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Celebrity Files $300 Million Lawsuit Over Mermaid “Pods”

August 7, 2003
Celebrity Cruises has filed a $300 million lawsuit against Rolls Royce and Alstom Power Conversion over the consistently problematic “mermaid pod” propulsion system that has plagued all of its Millennium-class ships – Millennium, Infinity, Summit and Constellation --and resulted in numerous cruise cancellations. The most recent occurrence took place just last month, when Celebrity was forced to cancel an 11-day voyage on Millennium due to the faulty pods. Rolls Royce and Alstom Power Conversion are co-producers of the innovative – if balky – mermaid pod propulsion system.

At that time, a Celebrity spokesman said the company was working with the pod manufacturers to develop better bearing units and that, so far, Infinity was the first vessel to have been installed with the improved system. Celebrity Cruises’ attorney George Fowler declined to comment on progress – or lack thereof – and said only that “all we can say very clearly is that they break down. They’ve broken down repeatedly and after awhile Celebrity has come to the conclusion that there’s something seriously wrong with the pods.”

Indeed, in a statement issued today, Celebrity says the lawsuit was filed “after repeated attempts to resolve issues satisfactorily.” Celebrity is seeking to recover revenue it has lost and costs it has incurred as a result of canceling five voyages and abbreviating one.

The company did stress in its statement that the pod breakdown posed no safety issues.

Filing of the lawsuit was, ultimately, inevitable, according to an industry source, because the repeated difficulties caused “not only loss of revenue for Celebrity but also an issue of reputation for the cruise line, as travel agents and passengers had become leery of booking trips on these ships.”

Other cruise lines that have installed the mermaid propulsion system on their vessels include Radisson (Seven Seas Mariner), First European (European Vision and European Stars), Crystal (Serenity) and MSC (Lirica). Cunard’s much-hyped-though-still-under-construction Queen Mary 2 has also been equipped with the co-producers’ ship pod- propulsion system. All of these vessels are products of France’s Chantiers l’Atlantique shipyard.

Rolls Royce issued a statement in response to the filing of the lawsuit saying, "the company has not yet received formal notice of any proceedings -- if this proves to be the case, Rolls-Royce AB will vigorously contest any allegations of the nature referred to in the reports."

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