Big Red Boat III departure canceled

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Premier Cruise Lines canceled its Big Red Boat III's June 17 departure from Houston, said Bruce Nierenberg, president.

The ship is in Mobile, Ala. undergoing repairs following last weekend's collision with a tugboat in the Houston Ship Channel.

Nierenberg said damage to the ship's propeller is "more extensive than originally thought." He expects the ship to be ready for its June 24 departure.

Guests on the June 17 sailing can transfer their booking to another sailing date and will receive a 50% discount certificate good for any future Premier cruise.

Passengers who cancel their bookings will receive a refund and a 50% discount off a future sailing.

Premier seems to be in the midst of a bad-luck string.

On June 13 Premier's Big Red Boat II -- apparently dragging its anchor -- damaged two underwater power lines connecting Newport and Jamestown, R.I. as the ship left Newport with 698 passengers.

There were no injuries reported, but the severed lines caused 6,000 residents in Newport and Jamestown to lose electrical power for up to 17 hours. The incident also forced Jamestown's fire department to supply water to residents on the island's north end, who rely on wells and septic systems.

Newport harbormaster Jake Farrell said the ship's anchor should have been raised.

Farrell ordered the anchor line severed to prevent further damage to the cables.

Officials at Narragansett Electric, the supplier whose cables were cut by the Premier ship, say they intend to send claims for damages to individuals and businesses to Premier.

A Premier spokeswoman said she didn't know why the anchor wasn't raised. The Coast Guard's Marine Safety Office in Providence is investigating the accident.

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