Originally scheduled for a $30 million refurbishment at the Detyens shipyard in South Carolina in January 2010, Seven Seas Navigator is instead going into dry dock in November 2009 at the Lloyd-Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany, says Andrew Poulton, Regent's director of corporate communications. Because the ship will now be laid up from November 15 to December 15, Regent has to cancel all of Navigator's sailings departing between November 8 and December 18 to accommodate the new, earlier dry dock plans.
The ship will reposition to and from Germany without guests onboard -- including a transatlantic voyage to Ft. Lauderdale once the upgrades are complete. The December 28, 2009, cruise will take place as planned, and two new 10-night, roundtrip Ft. Lauderdale cruises have been added on January 13 and 23, 2010, when the original dry dock was scheduled to take place.
Poulton says, "This decision, which involves a multi-million dollar negative financial impact for the cruise line because of refunded cruises and protected agency commissions, was not made lightly, and we are obviously extremely sorry for the disappointment it must have caused to our guests." Travelers booked on effected sailings were offered alternative cruises for the same price or a full refund of their fare plus a future cruise credit per person of $500.
Although emergency dry docks for mechanical problems are not uncommon, it is rare that pre-arranged refurbishment plans fall through causing a last-minute reorganization of a cruise ship's schedule.
So what happened to the original dry-dock plans? We're not sure. According to Poulton, the Detyens shipyard unexpectedly announced it could not complete the project in the time allotted. A representative from the shipyard could not be reached for comment as to what caused the change on their end. As a result of Detyens backing out of the deal, Regent was forced to scramble for an open spot at another shipyard. Based on availability and expertise with this kind of project, an earlier dry dock in Germany was Regent's best option.
Once in dry dock, Seven Seas Navigator will get a complete makeover, including the rebuilding of public rooms, suites and deck areas and the addition of a new steakhouse, Prime 7.
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor