July 5, 2016
(12:15 p.m. BST) -- Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has cancelled the forthcoming cruise on Black Watch following a fire onboard last week.
Fred. Olsen was hoping to operate the nine-night Norwegian Fjords cruise from Tilbury on 8 July as scheduled, but due to "technical and operations issues" it has been forced to cancel it. Fred. will inform all passengers today via email and letter.
A fire broke out in the engine room of the 44-year-old ship last Friday (July 1), forcing the line to abandon the cruise in Funchal, Madeira, and fly back all 700 passengers to the U.K. yesterday.
A statement posted on the Fred. website today read: "We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment this will cause. More updates will be posted once further information is available," and advising those booked on the cruise to call the Reservations Department.
According to a statement from the cruise line, the fire damaged three out of seven auxiliary engines, which generate electrical power on the ship, as well as cabling damage, which is affecting lighting and communications.
The cabling damage has prevented the other two main engines from running, and Fred. felt it was better to fly guests back rather than carry out repairs onboard.
Up until yesterday the next cruise was going ahead as planned. Indeed, the line issued the following statement: "We hope that Black Watch will be able to undertake her next cruise -- a nine-night ‘Norwegian Fjords’ cruise from Tilbury on 8 July 2016 -- as scheduled.".
However, this morning the decision was made to cancel it.
The line is offering the following in compensation: a full refund of the fare or the opportunity to move the booking to any 2016 cruise in the same room grade at no additional cost. If the cost of the new cruise is less, the line will refund the difference. In addition, the line is offering a future cruise voucher for 20 percent of the Norwegian Fjords cruise fare, for new bookings; it's valid through 31 December.
--By Adam Coulter, U.K.Editor