Cruise ships will not be gracing the Halifax waterfront this summer, as Transport Canada announced they have extended the ban on cruise ships until Oct 31. Cruise ships were originally banned until July 1 in Canada. CDC Rules in the US had cruises suspended until July 24 in US waters, which effectively meant that they were not happening in Canadian waters, as most cruises to Halifax originate in the US.
The only cruise scheduled to call in Halifax after Oct 31 was the Silver Whisper. That cruise is canceled as well, as it was supposed to depart Montreal Oct 27.
This morning I received an email from a crew member on a cruise ship. name and locations have been removed, for reasons that will become obvious later on. Below is Edited, but entirely her words.
I am looking to share my ongoing story of being held captive on a ship during the COVID-19 outbreak. It is currently my Day 79 at sea, and Day 27 past the expiry of my contract as an expedition crew member onboard.
I have 11 years of experience … This year, I signed up to work onboard a cruise ship as a kayak guide and zodiac driver and quickly found a contract with <cruise company> onboard the <Cruise ship>. I embarked on January 28th in <city> with the intention of finishing my first contract onboard on March 20th in <end point>.
We were lucky; we never had the virus onboard. When we arrived early in <end point> on the 18th of March, borders were still open. We were told that the company policy was always to allow “passengers first” and we would be obligated to wait until the very last passenger had disembarked before we would be considered for disembarkation. After that last passenger had left, the <end point> Government closed its port for all crew changes and we were told we would be staying onboard indefinitely. On March 24th, we were told the company was intending to reposition its ship, and with the excess crew including myself still onboard and we set sail towards <Mediterranean Port>, despite many ports in Africa and South America remaining open for crew changes.
Somewhere south of the Equator the company changed their minds and ordered the Captain to change course towards the ______ Islands, where we were expected to arrive on April 15th. We were guaranteed flights home from there, as long as we singed new contracts that slashed our pay. We were threatened by our supervisors that if we did not sign the new contracts, we would be terminated and not repatriated back to our home countries. Those contracts expire today, with our pay now reduced to 0% of our original rates.
This morning, we were informed by the Captain that we would be arriving in the ______ Islands, but there would be no flights waiting for us from there; the company deemed the cost of chartering a flight to take us off the islands to be too high. Instead, we would be embarking 250 new crew members from the company’s sister ships (<ship 1 and <Ship 2>) and setting sail again for <Northern European Country>. The <ship 1> has had confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard, and we are now to embark their crew onto our vessel and spend a further two weeks sailing towards the <Northern European Country> at full capacity. We were told the decision was made in the best financial interests of the company. As crew members, we are independent contractors and not employees of this company. We are also not being paid while onboard, though we are still expected to carry out our crew duties.
We have been told we have no choice in the matter, and we are not going willingly. We have been threatened that if details of this situation gets to the media, our internet onboard will be shut off. The situation onboard is becoming dire. We are terrified at the idea of having 450 individuals crammed onto a cruise ship for a minimum of two weeks. We are terrified of the idea of experiencing an outbreak, with only one doctor and one nurse and a small first aid room onboard. We are terrified of being turned away from all future ports, and we are terrified of not being able to be back home with our families during these trying times. We are all being held captive onboard as this company exercises every opportunity to practice financial austerity over the best interests of the human beings that are still onboard.
We have wanted nothing but to disembark this ship since the 18th of March. We were told the best we could expect is to be allowed to disembark by the 1st of May.
I am sharing my story in hopes that the company has a chance to comment on their actions and the decisions that they have made with our lives in the greater public sphere. I hope that Canadians become aware that there are still many citizens aboard that are still trying to make it back home, but are physically unable to do so.
I have refereed the situation to the ITF – the International Transport Workers federation. the actions of the Cruise company are in violation of the Maritime Labour Convention.
The Author of the email is a Canadian, and the Ship has called on Halifax in the past.
The Resolute had been heading north with no destination or ETA.
RCGS Resolute arrived off the north coast of Trinidad late on March 25th and stopped overnight. On the morning of the 26th she rendezvoused with the tanker Kerkyra, out of Port of Spain, Trinidad, and presumably refueled.
the ship then continued sailing when the ship suddenly began reporting that it was not under command on March 29 about 60 nautical miles off the north coast of Venezuela. the ship drifting at 1.knots less than 20 nautical miles off the uninhabited island of La Tortuga at 13:00 ET.
Not under command is a navigational status indicating that the ship is unable to Maneuver in the water, and all vessels must keep clear.
9 nautical miles off La Tortuga island, and after several hours the ship began steaming again to the west giving Willemstad Curacao as the destination.
In a story that probably couldn’t get much weirder, it now appears the RCGS Resolute collided with and Sunk the Venezuelan Offshore patrol Vessel GC-23 Naiguata at 00:45 on the 30th. the ship gave Willemstad Curacao as its destination yesterday, and arrived this morning where it remains at anchor.
On March 30, 2020, at 00:45, the Coast Guard «Naiguatá» (GC-23), of the Bolivarian Navy, being in maritime patrol tasks of our territorial sea, to the northwest of La Tortuga Island; It was boarded (collided) by the passenger ship “Resolute”, (122 meters long and 8300 tons of displacement), with the Portuguese flag, at the time it was undergoing a maritime traffic control procedure, which caused damage of great magnitude and caused the anxiety of the aforementioned coastguard.
The action of the ship «Resolute» is considered cowardly and criminal, since it did not attend to the rescue of the crew, in breach of the international regulations that regulate the rescue of life at sea. This ship is currently in the port of Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao, where it docked in the morning of today.
Our immediate search and rescue work, together with the professional and courageous performance of our personnel, allowed the full rescue of the crew. The Venezuelan State undertakes the corresponding legal actions.
Chávez lives!… The Homeland continues!
Independence and Socialist Homeland! … We will live and win!
Always loyal!… Traitors never!
In another statement, the Venezuelan government claims the ship was Illegally in Venezuelan waters. the statement reads (Again via google translate)
Miraflores Palace, Caracas.– The head of state and government of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro Moros, asked the Curaçao authorities for maximum collaboration in the investigations of the Portuguese-flagged ship that entered the jurisdictional waters of Venezuela illegally.
“We ask for the greater collaboration of the maritime, civil, police and military authorities of Curaçao and we will maintain coordination,” said the national president, also denouncing that this ship, docked from the morning hours in the city of Willemstad, collided against the Coast Guard «Naiguatá» (GC-23), causing its collapse, which was described as an act of aggression and piracy.
Last Monday after midnight, the passenger ship “Resolute”, measuring 122 meters long and 8,300 tons of displacement, reached Venezuelan waters, 7 miles from La Tortuga Island, activating the Strategic Operational Command for what that a Venezuelan coast guard ship set sail to board this vessel.
For his part, the Minister of Popular Power for Defense, Vladimir Padrino López, explained that the Venezuelan vessel activated the protocols established in international treaties, where he was ordered to go to the port of Margarita. “Being escorted, he decided to ram the Bolivarian navy ship, which caused its sinking,” he said.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Popular Power for Defense have initiated the corresponding formalities at the diplomatic and military levels, respectively, to clarify this case.
However, the Venezuelan state authorities do not rule out the hypothesis that it is a ship that “was transporting mercenaries to attack military bases in Venezuela, unloading them out there on the high seas.”
“In the early morning hours of the 30th of March 2020 (local time), the cruise vessel RCGS RESOLUTE has been subject to an act of aggression by the Venezuelan Navy in international waters, around 13.3 nautical miles from Isla de Tortuga with 32 crew member and no passengers on board.
When the event occurred, the cruise vessel RCGS RESOLUTE has already been drifting for one day off the coast of the island to conduct some routine engine maintenance on its idle voyage to its destination, Willemstad/ Curaçao. As maintenance was being performed on the starboard main engine, the port main engine was kept on standby to maintain a safe distance from the island at any time.
Shortly after mid-night, the cruise vessel was approached by an armed Venezuelan navy vessel, which via radio questioning the intentions of the RCGS RESOLUTE’s presence and gave the order to follow to Puerto Moreno on Isla De Margarita. As the RCGS RESOLUTE was sailing in international waters at that time, the Master wanted to reconfirm this particular request resulting into a serious deviation from the scheduled vessel’s route with the company DPA.
While the Master was in contact with the head office, gun shots were fired and, shortly thereafter, the navy vessel approached the starboard side at speed with an angle of 135° and purposely collided with the RCGS RESOLUTE. The navy vessel continued to ram the starboard bow in an apparent attempt to turn the ship’s head towards Venezuelan territorial waters.
While the RCGS RESOLUTE sustained minor damages, not affecting vessel’s seaworthiness, it occurs that the navy vessel suffered severe damages while making contact with the ice-strengthened bulbous bow of the ice-class expedition cruise vessel RCGS RESOLUTE and started to take water.
Ready to support anytime, the RCGS RESOLUTE remained for over one hour in vicinity of the scene and reached out to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Curaçao. This is an international body which oversees any maritime emergencies. All attempts to contact those on board the navy ship have been left unanswered.
Only after receiving the order to resume passage full ahead by the MRCC and that further assistance is not required, the RCGS RESOLUTE, currently safely moored in the port of Willemstad, continued sailing towards her destination at Curaçao. A full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident will now be carried out.”
The RCGS Resolute is Flagged in Portugal, and the Portuguese Government is currently in a diplomatic spat with Venezuela, which centered around president Maduros claim that Juan Guaido, who many see as the legitimate president of Venezuela, imported explosives via TAP – the Portuguese national airline. Portugal also recognizes Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of the country.
Other Nations have in the past has attempted to size ships of other nations over disputes – most notably Iran.
UPDATE: Looks like they tried to hide the loss of the ship by changing the AIS on a tug in Harbour
Before it became obvious that they would not be able to hide the sinking of the Naiguana the regime had the AIS transponder from one of the tug boats in La Guaira harbour changed to match the Naiguana, making it appear as if she was in port and not sunk 180 meters underwater. 🤦 pic.twitter.com/sx0yTj4Pqy
The Port of Halifax has delayed The 2020 cruise season until July 1. This does not apply to smaller vessels carrying 500 people or less (passengers plus crew). This follows the direction provided by Transport Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Yesterday Princess cruises suspended operations for 2 months, Viking Cruises cancelled trips for 2 months, and Virgin delayed the inaugural season of their ship Scarlet Lady.
The Port Authority also announced that The Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market building will not open on Saturday, March 14, 2020. This is to contain the spread of COVID-19. The building will remain closed indefinitely.
Infections seem to spread like wildfire aboard Cruise ships, and a ban seems like a prudent health measure. Recent incidents include:
The Grand Princess, which tied up in Oakland yesterday, after holding offshore due to virus concerns. 228 Canadians were repatriated and will now be quarantined at CFB Trenton for 14 days.
Regal Princess and Caribbean Princess were held off Florida pending the testing of crew members who were previously aboard the Grand Princess. Those crew transferred more the 14 days before the current voyage, and are asymptomatic. Regal Princess has called in Halifax in previous years.
the Costa Fortuna was turned away by several ports over Covid 19 Fears. Costa Luminosa Denied port call at Antigua. Costa is also a Carnival brand.
MSC Cruises have serveral ships denied port calls over virus concerns.
Egypt has reported cases among passengers on a Nile River Cruise.
The Diamond Princess earlier suffered hundreds of cases off Japan. Canadians were also repatriated to Trenton from this ship.
Carnival Corp, the parent of Princess Cruises, is obviously feeling the heat after some very public concerns about the virus on its ships. Carnival Brand Holland America Lines recently changed its cancellation policy, and tweeted that it was being inundated with requests. Holland America Calls (almost) weekly for the duration of the cruise season.
The RCGS Resolute sailed from Buenos Aires on the 5th, giving a destination of “For Order”, but an ETA of the 15th. The ship is currently making 6.1kn off the coast of Brazil. the ETA puts it around Rio De Janeiro if current speed continues. I have heard that Fred Olsen Cruises may be interested in Chartering the ship.
The ship was arrested in Buenos Aires, this past October over several unpaid bills.The ships owner stepped in to pay the outstanding amounts rather then risk loosing the vessel in a court ordered sale. The Ships Owners, BUNNYS ADVENTURE & CRUISE SHIPPING COMPANY is Privately held, and was registered in the Bahamas in 1993.
A source in Argentina told me that claims were settled for 2 bunkers suppliers (European), 3 agencies from Panama, Costa Rica and Argentina, and 22 crew members. There were some other claims that also settled with the ships owners.
Despite claims of entering some form of formal bankruptcy proceeding, One Ocean has yet to do so.
The 2020 cruise season in Halifax will start on April 11 with the arrival of
Norwegian Star, a Norwegian Cruise Lines vessel. The season will run until November 3.
for the 2020 season the Port of Halifax is expecting 203 vessel calls carrying approximately 350,000 cruise guests. For local tourism providers, planning for the upcoming season is well underway.
2020 Halifax Cruise highlights include:
Eleven (11) scheduled inaugural calls in 2020, starting with the arrival of Norwegian Star on April 11 and flowed by Hanseatic Inspiration (May 20), Empress of the Seas (May 23), Amsterdam (June 1), Norwegian Pearl (June 8), Oasis of the Seas (June 25), Island Princess (Aug 6), Carnival Radiance (Sept 11), Norwegian Encore (Sept 12), Amundsen (Sept 13), and Evrima (Sept 25)
Four (4) visits from Queen Mary 2 on July 1-2, August 2, September 23 and October 21
Two (2) visits from Disney Magic on October 10 and October 19
September 25 is expected to be the busiest passenger day with over 10,000 cruise guests on five vessels
This week in the Herald, I outline the likely cause of one oceans troubles, and some of their shoddy practices. I have spoken with several former crew, and others associated with OOE, and pretty much everyone is willing to talk.
of the crew members I spoke with indicated that auctions were held on
board ship to raise money for various Non-governmental organizations.
She suggested It was an open secret that the NGO’s were not receiving
the funds. This story was also corroborated by another crew member told
me that one of the signature items available for onboard auction was a
Nautical Chart of the Voyage, marked with ship’s positions and course,
and then decorated with images of area wildlife. These charts typically
sold in the $2000-4000usd range, and 10-12 were produced on various
spoke with Ron Naveen, the president of Oceanites. The organization has
for the past 25 years conducted a Antarctic penguin survey, and had
researchers travel aboard One Ocean ships. Ron indicated that One Ocean
had been a good partner in supporting their work, and had raised money
for the organization, however One Ocean was always slow to pass on funds
raised, and is currently 2 years behind in remitting funds raised.
believes the losses to Oceanites are in the 6 figures, both from funds
raised but not delivered, and from future fundraising conducted by
other organizations on OOE Cruises. He has also had to find other
companies to facilitate the work they do.
Geiger, the CEO of The Royal Canadian Geographic Society also indicated
they had suffered losses, but were unable to detail what they were or
the amounts as the organizations board had yet to be briefed. The
Society granted the use of the RCGS honorific to OOE’s ship Resolute, in
recognition of OOE’s stong support of research in polar regions.
According to its website, OOE started the One Ocean Foundation in 2017 “to house the growing financial contributions from both passengers and One Ocean Expeditions.”
the One Ocean Foundation is a registered Charity in Richmond Hill Ont. Its CRA Filings list three trustees, William J Trotter , Emily R Trotter , and James D Trotter. The foundation shares an address with Wm. J. Trotter & Associates, an accounting firm. BEDI Management, which was also identified as one oceans accounting firm is also located at that address. BEDI management also showed up on credit card statements when down payments were made.
Information posted on CRA’s website show the foundation received 25,000 in revenue in 2018 – Grieger told me transfers to their organization, when they occurred, were in the $30-40,000 range, which suggests that the foundation was at best only receiving a portion of the funds raised.
Are you owed money or had a trip canceled by One Ocean? Contact me at email@example.com
The Story of One Ocean is Interesting, and began after I tweeted a link to a CBC Piece. Shortly after, I was contacted by a Nova Scotia woman, who was part of the canceled cruise. That was the impetuous for this piece in Friday’s Herald.
