(4:07 p.m. EDT) -- One month after Royal Caribbean canceled six Empress of the Seas cruises -- the first cruises scheduled for the ship since it was announced it was returning to the fleet -- the line has canceled seven more. Affected sailings are April 25 and 30, and May 5, 9, 14, 19 and 23.
The ship's refurbishment began in late February but has turned out to be much more complicated than originally planned for, according to the line. "As work has progressed, we have learned that more significant infrastructure and physical improvements across the ship's multiple galleys and provisioning areas were needed to meet our high standards," the line said in a letter sent to travel agents and affected cruisers. "We decided that instead of simply repairing the five galleys, we would completely rebuild them, starting from scratch with entirely new infrastructure and all new equipment, at a cost of $10 million."
Many of the passengers on the newly canceled sailings had been previously booked on the originally canceled sailings. They will receive a full refund and a future cruise credit of 100 percent.
Other passengers scheduled to sail on the April 25 or April 30 sailings who choose not to rebook will receive a full refund and a future cruise credit of 50 percent of the cruise fare paid. All other passengers scheduled to sail on the canceled May sailings will be given an onboard credit if they rebook to another Royal Caribbean sailing. All bookings not rebooked by April 30 will be refunded.
Passengers with air booked through Royal Caribbean than transfer to another sailing will be rebooked on a new flight with no extra cost. Royal Caribbean will cover the change fees for any passengers who purchased their own airfare.
--By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor