoria were waiting near the rear of the seemingly endless line to board their cruise ship to Alaska. They said this was the busiest they've ever seen the port in their four cruise vacations. They said they arrived late to get in the line because of downtown road construction.
"At least it's not raining -- so far," said Fred.


The article calls the whole thing "The Perfect Storm" and if you were there it felt like you were in the middle of multiple hurricanes. While there were several events that were beyond the cruiselines and the ports control, but here are the areas I think that Princess let it's passengers down:

1. COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION - My understanding is that the Golden didn't complete debarkation until 1:00 or 2:00 (we weren't on this cruise so I am taking 2nd hand info). Anyway, Princess knew embarkation would be delayed significantly and we were all traveling light (1 night Cruise), couldn't they have told us that and gave people the choice to get out of line and when to come back. Boarding was listed as between Noon and 3:00 so I am sure many people stayed in line not wanting to miss the ship's boarding. Every Princess person just told us to get in line and blame the whole thing on customs and the ship's late arrival.

2. BE FLEXIBLE - We finally boarded at 6:00 with a long line still behind us and left port at 7:00 but the main dining room and other restaurants still closed at 10:00. Many people missed their seating times and could not get into the restaurants for dinner.

3. STEP UP TO PLATE A LITTLE - We got no compensation from Princess at all. All we got was a simple apology from the Captain over the PA blaming customs. I would have been happy a free drink.

Anyway, thanks for letting rant for awhile and I would love to hear other comments regarding this incident.


Stuff Happens!
It was a one day cruise cost just a few bucks.
No big deal.
Most blame should be on the port for not having enough staff, the city for not allowing taxies in because of security concerns, and the port authority for allowing it to all come together so poorly.

Lady Jag

I would never expect anything from the cruise line for this. There were 4 ships in port at once. Would you expect every ship to comp. every passenger a drink? That's over 8,800 free drinks for a very inexpensive cruise to begin with. =eek I'm sure the communication broke down for the other ships too.

It must've been a nightmare. I can imagine how frustrating it would've been. I probably would've been tempted to start walking toward the airport if I were those people getting off the ships, just out of sheer frustration.

There are some things passengers can do to minimize the confusion. Anyone can check to see how many ships will be in port on any given day. If there are a lot, then people should prepare themselves for the mess by arranging private transfers instead of relying on taxis.

Thanks for posting this, though. :thumb I had no idea YVR only had 481 taxis!!! For the cruise business they do, you'd think they'd have more!