Page 23: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (July 2001)

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Mechanical Problems, Late Deliveries Continue to Plague Industry

A stagnant economy, threat of overcapacity and can- celed cruises due to repairs and late deliveries have conspired to slow the hyper-growth cruise industry has enjoyed for the past decade.

Even last year's new Millennium, which hurst onto the cruise scene with its new gas turbine propulsion, had its share of troubles. Despite unparalleled reassurance by

Celebrity that Millennium's propulsion problem was remedied. Infinity, its sistership, which was delivered this past Spring, recently experienced new problems with faulty bearings in its propulsion system —forcing the line to cancel two weeks of sailings.

In addition. Celebrity's Galaxy dealt with a damaged propeller, causing lost money and cruises on that ves- sel. These problems not to mention the late delivery of

Royal Olympic's Olympic Explorer and the complica- tions with the two new U.S. Lines Ships currently being built at Litton Ingalls offers a plaguing question — Has the Cruise Industry Gone Bust?

By Kegina P. Ciardiello, senior editor

With order books filling up and yards bursting at the seams with cruise ship newbuilds, it would seem as though the industry is one that is flying high — at least by the numbers — 58 ships on order consisting of 98,000 berths worth $18.5 billion, (Source: CLIA).

But, will the lines be able to fill these ships to their full capacity, or will they be forced to perform weekly sail- ings with a large quantities of empty staterooms? That is if they even manage to get their vessels up and run- ning according to schedule — and keep them running smoothly and safely.

Cruise companies, which have faced a falling econo- my, resulting in heavy discounts, have had to recently contend with a number of revenue-slapping technical issues. Case in point is the recent delay of Royal

Olympic's 24,500-ton Olympic Explorer, which was to have been delivered to the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based line from Germany's Blohm + Voss Shipyard on April 27. The $175 million vessel has since been pushed back for delivery sometime this summer — leaving

Royal Olympic in a financial and itinerary bind; the line had to cancel all cruises until September 15, 2001.

The delay, according to Royal Olympic is reportedly due to "a variety of technical problems that need to be addressed before the vessel's delivery." While Royal

Olympic waits in limbo while a technical team assess- es the situation, Celebrity Cruise Lines has also called upon Blohm + Voss' Repair Division to help it fix its 866-ft. (263.9-m) Galaxy. The vessel, which entered service in December 1996, sustained damage to its port propeller as it moved through a lock in Holland, according to the company's director of corporate com- munications, Lynn Martenstein. A diver managed to recover one eight ft. blade, which was bent. Three other blades — each weighing 3.5 tons sustained scratches.

At press time, the vessel was at Blohm + Voss' drydock.

Olympic Voyager's (pictured) sistership, Olympic Explorer, is currently laid up at builder Blohm + Voss in Germany where a technical team is assessing the reasons for its late delivery. waiting to undergo repairs. While the drydocking forced Celebrity to cancel a 14-night Northern Euro- pean cruise, Martenstein added that the company expects Galaxy to have returned to the seas by June 16.

Celebrity also had to contain with bearing problems on its newest delivery — Infinity — the second mem- ber of the Millennium class of ships. The vessel had to undergo repairs associated with a ball bearing in its starboard propulsion system and had its own slew of canceled itineraries.

Infinity's drydocking at Victoria Shipyard threw out its June 8 and June 15 sailings — seven night Alaskan cruises leaving from Vancouver.

Celebrity's decision to dry dock Infinity at Victoria

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