Cruise Ship Undergoes Unexpected Dry Dock With Guests On Board

Guests aboard Queen Victoria have a rare opportunity to witness dry dock operations while an unexpected repair is made to the ship.

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When a cruise ship goes into dry dock, the ship is generally empty of guests and out of service for the duration of the maintenance or repairs. Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria, however, is now undergoing a brief dry dock in mid-cruise, with guests still aboard the vessel in a very unique port of call experience, one sure to delight any passengers interested in nautical engineering.

Queen Victoria Unexpected Dry Dock

The Vista-class Queen Victoria is currently sailing a 15-night round trip, Canary Islands “Celebration” New Year’s cruise. Cadiz was a planned port of call for the vessel – it is a popular destination in southern Spain – but has not quite gone as expected.

Guests were informed at embarkation that the ship would be entering dry dock on January 2, 2023, and due to the diversion, the scheduled port of call to Lisbon, Portugal, on January 4 would be cancelled.

“Queen Victoria will be going into a dry dock in Cadiz during your voyage,” a letter from the ship’s master, Captain Tomas Connery, stated.

Rather than docking in the heart of the historic and colorful Andalusian city, Queen Victoria is in dry dock at the Navantia shipyard in Cadiz. The location is not so different than the passenger cruise terminals, however, as the dry dock facility is only .8 miles (1.3 kilometers) from the typical port of call dock.

The unexpected diversion to dry dock is due to issues with one of the ship’s Azipod engines, which has been causing excessive vibrations at the vessel’s aft in recent months. A propeller blade on the engine needs replacing, which requires the ship to be in dry dock for appropriate repairs.

It should be noted that none of the ship’s safety features or hotel and guest operations are impacted.

“Whilst in dry dock, our service and activities on board will largely continue as normal,” Connery said.

While in dry dock, guests were provided with complimentary shuttles to the downtown area to enjoy the city’s rich history, stunning architecture, and diverse markets. Because of the activity of the shipyard, guests were not permitted to walk downtown, but the shuttles were expected to operate on a regular schedule for guests’ convenience.

On the morning of Wednesday, January 4, 2023, the dry dock would be flooded to refloat the ship, which is expected to set sail once more within a few hours. The ship’s planned arrival back to Southampton on January 7 has not be impacted.

Port Changes

Queen Victoria had already been scheduled to spend Tuesday, January 3 in Cadiz, but due to the need for this emergency dry dock, the scheduled port of call to Lisbon, Portugal, on January 4 was cancelled, and pre-booked shore excursions were automatically cancelled and refunded. “We apologise for this change and thank you for your understanding,” the letter read.

While the two ports are only about 300 miles (483 kilometers) from one another, cancelling the port call to Lisbon ensures the new engine can be properly tested, and there is a margin of extra time in case repairs take longer than expected.

Queen Victoria Cruise Ship
Photo Copyright: TheHighestQualityImages / Shutterstock

The ship was able to visit the other ports of call on the Canary Islands itinerary, including Arrecife, Puerto del Rosario, Santa Cruz de la Palma, and Tenerife, as well as Funchal in Portugal.

The next cruise, as the ship repositions briefly to Hamburg, Germany, has not been affected.

Queen Victoria first entered service for Cunard in 2007. The 90,049-gross-ton ship can welcome as many as 2,081 guests (double occupancy) on each voyage, and has 900 international crew members aboard to provide Cunard’s signature elite service.

The ship last had a major, $54 million refurbishment in 2017, but has since undergone smaller, regular refreshments, most recently in 2022 prior to restarting post-pandemic passenger service.

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