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March 15, 2004

Pod problems prompt Celebrity ship shuffle

Royal Caribbean's Celebrity Cruises will swap the itineraries of two sister ships, Infinity and Millennium, and use Millennium for two Panama Canal cruises on March 28 and April 11, previously scheduled on Infinity. The change will allow Infinity to enter dry dock to replace thrust- bearing units in its Mermaid podded propulsion system. Consequently, the March 28 sailing by Millennium to the eastern Caribbean has been canceled.

Once Infinity emerges from dry dock, the ship will adopt the Millennium itineraries for three sailings to the Caribbean on April 4, 11, and 18. The two ships will return to their normal itineraries April 25.

"I want to apologize to all of our guests affected by this unexpected situation," said Jack Williams, president and chief operating officer of Celebrity Cruises. "The cancellation of a cruise always has an undesirable impact on our guests, so we always try to make decisions that will affect the least number of guests. It's clear that swapping the itineraries of Infinity and Millennium will cause the least disruption for the majority of our guests."

Reportedly, premature wear was first detected on Infinity's starboard thrust-bearing unit early this month, Since then, the vessel has been operating at speeds no higher than 16 knots while the manufacturers monitored the system.

Infinity was taken out of service for two cruises in February of last year in order to rectify pod problems.

In August of last year, Celebrity Cruises filed a $300 million lawsuit against Rolls Royce and Alstom Power Conversion, co-producers the Mermaid propulsion system, to recover lost revenue and costs associated with failing pods. The lawsuit was filed in state court in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

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