(8:45 a.m. EDT) -- Some 400 British passengers are being flown home from Stockholm
by charter flight today, following an electrical fault that left the 58,600-ton, 1,756-passenger MSC Opera
off the Swedish coast with greatly reduced power on Saturday.
The ship had left Southampton
on May 7 for a 10-night voyage to Copenhagen
, Stockholm, Helsinki
and St Petersburg
The episode has echoes of Carnival Splendor
's catastrophic power failure
in the Pacific last November. In this case, a faulty electrical panel was at the root of the troubles, according to a statement from the Italian-owned line. This meant that hot food could not be served, and the ship's vacuum-powered toilets stopped working.
Yesterday, the ship was towed by tug to the port of Nynamshamn, near Stockholm, where it arrived at 11 this morning local time. Most services had by then been restored and passengers enjoyed a hot breakfast. Free drinks were served from the bars yesterday, as well.
STX, the French shipyard that built Opera, has flown a team of technicians out to Sweden, but as a precaution, the line has confirmed that it has canceled the next cruise, which was due to leave Southampton on May 17. Opera will now leave Southampton on May 27 for an eight-night cruise to Amsterdam
Those whose holidays have been cut short have been offered full credit for the 10-day cruise, valid until December 2012. As for those who'd been due to depart tomorrow, MSC's statement says they've all been contacted and offered “adequate compensation” – either a discount if they rebook or a full refund if they choose to cancel.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor