Saga only discovered the faulty crank shaft during a routine inspection yesterday (Jan. 7) -- just hours before the 25,000-ton, 655-passenger ship was due to set sail from Southampton.
Some 300 passengers were on their way to Southampton, many of whom spent the night on the ship before returning home today to await news. About 20 have chosen to stay in a hotel in the local area, a spokesman confirmed.
Saga is offering a full refund to any passengers who choose not to sail and is paying for all hotel costs and expenses incurred as a result of the delay. As yet, no passenger has chosen to cancel, according to a spokesman for the line.
“We estimate that the repairs will take between seven to 10 days,” Paul Green, of Saga, told Cruise Critic. “We will tow her to another dock in Southampton and will be working on sorting out this problem on three shifts, 24-hours a day.”
Green said it was too early to say how it would impact the itinerary, but that planners were working on possible scenarios, depending on the length of the delay. He added: “This is frustrating because she had a £4 million refit in Bremerhaven just recently. But it is better for us to deal with this problem now rather than when she is at sea -- for example, coming into Port Stanley.” (The capital of the Falkland Islands, is a notoriously rough port at which to dock).
It is the second time in three months that Saga Ruby has had engine problems: in November the ship arrived at the port of Porto in Portugal with engine trouble serious enough to force the line to cancel the remainder of the cruise back to Southampton.
Emergency repairs were made on site in Porto, and the ship remained in port overnight before setting off for a three week-long dry-dock in Bremerhaven, Germany, at the cost of £4 million. The work included refurbishments as well as a complete plant and machinery overhaul.
Saga Ruby was built in 1973 and is much-loved as it is the last ship to have been built in the U.K. It has sailed under two previous incarnations: Vistafjord and Caronia, when it became part of Cunard's fleet. Saga bought the vessel in 2004 and has spent £17 million refurbishing it.
The ship's farewell voyage, a 31-night Christmas cruise to the Caribbean, is scheduled to leave Southampton on December 7, 2013, before the ship retires in 2014.
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor