Update: Majestic America Line has announced that the June 30 departure has also been canceled; Empress of the North will re-enter service on July 7. The boat will relocate from the Ketchikan shipyard where it is currently being worked on to Cascade General shipyard in Portland, Oregon, to complete repairs. Passengers on the affected sailing may move to another 2007 Alaska voyage (with reimbursement for incidentals and a 25 percent future cruise credit), or cancel for a full refund.
Guests scheduled will be contacted by Majestic America and offered the opportunity to move to another Empress of the North Alaska sailing in 2007, as well as reimbursement for all related incidental charges and a 25 percent credit toward a future cruise. Guests who choose to instead cancel their reservations will receive a full refund.
Majestic America had already canceled Empress' May 19, May 26 and June 2 cruises due to the incident, but after inspecting the boat in Ketchikan, the line decided it was necessary to further revise Empress' schedule. The repair timeline is unknown at this point. According to the Seattle Times, the Ketchikan shipyard the sternwheeler has called home for the past week has another obligation and cannot complete the job. The shipyard will handle a portion of the permanent repairs and stabilize the vessel for southbound passage by the middle of next week.
A spokeswoman for the line was not able to tell us yet where in the "south" the boat will finish out its repairs; possibilities include British Columbia, Oregon and Washington.
Empress of the North was involved in two other recent grounding incidents along the Columbia River, the Seattle Times reports. In 2003, Empress ran aground in Oregon after developing steering problems; this boat also hit a sandbar in 2006 while trying to avoid a barge.