(1:49 p.m. EDT) -- Regent Seven Seas' Seven Seas Voyager has suffered a pod propulsion malfunction in Athens, and the line has been forced to cancel the ship's current Mediterranean cruise -- before it even began.
The news was first reported by readers on the Cruise Critic Message Boards. "Captain just announced on board that the ship is severely disabled and our cruise is cancelled," posted Shipless in Seattle at 2:17 EDT this morning. "We MUST disembark by OCT 6 from Athens."
Company spokesman Tim Rubacky confirmed the cancellation of the cruise, a 14-night Mediterranean voyage that was set to depart from Athens on October 3. "The ship got into Athens, the [embarkation] port, all right," he tells us. "But then the pod wouldn't start." Seven Seas Voyager will remain in Athens for the next few days before leaving on October 6 for Genoa, where the ship will enter dry dock to allow a full assessment of the pod so repairs can get underway.
The goal is to have everyone off the ship and repatriated by October 6. RSSC is offering a full refund for the canceled cruise and will pick up the tab on all flights home. Rubacky added that additional forms of compensation will be finalized later today, and some passengers are considering the opportunity to continue their vacations on another RSSC vessel.
Until October 6, passengers are free to use Seven Seas Voyager as a floating hotel. According to the line, all services remain functional, and complimentary tours in and around Athens are being offered. In addition, hotel accommodations in Athens will be arranged for any passengers not en route home by October 6.
Seven Seas Voyager's next cruise is scheduled to depart on October 17 from Venice. Rubacky tells us it's still too early to comment on the faulty pod's impact on that cruise.
Seven Seas Voyager is no stranger to pod problems. Regent had to cancel two Seven Seas Voyager cruises in 2009, following damage to one of the ship's propulsion pods after a piece of fishing line became entangled in the ship's propeller.