A stock image of a cruise ship - not the boat involved in the story.
A stock image of a cruise ship - not the boat involved in the story. Warren Lynam

What happened when a luxury cruise went wrong

On the fourth day of our luxury small ship cruise from Venice to Istanbul, our very new ship ran into the pier while docking in Split in Croatia.

We (my husband and I) only felt a rather significant thump but the ship sustained a hole in the stern about a metre square; I later saw two men in the hole while repairing it. Because it took three days to repair, we were stuck near Split (the shipyard was in Trogir) for an extra two days.

Well I can think of worse places to be stuck. But not all of the passengers felt the same way.

In fact the 240 passengers were divided in to those (like us) who thought while we are still eating fine French food, drinking as much as we like, sleeping in our beautiful cabins and enjoying the extra tours what is there to complain about - let's call us "the reasonable" - as compared to "the unreasonable" who grumbled about what a disgrace this incident was, and constantly questioned how many ports we were we going to miss and put the captain under pressure whenever he appeared. It's very hard to hide on a ship of this size.

 

A few days after the incident we returned to our cabin to find a letter from APT (cruise operators) stating that on returning home each cabin would receive a cheque for $500 as compensation for the inconvenience caused. Well we thought this was fine but "the unreasonable" were heard to mutter, "Why should single passengers get $500 each while we doubles only get the same between us?" See what I mean? When have single travellers ever done better than couples?

We were feeling a little out of our league on this cruise; there were some very wealthy (and snobbish) people on board. But there were also some lovely people and we found our perfect six for dinner on about day three. They were definitely in the reasonable group and we quickly found that laughter is a great leveller.

At one dinner, the conversation centred around yachts we have owned (one was having his newest sailed back for him from Istanbul to Sydney) and rather than opting out of the conversation my sidekick casually mentioned that we had a blow up dinghy under the bed in the back room at home. That broke them up.

The standout among our replacement tours from Trogir was a scenic 30-minute coach tour along the coast, via a mountain road to Omis, a very picturesque town situated at the mouth of the Cetina River where we boarded a river boat and headed up the river. We were amazed and delighted by the lush greenery and adventure sports going on around us.

So what did we miss?

• Korcula, in Croatia at which one of the main attractions is the Marco Polo House

• Mytilene, Greece, the capital and port of the island of Lesbos.

• Otranto, our only Italian port: This had nothing to do with the hold up in Split; the sea was a bit rough when we were preparing to sail in and the port authority refused to let the captain put the tenders down even though he was prepared to guarantee our safety. At this stage I believe our normally well mannered, quietly spoken captain had a bit of a meltdown referring to the port officer as "a stupid idiot" - who could blame him; it has been a trying voyage for him.

Zagreb, Croatia
Zagreb, Croatia Supplied

On the fourth day of our luxury small ship cruise from Venice to Istanbul, our very new ship ran into the pier while docking in Split in Croatia.

We (my husband and I) only felt a rather significant thump but the ship sustained a hole in the stern about a metre square; I later saw two men in the hole while repairing it. Because it took three days to repair, we were stuck near Split (the shipyard was in Trogir) for an extra two days.

Well I can think of worse places to be stuck. But not all of the passengers felt the same way.

In fact the 240 passengers were divided in to those (like us) who thought while we are still eating fine French food, drinking as much as we like, sleeping in our beautiful cabins and enjoying the extra tours what is there to complain about - let's call us "the reasonable" - as compared to "the unreasonable" who grumbled about what a disgrace this incident was, and constantly questioned how many ports we were we going to miss and put the captain under pressure whenever he appeared. It's very hard to hide on a ship of this size.

A few days after the incident we returned to our cabin to find a letter from APT (cruise operators) stating that on returning home each cabin would receive a cheque for $500 as compensation for the inconvenience caused. Well we thought this was fine but "the unreasonable" were heard to mutter, "Why should single passengers get $500 each while we doubles only get the same between us?" See what I mean? When have single travellers ever done better than couples?

We were feeling a little out of our league on this cruise; there were some very wealthy (and snobbish) people on board. But there were also some lovely people and we found our perfect six for dinner on about day three. They were definitely in the reasonable group and we quickly found that laughter is a great leveller.

At one dinner, the conversation centred around yachts we have owned (one was having his newest sailed back for him from Istanbul to Sydney) and rather than opting out of the conversation my sidekick casually mentioned that we had a blow up dinghy under the bed in the back room at home. That broke them up.

The standout among our replacement tours from Trogir was a scenic 30-minute coach tour along the coast, via a mountain road to Omis, a very picturesque town situated at the mouth of the Cetina River where we boarded a river boat and headed up the river. We were amazed and delighted by the lush greenery and adventure sports going on around us.

So what did we miss?

• Korcula, in Croatia at which one of the main attractions is the Marco Polo House

• Mytilene, Greece, the capital and port of the island of Lesbos.

• Otranto, our only Italian port: This had nothing to do with the hold up in Split; the sea was a bit rough when we were preparing to sail in and the port authority refused to let the captain put the tenders down even though he was prepared to guarantee our safety. At this stage I believe our normally well mannered, quietly spoken captain had a bit of a meltdown referring to the port officer as "a stupid idiot" - who could blame him; it has been a trying voyage for him.

Discoverfine French foodCanadaDuty-free shopMachu Picchu

As we sailed past Otranto everyone was ready to laugh - what else could go wrong?

Nothing while sailing through the magnificent Corinth Canal (which only a small ship can do) and nothing went wrong on our amazing and very moving day at Gallipoli.

By the time we sailed into Istanbul on the last morning of our journey even the most hard-hearted had to be entranced by the beauty of the magnificent spectacle before us - with countless spires, domes and minarets outlined against the dawn sky. How lucky were we to be there.

My husband and I flew home that afternoon from Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport. Other passengers were staying longer. This certainly was a holiday we won't forget.

Three weeks later we received a generous cheque from APT who reimbursed all the passengers on that cruise. It was much more than first offered so perhaps those loud voices did make a difference. Would I do another small ship cruise? You bet - as soon as I win the lottery.

ESCAPE ROUTE

APT's fleet of small ships have access to some of the world's smallest and most beautiful ports. Most call into ports nearly every day and you can often step ashore right in the middle of town. Their most popular cruises include the 11-day Kimberley Cruise, 10 days in Iceland and the 15 day Mediterranean Odyssey.

News Corp Australia


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