May 2, 2002More pod problems for CelebrityThe next ship scheduled for delivery to Royal Caribbean's Celebrity Cruises, Constellation, is returning to the builder, Chantiers de l'Atlantique, of St. Nazaire, France, following sea trials, to correct a leak in its starboard propulsion pod. This delay in the ship's delivery will cause the cancellation of one chartered cruise, sailing May 5, 2002. The shipbuilder will make immediate repairs to correct the leak, which is allowing seawater to enter the pod. "We apologize to our guests for this unexpected situation," said Jack Williams, president and chief operating officer of Celebrity Cruises. "We need to ensure that all aspects of a new ship are operating properly before we take delivery. We look forward to a speedy correction of this situation and smooth sailing moving forward." Celebrity says the negative financial impact of the missed sailing will be largely offset by delayed delivery compensation from the shipyard. As a result, the delayed delivery is not expected to have a material impact on the earnings of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.This is the third time this year that Celebrity has had to cancel cruises because of problems with the Mermaid podded drives in Chantiers de l'Atlantique built shipsIt sent Summit and Infinity, into unscheduled drydockings March 29 and April 13, respectively, to repair propulsion pods. Both ships were operating safely prior to the dockings, but at a lower cruising speed.Summit canceled a March 29 sailing from Fort Lauderdale, and an 11-night cruise April 8 was shortened to a seven-night sailing April 12. Guests on the shorter voyage will receive a 50-percent refund.Infinity missed its April 13 and 20 sailings from San Juan. In addition, Infinity will modify two itineraries. Its April 6 sailing, originally a roundtrip from San Juan, now will originate in San Juan and terminate in Fort Lauderdale. Its April 27 Transcanal sailing, originally from San Juan to San Diego, was scheduled to operate from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego.Both ships were drydocked at the Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas.At the time the Summit and Infinity cancelations were announced, Celebrity said that "the problem with the pods involves ball-bearing units that are wearing out prematurely. Consequently, ships must reduce their cruising speed, potentially falling behind schedule on port calls. By making repairs as soon as possible, Celebrity will avoid further changes in itineraries."