The RCGS Resolute’s latest trip was canceled after it had barely got underway. The ship sailed from Buenos Aries on October 19th at 19:30. 2 days later the ship would stop in Puerto Madryn for fuel. after 2 days, sufficient fuel could not be obtained, and One Ocean Expeditions canceled the cruise, and the ship would be returning to Buenos Aires. The Ship arrived the in Buenos Aries the morning of the 27th. and the passengers disembarked.
One Ocean then posted this Statement to its Facebook page. Despite the Note that the page is not monitored, someone is reportedly actively deleting negative comments left on the post.
Hot on the trail of Unpaid Bills, I have now spoken with 3 crew, I now believe OOE owes at least $1,000,000 cdn to former crew.
on board the ship work as contractors. They sign on for a contract on a
fixed term. In the case of OOE, the contracts were structured so 50% of
the value of the contract was paid over the term of the contract every
30 days, and the remaining 50% 60 days after completion. While pay
underway was often late, the majority of what is owed appears to be this
post contract 50%. In most cases this amounts to over $10,000US per
person. there are over 60 people waiting for payment.
By Contrast, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines pays on the 15th and 30th of every month. So if you have a 6 month contract, the value is divided into 12 pay periods – just like working a normal job.
Two of the former crew I spoke too were part of the action that saw the ship arrested in Halifax. One who requested to remain anonymous, discovered the RCGS Resolute was in port when her new ship tied up next to it. A phone call to a lawyer began the proceeding to get the ship arrested.
former crew of the Resolute were able to take part in the action
against the ship in Halifax. That does little for those who only served
on the 2 Russian vessels recalled by their owner in May, or were unable
to participate. Those 8 were fortunate and were paid in full.
Guzzo was the named party on the Suite. He worked in the Hotelling
section on board the resolute since 2016, and was owed $11,600US. He is
still working in Antarctica, for another firm, and says by comparison
OOE was slave labour. His current employer has better pay, and shorter hours.
second crew member who wished to remain anonymous told me that some
crew who were owed money received a payment of 3000$ in July. Regardless
of what was owed. She is out about $12,000cdn.
is able to get staff to overlook poor conditions due to the allure of
working in exotic polar locations. But it seems a fair number of staff
still believe the company is good for the money, despite being strung
along and ignored for over a year. The staff who don’t want to be named
tell me they don’t want to be seen attacking the company, in hopes the
loyalty and good will see them paid sooner.
Have also been told one ocean has yet to remit funds raised for an NGO.
Cruises host auctions to raise money, and OOE’s website says 250,000us
is raised every year. This has apparently been an open secret onboard
the ships for at least 2 years. I have reached out to a couple of
organizations that appeared on One oceans website for comment.
One Oceans Next cruise is scheduled to depart Nov 6, The company is silent, and some passengers for that trip have flights Thursday.
UPDATE Oct 31 23:20: the November 6 Departure is now Apparently Canceled. A Person booked on the cruise, and was flying down today received word from their travel agent while sitting on their Aircraft with a Flight Delay. they have not yet received official word from OOE.
UPDATE Nov 1. I heard from Terragelida Ship Management, whom OOE had chartered both the Akademik Ioffe and the Sergey Vallov from. Ivan Budarin told me that the Ioffe was extensively damaged in its grounding, but was repaired and went on the serve the Antarctic season as scheduled. OOE however declined to assist Terragelida in the rescue and repairs, and Terragelida is now commenced legal proceedings in London to recover expenses.
I also found another passenger from the aborted cruise, who is now on a Brizilian trip, thanks the good work of his tour operator Rockjumper Tours, whom everyone is raving about.
UPDATE Nov 2, 0848: Looking further into the arrangement between Terragelida and OOE. The Cape Breton Spectator told the story of how the arrangement really ended, and appears to not match what OOE has publicly said.
In an additional question to Terragelida, i was able to confirm that Terragelida also provided crew with the Ships. so it would have been someone working for Terragelida, and not OOE who ran the ship into the rock in Nunavut. That might explain the reluctance of OOE to pay for salvage and repairs.
