In mid-April, Royal Caribbean Cruises' (ROC) former Acting President George Stathopoulos asserted that the new Olympic Explorer would begin sailing on time and that the vibration problem initially affecting the Olympic Voyager had been resolved aboard the second ship. Just one month later, ROC has reversed its position altogether, canceling two months' worth of cruises and claiming the cruise line "must delay taking delivery of the Olympic Explorer." According to the company, "It has been determined that improvements to the vessel need to be carried out before the vessel leaves the yard to ensure the maximum efficiency of the vessel." In a published interview, Stathopoulos said vibration levels were among the issues of concern.
Sources familiar with one side of the story maintain that ROC delivered a detailed list of required upgrades following the initial sea trials and that a final sea trial in the days leading up to delivery indicated to ROC that those improvements had not been made, and it subsequently refused to take delivery.
This version of events is flatly contradicted by the ship's builder, Blohm+Voss. According to a statement released by the yard, it completed the ship on April 27 "on schedule, and has tendered her for delivery. The vessel is ready for service and presently berthed at the yard." It said that sea trials concluded on March 15 showed "all measurements have confirmed the same high comfort and speed of her sister vessel, the Olympic Voyager," and that "the ship received a very positive response from the 800 invited guests on a scheduled trip on April 24." Further contradicting the opposing account, the yard said that it "had not yet received a request for particular improvements, and has approached ROC for clarification."
In a May 9 interview with Cruise Industry News, Juergen Engelskirchen, senior manager/civil newbuilding program at Blohm+Voss, asserted, "The vessel was delivered on time and fully within the contract."
ents by the ship owner have been made to this point, with final pa
Engelskirchen said that all payments by the ship owner have been made to this point, with final payment due upon delivery of the ship. Regarding the rumor that ROC is delaying delivery because it cannot complete payment, if one assumes the final payment was in the vicinity of five percent of the total contract cost, ROC would owe Blohm+Voss almost $9 million upon delivery. ROC has recently received a $20 million loan, primarily from Louis Cruise Lines, for the stated purpose of paying for the Olympic Explorer and increasing working capital.
A final possible motive behind the ROC delay: it is believed that bookings on the ship were soft for May and June. The announced delay would have the ship entering service right at the start of the summer high season in July.