(8:42 p.m. EST) -- Over 1,500 cruise passengers are heading home before even setting sail. Princess Cruises has canceled Regal Princess' 10-night Panama Canal sailing, which was supposed to depart from Acapulco yesterday (February 19); the 70,000-ton, 1,590-passenger ship was delayed in the Mexican port overnight after crewmembers discovered damage to one of its ballast tanks.
Though 1,552 guests embarked yesterday, the line has determined after assessing the damage that repairs will take longer than anticipated, according to an official statement, necessitating cancellation of the voyage.
Princess is making arrangements to send folks home, though they will be able to stay onboard in the meantime (all facilities are operational); all booked passengers will receive a full refund including airfare. The line is also offering additional compensation in the form of a future cruise credit equal to 35 percent of the cruise fare paid.
According to the statement, the damage was incurred on February 18 when the ship touched bottom as it was departing Huatulco; "at no time during the subsequent sailing to Acapulco was the safety of our passengers and crew compromised."
Following some preliminary repairs, Regal Princess will head to a dry dock for additional work. The following cruise may also be impacted, but the extent is not yet known. Princess will provide this information as soon as possible. That sailing, a 12-night South America cruise, is scheduled to depart March 1.