One of the Expedition crew i spoke with was on board at the time of the grounding. She reported that the seabed that the ship grounded on was not on the chart.
UPDATE Nov 2, 2100: While detained in Canada in September, the ship underwent a port state control inspection. Payment of wages was a noted deficiency in that inspection. During its 48 hour stop over in Rio, Oct 14, the Brazilian Gov also performed a Port State control inspection, Finding no Deficiencies.
Unlike the Russian vessels, RCGS Resolute looks to be crewed by Columbia Cruise Services based in Hamburg Germany. The registered owner of the ship since 1998 is the Bahamas registered company Bunnys Cruise and Adventure.
There is now a Facebook group setup for people who have booked trips to exchange information. Included is the letter that canceled the Nov 6th trip. OOE is still offering a replacement cruise.
UPDATE Nov 3 2345: hearing from more people owed money, and missing out on trips. I’m putting together a time line to help understand everything that has gone on. I discovered 2 additional suits in federal court. on Aug 8, OOE filed a claim against the Ioffe. on Aug 31, Inland life rafts and marine claimed against the resolute.
I also heard that a July East coast cruise had 3 stops skipped as the resolute sought fuel in Placentia Bay NL, after it was unavailable in Sydney.
UPDATE Nov 05: It appears this law firm https://www.venetucci.net has the RCGS Resolute under arrest in Bunoes Aires Argentina over unpaid fuel bills. I have reached out to the firm to find out what is owed. still working on fundraising issues, and now alleged safety and pollution problems.
UPDATE Nov 6: Received an update that the ship was infact arrested November 1 in Buenos Aires on behalf of Danish Bunker traders. Have been doing alot of background research on One Ocean – i get the sense it was generally a slap-shod operation. More to come.
A New communication Has come out from OOE, stating they foresee no future cancellations. at this time. The next cruise is due to sail Nov 21. they my see the need to cancel it Nov 20th.
UPDATE Nov 7: I have added a timeline of relevant events. I am told that Payments to Terragelida stopped shortly after cruises resumed on the Ioffe in January 2019. Damage to the Ioffe was in excess of 7 million dollars, and 41tons of steel was replaced. machinery and Scientific equipment was also damaged.
OOE Announces the RCGS Resolute.
Akademik Ioffe runs aground in the Arctic.
Akademik Ioffe pax arrive in Edmonton.
Akademik Ioffe temp repairs are complete, sails for inspection
Akademik Ioffe sails Les Mechins PQ, where Verreault Navigation
Akademik Ioffe arrives at shipyard for repairs It sounds like the length of time needed for repairs was extended by 10 days a few times..
RCGS Resolute re-commissioned in Sydney NS
RCGS Resolute maiden cruise in Antarctica
Akademik Ioffe leaves the shipyard and heads south to begin Antarctic season late
Pax told the cruise scheduled for the 22nd would now leave on the 24th, and be modified.
Akademik Ioffe Cruses
Passengers with bookings on Akademik Ioffe and Vavilov notified of cancelations. promises refunds in 90 days
OOE Release that Akademik Ioffe and Sergey Vavilov taken back by Russians
Sergey Vavilov is withdrawn by Terragelida.
P.P. Shirshov institute says they have a good contract with Terragelida ship Management. Not OOE.
Terragelida terminates Akademik Ioffe contract.
July 20 -30
RCGS Resolute alters schedule to find fuel in Placentia Bay, skipping 3 stops on Labrador and Torngat Mountains Explorer Trip.
OOE Sues the Akademik Ioffe in federal Court t-1290-19
RCGS Resolute Arrested in Nunavut. Sails 8 hours later. 100k owed to Atship Services.
RCGS Resolute Arrested in Halifax – 8 former crew are paid
Resolute sails for Antarctic season.
reports that one ocean has been stringing along people in need of refunds from paid for trips on the Russian ships appears on trip advisor
RCGS Resolute Cruise Departs Buenos Aires at 1930.
