Ruby refuses to go quietly: generator fault cancels Caribbean Christmas

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The last cruise ship ever built in a British shipyard is determined not to slip quietly away into retirement.
Saga Ruby – built as Vistafjord at Swan Hunter on the Tyne – has thrown a final wobbly on her final cruise, which was to have been a month-long round-trip voyage from the UK to the Caribbean.
One of its generators has failed, which would have left the air-conditioning plant underpowered and the ship uncomfortably steamy.
Arriving in Santa Cruz on the island of Tenerife, Captain Krzysztof Majdzinski discovered repairs could not be made until a replacement part was manufactured.
After a series of discussions with Saga’s head office in Folkestone, he decided to cancel the entire Caribbean itinerary. The ship, and its 557 passengers, will instead spend Christmas in the Mediterranean.
Saga Shipping’s managing director Robin Shaw flew to Tenerife last night to inform guests of the changes to their holiday plans.
He told me today: “As soon as it became apparent there was I problem, I flew to the ship so I could personally apologise and let people know what we were doing to ensure the farewell cruise would be memorable for all the right reasons.
“Our focus is on delivering a great cruise experience and we wont compromise passenger comfort and I fully support the Captain’s decision that a Med cruise will be better for our passengers.
“Having spoken to a great many passengers about our revised plans I know that although some are disappointed about not proceeding as planned there is an understanding that this has been beyond our control and it was better to find out now than in the heat of the Caribbean.
“There is also a tangible sense of delight that we can continue on a Christmas and New Year final voyage with Saga Ruby. Spending Christmas Eve in Monte Carlo and seeing in the New Year with a spectacular firework display in Funchal will make this a very special journey. As will being joined by Strictly Come Dancing star’s James and Ola.”
All passengers will receive a 40 per cent refund of their fare. Those who choose to leave the ship will get all their money back and will be flown home.
Shaw added: “One of our passengers said to me ‘In difficult situations Saga always pulls out all the stops and does the right thing, I’m looking forward to the adventure.'”
I understand that only about 20 guests have chosen to leave the ship.
Ruby left Southampton on December 7 and is due to return for the final time on January 7. Saga has agreed to sell the ship to buyers who will operate her as a hotel in Asia.
The revised itinerary now brings Ruby and Saga Sapphire together in Funchal, Madeira, for the New Year’s Eve firework display. Full details: Dec 13 Tenerife; Dec 14, 15 At Sea; Dec 16 Almeria, Spain; Dec 17, 18 At Sea; Dec 19 Valletta, Malta; Dec 19 Messina, Sicily; Dec 20 Naples, Italy; Dec 22 Civitavecchia (for Rome); Dec 23 Livorno (for Florence, Pisa); Dec 24 Monte Carlo; Dec 25 At Sea; Dec 26 Barcelona, Spain; Dec 27 Valencia, Spain; Dec 28 At Sea; Dec 29 Gibraltar; Dec 30, 31 At Sea; Jan 1 Funchal, Madeira; Jan 2 At Sea; Jan 3 Lisbon, Portugal; Jan 4, At Sea; Jan 5 La Coruna; Jan 6 At Sea; Jan 7 Southampton

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:28+00:00 13 December 2013|Cruise News, Cruise Ships|5 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.


  1. Marion Lawrence 13 December 2013 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    My elderly parents cruised on Ruby a number of years ago and went because they knew they would be looked after by Saga.
    It is sad to see they have let the ship fall into disrepair just before the end. Since falling under new management Saga is no longer a caring company and my parents now cruise with Fred Olsen who look after them very well.

  2. Linda McMaster 13 December 2013 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    Oh no …… I Know my parents are two out of 20 to want to come home. They were so looking forward to spending time in the Caribbean for Christmas ….. Just waiting to hear when they are due back home. What a shame I know they have always been so well looked after by Saga ….they had problems on their world cruise a few years ago with loss of power on the ship and worries about pirates …… They love an adventure.

  3. Linda 13 December 2013 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    Oh no ….. My parents are two out of twenty coming home. I know Saga will be looking after them They had problems with engine failure a few years ago on a world cruise with Saga, lost power at sea and had torches to ward off pirates! Will have to let dad go by himself next time ….. Women must bring bad luck….(sorry mum)…. Or was there an albatross on board? The were so looking forward to Christmas in the Carribean ……. Does this mean I have to cook Christmas dinner ???

  4. Kevin Griffin 14 December 2013 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Saga Ruby was not the last cruise ship ever built in a British shipyard. Built by Swan Hunters in Newcastle, she entered service in May 1972. But the smaller Odessa, built in Barrow, followed her when she was completed by Swan Hunters in March 1974. The latter however has been long gone.

  5. James 16 December 2013 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    Regarding Marion’s comment – My parents have also sailed with SAGA many many times and have nothing but praise for all the effort that is put in. They have friends currently onboard and the feed back they have received has been amazing, the way all has been dealt with (even Robin Shaw flying out to keep everyone informed) as you will note it was a generator that failed and nothing to do with the ship going to disrepair (has your car never had a technical fault that you were not aware of prior?) Well done SAGA for working hard to fix a bad situation

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