Update 5:50 p.m. -- Just in: The July 12 sailing has also been canceled. Guests booked on that sailing will receive a 100 percent refund of everything paid to Celebrity plus a future cruise credit worth the value paid for the canceled cruise. That credit will be good through December 2008 (details and restrictions will be provided to these guests and their travel agents in a letter).
Stay tuned for more information as we receive it.
(4:45 p.m.) -- Celebrity Cruises has canceled the remainder of its current Millennium cruise; the ship has been docked in Civitavecchia since July 4, undergoing repairs to propeller blades that struck rocks earlier in the voyage while anchored off Villefranche.
Celebrity provided guests with a questionnaire that asked whether guests would prefer to leave the ship and return home from Rome in the next few days, or to stay on the ship and be transported to Venice, to then meet their previously scheduled flights home or post-cruise tour/accommodations.
For those guests who will leave from Rome, Celebrity is providing air transportation home. For those guests who will stay and go to Venice, Celebrity is providing transportation to Venice so that guests can meet their previously scheduled flights. The ship will remain in Rome until Wednesday night so that it can be used as a hotel (the cruise was supposed to end on Thursday, July 12).
Spokesman Michael Sheehan tells us that Celebrity initially expected the damaged propeller blades to be fixed in about 24 hours; however, despite around-the-clock efforts to remove one last damaged blade on the port-side propeller, its base is still jammed in the housing that it sits in and will not come loose.
"We have been as forthcoming as possible and provided exactly the information we had when we had it," Sheehan says. "Our experts said they have never seen a situation like this where removing propeller blades has been this difficult."
Current passengers were informed of the cancellation and homeward assistance today via onboard announcements, being issued about every two hours. As we reported earlier, all affected passengers will receive a full refund of the cruise fare paid.