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Cruise Ship Vacation Becomes Mutinous Mess, Passengers Say

February 27, 1988

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Passengers on a cruise to Central America abandoned ship in Panama after the crew mutinied, the air conditioning failed and a travel agency’s promise of a dream vacation turned into a floating nightmare.

The last 90 passengers aboard the cruise ship Galaxy disembarked in Panama City, Panama, on Friday without completing the last leg of the trip between Acapulco and Cancun, Mexico, said Ron Dusek, spokesman for the state attorney general’s office.

Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox filed suit Wednesday against Golden Cruisetours Inc. of San Antonio, which booked the cruise, two of its subsidiaries and the companies’ owners. Mattox alleged that customers were bilked of hundreds of thousands of dollars when their trips were canceled and their money was not refunded.

The cruise was advertised in 52 newspapers across the country, officials said. A brochure promised passengers a ″friendly, attentive crew″ and the chance to meet new friends.

The cruise that began Feb. 11 in Acapulco fell short of the promises, passengers said.

Eighty-seven of the 250 passengers refused to go aboard because food was cold and the air conditioning was broken, officials said.

The next day, the crew mutinied, according to the State Department. More passengers left the ship Feb. 18 before the Galaxy departed Punta Renas, Costa Rica.

About 50 mutineers were removed from the ship in Costa Rica, leading to a dock rally sponsored by a local union which refused to supply replacement labor.

Passenger Sarita Anderson described a fight in the ship’s lounge during a stop in Guatelmala.

″As we started into the lounge, there was a fight going on,″ Mrs. Anderson said. ″It was something to do with work schedules.″

The English-speaking Honduran crew supervisor was arguing with the ship’s staff chief, yelling that the Mexican crew members, kitchen help and cabin boys, who had been hired only days earlier in Acapulco, were being worked too hard, Mrs. Anderson said.

The two men then began a bloody fight, she said.

Telephone calls Friday to Golden Cruisetours’ office in San Antonio went unanswered.

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