NEW YORK — Disgruntled passengers on the luxury liner QE2 arrived in New York Harbor Thursday evening after what they called a nightmarish trans-Atlantic voyage in which toilets flooded, running water turned brown and debris spilled into the corridors.
John Olsen, chairman of Cunard, owners of QE2, boarded the ship and met with the passengers after they threatened a mutiny when faulty plumbing and repair problems turned their holiday into a foul-smelling fiasco.
The debacle has been a publicity nightmare for Cunard and has left the elegant image of the world's most famous cruise liner in tatters.
"There is no excuse. We are accepting full responsibility. It has to be said that we underestimated the full extent of the difficulty," said Olsen, who offered passengers a full refund on their voyage and 25% off on another sailing.
Virginia Charleston, 38, of Upper Montclair, N.J., who was traveling with her husband and 4-year-old child, said: "There was no plumbing, no electricity the first day and literally no heat. We froze the first night," she added.
Karen Clark, a management consultant from Los Angeles, complained that "although we had water in the cabin, it was brown."
"None of the amenities of the ship were open until today . . . then they whitewashed everything in typical British response to everything," said Clark, who was traveling with her 11-year-old nephew.
Passengers said they used champagne buckets as makeshift toilets, swimming pools were unusable and construction debris turned corridors into dangerous obstacle courses.