Shipyard Strikes Mean Delayed Launch for Refurbished Saga Sapphire

March 21, 2012
saga-sapphire-cruise-ship (2:05 p.m. EDT) -- Multi-million-pound refurbishments are complicated affairs, and they become even more complex when your workforce goes on strike. To that end, Saga Cruises announced today that the arrival of its newest ship, Saga Sapphire, will be delayed, as will the ship's departure on its inaugural cruise to Venice.

Sapphire, which is en route to Southampton now, faced interruptions during a nearly four-month refurbishment in the Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo, Italy, when workers participated in a national strike action.

The ship is expected to arrive in Southampton on Monday -- when it was originally scheduled to depart for Venice -- and will leave on a shortened cruise a week later (Monday, 2 April). During the weeklong stay in the U.K., the ship “will need to be loaded with provisions, and items such as furniture need to be loaded and installed,” company spokesman Carl Catterall told Cruise Critic.

A 23-night inaugural cruise, which was scheduled to visit Mediterranean ports in Spain, Italy, Malta, Croatia, Greece, Gibraltar and Portugal, has now been shortened to 16 nights. The line has not made clear what stops the revised itinerary includes, saying only, “We have tried to keep as much of the original cruise as possible and minimise the disruption.”

Catterall said all passengers on the disrupted cruise have been contacted, and offered either a pro-rated refund for the missed portion of the cruise, alternative accommodation on another cruise, or the option to cancel and receive a full refund.

The makeover included the addition of 46 balconies to cabins on Deck 8, new restaurants and a "View From the Top" outdoor cinema. Also, cabins have been updated, several public areas have been redesigned, and the line is introducing iPads and onboard Wi-Fi connectivity.

--Jamey Bergman, Web Content Producer, U.K.