(1:30 p.m. EDT) -- Two failures, about a week apart, in a specific part of one of Celebrity Millennium's two Rolls Royce Mermaid propulsion pod systems necessitated the cancellation of five Alaska cruises, Celebrity President and CEO Michael Bayley revealed in a press conference today. The ship is en route to Grand Bahama Shipyard. It is expected to arrive September 6.

Also en route is the 250-ton replacement pod, which is being shipped from Rotterdam and should arrive September 3.

The problem, Bayley explained, is with the "stator" piece of the pod. A stator is the stationary part of a motor that provides electricity to the rotor (or moving part). Stator failure is not unheard of, but more than one failure is unusual.

A stator engine failure occurred August 10 when Millennium was in Seward, Alaska. At the time, Celebrity brought experts onboard to repair the stator, and the Coast Guard certified the pod. About a week later, though, the pod failed again, this time in Ketchikan, Alaska. Same problem, different location of the stator. That's when the company decided the ship needed a brand new pod.

"This was the second time we had an incident with this pod in the course of a few weeks," Bayley said, "and we didn't want to put the ship back into operation and then one or two months later have another incident. That was simply not acceptable for our customers."

Swapping the broken pod for the new one will take four days once the ship and pod are in the Freeport shipyard. Bayley said he is "quite confident" that Millennium will depart dry dock on schedule and return to San Diego on September 22 to begin its scheduled Canal Transit sailing to Fort Lauderdale.

The broken pod will undergo diagnoses to determine what caused the failures before it is sent to France for rebuilding.

Sprucing Up
"It's a bizarre opportunity because we've got several weeks where we have this cruise ship that is literally fully operational except for one part … so we're taking advantage of the opportunity so we can further enhance our guest experience," Bayley said.

The 843 crew members onboard will do a deep cleaning of all staterooms, draperies, furniture, upholstery and carpets. Crew also will undergo additional specialized training in areas such as Concierge, Aqua and Suite Class service. Additionally, the future cruise sales desk will be moved to a more prominent location on Deck 5. Bayley also hinted at a few "tricks" up his sleeve in regards to Millennium's return to service. "Our intention on Millennium on September 22 is to truly delight our customers with an outstanding experience."

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor