The only St. Petersburg ferry operator, Italian Moby SPL (former St. Peterline, now owned by Moby Group), has announced all the departures planned till December 18 will be canceled due to repair of its only ferry Princess Anastasia. This three-week long cancellation came after the company had canceled runs several times for shorter periods. It’s still unclear whether the vessel will be OK on December 19.
UPDATE: on December 5, the company announced that cancellation extended till January 8. Thus, the next departure will be only next navigation starting in March 2020.
UPDATE II: In January 2020, CEO of Moby SPL Sergey Kotenev confirmed the season 2020 starts in March as planned.
A long series of bad days for Princess Anastasia has started in early November, when the ferry experienced an unpleasant incident upon leaving the port of Stockholm. Local media firstly reported a pile up, then there were reports about a collision with shore. In any case, the vessel stopped, then returned to the port and left it again after an inspection. The delay resulted in a broken schedule, which had rather little consequences compared with what would happen next.
The company publicly disavowed the rumors and reports about the alleged pile up and the collision with shore. The operator’s press service claimed that a sudden restart of power generators took place, so the inspection was needed to check if everything works well.
Soon thereafter, on November 13, the first news about cancellation of voyages from November 13 to 15 arrived. The ferry was docked in Gdynia for some technical works, which the company was reluctant to go into details about. Then, on November 14, the repair period was prolonged till November 20, and then once again till November 27.
At last, Moby SPL announced the return of the ferry as of November 28. But something went wrong again. The vessel left a dock for test runs and got back for further repair soon.
While Moby’s English-speaking account in Facebook was calm with no comments from passengers, a Russian social network VK.com was full of furious comments. Besides negatives remarks on plans fallen through, the absence of full refund and the lack of certainty for the future, passengers repeatedly asked the company about what had happened to the vessel.
Finally, Moby SPL’s CEO Sergey Kotenev opened up in an interview with Fontanka.ru media agency. In his words, the first incident in Stockholm was linked with countershaft grease-retainers. They were replaced, and then during the test runs in Gdynia an abnormal heating of the retainers was registered which caused the need for return to the dock. Italians technicians have not still been able to find out the cause of the overheating. Moreover, some other defects were discovered to contribute to the failure.
It’s difficult to say when the 1986-built ferry will continue voyages. The company keeps tight lips on it, saying the only reliable information is that runs have been canceled till December 18 and that passengers can get refund or have their journeys changed with ones in the season 2020, including the summer period too.
Will all this mishap affect prices next year? With the loading rate of nearly 100 percent, it’ highly unlikely that the operator will not try to correct the prices to compensate the damage. Which means that early booking makes sense as never before.
Cover photo credit: The company MOBY SPL LIMITED