Watch CBSN Live

Queen Mary Passengers Threaten Sit-In

Some passengers on the Queen Mary 2 are threatening a sit-in when the cruise ship reaches port in Brazil to protest a last-minute change in itinerary, the vessel's operator said Sunday.

The world's largest and most expensive ocean liner left New York on Jan. 15 and was scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on Feb. 22. Carrying more than 2,500 passengers, it hit the side of a Florida shipping channel Jan. 18, damaging a motor and reducing its speed.

"We spent longer than we had planned in Fort Lauderdale, which meant that the itinerary has had to be changed, and we do regret that sincerely and clearly we do recognize there's been a lot of disruption," said Cunard Line president Carol Marlow.

The cruise cut stops in Barbados, St. Kitts and Salvador, Brazil, to make up for lost time.

"We gave our guests a compensation package which we felt was fair, and clearly it's not our intention for any to go away dissatisfied," said Marlow.

Cunard offered 1,000 passengers who had been scheduled to disembark in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a 50 percent refund to make up for the missing stops, Flounders said.

Some were unhappy with the offer and met with the captain to discuss it, Eric Flounders, a Cunard Line spokesman, said. He said only a small number of passengers were protesting but did not know how many.

"Cunard takes the view that they are on board, they're enjoying all the facilities of the QM2, all the food, the entertainment and so on, so while we very much regret they're missing the ports, we feel the 50 percent compensates for that," he said.

One passenger, Alan Berg, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that many people on the ship were extremely unhappy and demanding full refunds.

"We have been lied to and misled," Berg, 63, of Manchester, England, said. "We should have been allowed the option of getting off at Fort Lauderdale and not taking the cruise at all. It is not in fact a cruise now but a rather a voyage by sea to Rio. Many guests are on once-in-a-lifetime holidays and I have seen several in tears."

Marlow said it was not known until after the cruise ship left port in Florida how much speed it would lose and how many ports of call it would have to skip to reach Rio de Janeiro on time on Jan. 26. The $800 million cruise ship is now relying on three of its four propulsion motors, Marlow said.

Cunard is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise operator.