After evaluating several alternatives, Celebrity Cruises has decided to drydock its innovative gas turbine propelled ship, Millennium, reportedly at Newport News Shipbuilding this
November to perform work on the vessel's stern hull design.
Millennium initially made headlines within the cruise industry as the first ship to employ gas turbine propulsion
- rather than the conventional diesel engines. This new breed of propulsion was to provide passengers with a quieter, more comfortable voyage with minimal vibration.
As reported earlier, a vibration had been detected in certain areas of the ship under certain sea conditions. This vibration has been linked to the design of the stern hull. Shipyard workers will use the drydock period to attach a buffer to the aft section of the hull, which will eliminate the vibration. This work is expected to take three weeks.
Celebrity officials said that the unscheduled dry dock will necessitate the cancellation of one two-night and three seven-night Caribbean voyages.
The company is continuing to review the matter with the ship's builder, Chantiers de L'Atlantique, and expects the bulk of any costs associated with the dry dock to be covered by the builder.
Celebrity Cruises' president Richard Sasso likened the vibration to squeaky brakes on a new car. "It's not a safety issue and it's not a comfort issue, but, with a brand new ship, you want it fixed as soon as possible," Sasso explained.
Currently, Millennium is sailing 10- to 14-night cruises in Europe. It is scheduled to arrive in New York on November 15 for several days of inaugural activities and begin cruising from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on December 17, following the dry dock.
Similar modifications will be made on Millennium's sistership, Infinity, while it is still under construction at the shipyard. Known as the next member of the Millennium Class of ships, Infinity is scheduled for a January 2001 delivery.