Royal Olympic Cruises (ROC) and Blohm+Voss continue to disagree on whether the 800-passenger Olympia Explorer is ready for delivery or not. After its initial announcement of a delay, ROC soon to be renamed Royal Olympia Cruises has now asserted that the ship will not begin sailing before Sept. 15 "due to the delay in delivery... so that certain technical problems may be addressed and solved before delivery of the vessel takes place." Passengers already booked aboard the ship will be offered a cruise aboard another ROC vessel.

Said ROC's new CEO, John Pantazis, "We are very disappointed at having to cancel this summer's program out of Venice, as we have good bookings for the ship... and we had expected to do well this year."

Asked about the shipyard flap, a spokesperson for ROC explained, "The shipbuilding contract stipulates that if there is a disagreement, the two classification societies involved with the project Lloyd's Register and Germanische Lloyd choose an outside expert to look at the situation and move the process along. That expert has been chosen he's a well-known London-based technical consultant and he will look at all the issues and announce his decision." The third party's findings will be non­ binding, and if his participation does not bring about an amicable solution, noted the ROC spokesperson, the contract stipulates that the two parties then move on to arbitration, "which is a long drawn-out process." The ROC spokesperson confirmed that the announced Sept. 15 delayed delivery date is contingent upon the dispute being resolved before arbitration is necessary.

Blohm+Voss is not commenting further, beyond repeating its assertion that the ship is ready for delivery. The ROC spokesperson sharply discounted the theory that the cruise line had decided to delay the ship's delivery because of poor summer bookings, or any financial inability to make final payment.