Engine Trouble Forces Saga Ship to Shorten Cruise

November 12, 2012
(7:30 a.m. EST) – The soon-to-be-retired Saga Ruby limped into the port of Porto in Portugal on Friday (Nov. 9) 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 on Saturday for its next scheduled stop: a three week-long dry-dock in Bremerhaven, Germany.

Saga flew a team to Portugal, which included Chief Executive Robin Shaw, to "personally oversee the return of all of those on board back to the UK," according to the line's Social Media Manager, Aimee Spicer, who was providing updates on the situation via Saga Ruby's Captain's Blog.

Ruby's passengers were given the option of a flight or a coach-trip back to the U.K., a “full refund of their money and a sincere apology,” according to Spicer. Saga has yet to specify exactly what went wrong with the ship, though Spicer said Ruby's next sailing, an 8-night Baltic cruise from Southampton, will proceed as planned.

The problems with Ruby come just days after an accident investigation criticised the company's safety standards after two crew members fell into the sea during a lifeboat drill onboard Saga Sapphire.

Ruby's scheduled dry-dock in Bremerhaven is a £4 million overhaul aimed at keeping the ship operational until its retirement in January 2014. A spokesman for the line told Cruise Critic: "the planned £4 million refurbishment is scheduled for three weeks and will involve a complete plant and machinery overhaul as well as repainting the vessel and renewing £1m worth of soft furnishings."

Saga Ruby is the last cruise ship to have been built in Britain -- originally named the Vistafjord at its launch in 1973. The ship's farewell voyage, a 31-night Christmas cruise to the Caribbean, is scheduled to leave Southampton on December 7, 2013

--by Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor