Passengers fly home as cruise ship quits Alaska for dry dock repairs

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Persistent propulsion problems have brought a premature end to Celebrity Millennium’s Alaska season. The 13-year-old ship has disembarked more than 2,000-passengers and is heading to dry dock in Grand Bahama for repairs.
Three recent cruises were disrupted by the problems; now the four remaining Alaska cruises of the summer have been cancelled as well as a re-positioning voyage from California to Florida.
Problems first struck earlier this month when Millennium arrived late into Seward at the end of a seven-day cruise from Vancouver and then remained in port for four days for repairs to be carried out.
Its subsequent return voyage to Vancouver went ahead without stopping at any of the scheduled ports of call in between – though all but 100 passengers chose to remain on board rather than take up the offer of flights home.
On its most recent cruise, problems getting engine power to the propellers resurfaced shortly after leaving Ketchikan and the ship turned round and returned to port.
Following a further assessment by engineers, the decision was taken to take the vessel to dry dock and charter flights were arranged to fly passengers home or to Anchorage for their pre-booked post-cruise land tours. No date has yet been announced for its return to service.
It has not been disclosed if the two power failures were separate incidents or whether they were related. The ship was the first in the world to have a combined gas and steam turbo-electric power plant.
Like its sister ships, Constellation, Infinity and Summit, propulsion and steering is provided by two Mermaid pods – electric motors driving 19-foot diameter propellers and capable of swiveling through 360 degrees. They have caused trouble before; Millennium was out of action for a month in 2009 after a failure while in New Zealand.
In 2010, Celebrity reached a £42 million settlement with manufacturers Rolls-Royce after a lawsuit related to repeated failures.
There were 23 British passengers on this week’s abandoned voyage and a total of 128 customers from the UK will have their holiday plans disrupted by the forthcoming cancellations.
Cynthia Martinez, director of corporate relations for parent company Royal Caribbean, said: “A mechanical issue has made it necessary to perform unscheduled repairs on Celebrity Millennium. As a result, we have informed guests that we have had to cancel a number of sailings.”
“We appreciate how very disappointing this unexpected turn of events has been for our guests, and we deeply regret the inconvenience,” she added.
Celebrity Cruises spent about $40 million on Millennium in a major upgrade last year, designed to bring the vessel up to the standard of the line’s newer Eclipse-class ships.
Enhancements included new Blu and Qsine restaurants and the creation of AquaSpa staterooms. The ship’s winter programme includes Australia and a season of cruises in south-east Asia before it heads to Japan and China in April before a return to Alaska in summer 2014.

By | 2013-08-24T12:16:11+00:00 24 August 2013|Cruise News, Cruise Ships|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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