World Cruise Ship Still Dry Docked With No New Launch Date

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Operational delays continue to hamper the debut of Villa Vie Residences’s first vessel, Villa Vie Odyssey, which remains in dry dock at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The cruise line’s latest update provides no new launch date for the ship, whose inaugural voyage has been postponed several times.

Villa Vie Odyssey, which was scheduled to depart from Southampton on her first 3.5-year world cruise on May 15, 2024, most recently experienced problems with her rudder stocks, a critical propulsion element.

In a YouTube video posted on June 24, 2024, a cruise line representative offered details about the mechanical issue, explaining that the two stainless steel rods — called rudder stocks— that control the rudders were found by inspectors to be corroded and rusted, and needed repair.

The official, who was filmed in the dry dock space inside the construction bay where the ship is now stored, reported that the rudder stocks were removed and hauled to a machine shop, where workers are “grinding and shaping them so they can be put back in.”

The rudder stocks are expected to have their final fit test at the machine shop on June 25, 2024, and then be delivered to the shipyard and installed. Once they are in place, the rudders will be mounted back onto the rudder stocks and Villa Vie Odyssey can be floated out of dry dock.

Worth Reading: How the Ship’s Rudder Works – The Basics

The ship, built in 1993, has been plagued with problems and delays. The first delay happened in early March, when the ship was unable to leave Edinburgh, where she had been stored for several years before Villa Vie Residences purchased her. 

The vessel was slated to sail to Belfast to undergo an eight-week renovation, but instead entered dry dock in Edinburgh and remained there until about April 24. At that point, the cruise line changed her original launch location of Southampton to Belfast, and delayed her launch date from May 15, 2024 to May 30, 2024.

However, Villa Vie Odyssey’s debut date changed again, to June 4, 2024, after problems with the ship’s grey water tanks were discovered. After that issue was resolved, her new debut date was set for June 15, 2024. But at that point, the rudder stock problem revealed itself, and currently, there is no scheduled date for the ship to enter service.

Villa Vie Residences has not released any new information about how it might be assisting guests who already arrived in Northern Ireland to board the ship. After the ship’s earlier delays, the cruise line had offered accommodations, transportation, and excursions to guests stuck in Belfast waiting for the ship to sail. 

Residential World Cruise Rates Start at $99,999 Per Person

Villa Vie Residences, whose business model is based on operating continuous world voyages, each with a duration of 3.5 years, bought the ship in March 2024. Villa Vie Odyssey, built in 1993, was formerly named MS Braemar and was last owned by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. Before that, it was operated by other lines, including Cunard, as Cunard Crown Dynasty.

Read Also: What NOT to Do When Choosing Your Cruise Cabins

Villa Vie Residences Odyssey Cruise Ship
Villa Vie Residences Odyssey Cruise Ship

Fort Lauderdale-based Villa Vie Residences revealed its residence-at-sea program in 2023, inviting cruisers to buy a cabin and live on the ship as it operates continuous world cruises every 3.5 years. 

Cabin rates start at $99,999 (USD) per person for an inside stateroom, rising to $299,999 for a balcony stateroom, and to $349,999 for a balcony suite. The 23,344-gross ton ship accommodates 929 world cruise guests, who will visit all seven continents, more than 145 countries, and a total of 425 individual ports every 3.5 years.

The company recently unveiled its Endless Horizons program for retirees. It offers lifetime sailing aboard the ship for a one-time cost of $299,999 (USD) for single occupancy and $499,999 (USD) for double occupancy.

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