Resolute stops in Puerto Madryn for fuel
Unable to obtain fuel, OOE cancels cruise at 13:30, ship sails back to Buenos Aries
RCGS Resolute returns to Buenos Aries
OOE Cancels next cruise scheduled to depart Nov 6. INLAND LIFERAFTS & MARINE LIMITED filed a claim in federal court against the resolute
RCGS Resolute Arrested in Buenos Aries, by unpaid Danish Bunker Broker.
OOE Has also canceled the Nov 6 cruise with a letter.
UPDATE Nov 20: A new letter has been received with an update.
I also received the following comments about the Fins and Fiddles trip this past summer, from a tour group leader.
STAFF The speakers were amazing and very knowledgeable. The zodiac drivers were great and the boat crew fine. ( what I had not raise in the original letter was that the zodiac drivers turned up late and some did not have a ticket and the ship was boarded by SYDNEY officials to interview all the drivers. Not sure what it was about but looked like some of the zodiac crew not licensed. ) SYDNEY NOVA SCOTIA No airport transfer on arrival for 15 people. Poor oversight by office. Your emergency number did not answer. ( this is a big deal when you arrive late at night – on flights they organised – and there is no one to meet you or explain anything. We all got taxis to the hotel )
DAY 1 DRIVE TO LOUISBERG No welcome announcement on bus or general instructions over bus PA. I was not going to mention it but some of your other Canadian customers mentioned it to me and were surprised that there was no official welcome followed by instructions. ( really slack !! )
FOOD Personally I enjoyed the food and the serving staff were excellent. From speaking with our clients and other passengers a few points came up that bear consideration. The dinning presentation formula which consisted of – one meat, one fish, one vegetarian and salad became repetitive. The meat and fish was almost always on a bed of barely pearl. Which was very nice but every night became a bit tiresome. Two of my fish meals were inedible. Either too tough or uncooked. The BBQs were great and a welcome change. The dinning room was very hot, stuffy and noisy and all our group complained about this fact. The queues for salads were also quite long and irritating.
ZODIAC DEPARTURES Unfortunately many of your guests ( both ours and other Canadians) had already been with other companies so they frequently made comparisons. The major daily complaint was that almost the whole boat turned up for Zodiac departures at the same time. This caused congestion and confusion. Our clients who had been with other companies said that on other boat trips the ship had been divided into groups.
For example the first group one was advised to depart at say 0900. Group two was advised to leave at 0930 etc. No confusion or congestion almost no waiting.
Some members became quite agitated with very long waiting times. One particular day my wife waited over one hour for a Zodiac departure. Far more sensible to anticipate how long it takes and have passengers attend when the Zodiacs are actually ready – as other companies do. (Does not sound too bad but at the time it pissed many people off. On one day I could see that the ocean was probably going to be too choppy. But the leader advised everyone to get dressed to go into the zodiacs. So everyone got ready, went out and then waited and waited and then told it was cancelled due to rough seas. I am not a sailor but could see in two seconds that the zodiacs would not be going out. THEN on another occasion when the seas were calm zodiacs were cancelled due to rough weather. That was when we were supposed to visit a local historic village on one of the French islands. They probably did not have enough money for the entrance fees. )
MUD ROOM Additionally our clients said that their wet weather gear was often lost in the mud room. I have been advised that other companies have specific numbered cupboards in the mud room for passengers gear so nothing goes missing and the cabins are less cluttered. The One Ocean mud room was generally a mess with boots everywhere. However the life jackets were generally neat and tidy.
THE BAR far too small and many did not attend talks due to stuffy confined environment.
ANNOUNCEMENTS Not always audible in certain areas of the boat. When senior staff were in the zodiacs there were sometimes no announcements and guests went down and waited assuming that it was time.
THE LAST DAY On the final day no one was in the bar to serve coffee and passengers were going behind the bar to serve themselves. No mugs were on the rack and passengers were opening the dish washer to get them. I should add that the coffee machine was faulty and did not often work.
SUMMARY Finally I must reiterate that I enjoyed the trip but that I heard a lot of people complaining. Everything else aside if you address the zodiac boarding and mud room issues, it would go a long way to making the voyage more enjoyable.