LONDON — The 1,200 passengers on the Queen Elizabeth 2, which arrives in New York today, will receive a 40% cash refund on their fares to compensate for a disastrous start to their luxury five-day cruise across the Atlantic, the operators said.
"This is great news," said one elderly American who had no problems. "It will pay for the drinks bill."
The 67,000-ton ship had just undergone a $162-million refitting in the West German port of Bremerhaven by the West German firm Lloyd Werft. No British firms would accept the refitting contract, saying they could not do the job within the 179-day timetable demanded by Cunard.
Most of the passengers on the ship's maiden voyage from Southhampton to New York are Americans. Fares for the five-day voyage ranged as high as $5,670.
Alan Kennedy, chairman of Cunard Lines, which operates the ship, wrote to each passenger offering apologies for problems on the first night of the cruise, which the British press described as a national disgrace.
More than 80 cabins were not ready when the ship sailed.
"I am very conscious of the inconvenience and discomfort you suffered at the non-availability of some of the ship's facilities," he said.
On the first night, after the ship left Britain on Thursday, passengers complained of television and air conditioning not working, leakages that sent water gushing through cabin ceilings, corridors and decks littered with equipment still to be installed, late clocks and a heating system that was out of control.
The refund will be given by May 27 to all passengers because many of the advertised facilities, including the swimming pools, movies and computer learning center, were not available.
Kennedy, who is on the voyage, said many of the problems have now been fixed, although there were still reports of dozens of small leaks in the companionways and corridors.