Problems ground gambling ship

Trips aboard the Ocean Jewel were canceled because the ship would not start. Service is to resume on Wednesday.

Published November 29, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - Voyages on the gambling ship Ocean Jewel were canceled over the weekend because of a problem with a compressor on the 450-foot vessel.

Crew members couldn't start the ship because of the problem.

The voyage Saturday was canceled before any customers arrived, said Howard Steffes, president of Titan Cruise Lines, which owns the Ocean Jewel of St. Petersburg.

He said staff members told people pulling into the parking lot that the voyages were canceled because of mechanical problems.

"We couldn't get it started so we couldn't go out," Steffes said.

Steffes estimated 800 to 1,000 people would have been on each voyage.

He said Monday and Tuesday are the vessel's usual days off. Service was expected to resume as scheduled Wednesday.

After a shaky debut on Oct. 22, in which a sudden wind turned an eight-hour cruise into a 12-hour ordeal, the casino ship has been running without major problems, Steffes said.

Cruise line officials this month began offering a high-speed shuttle service to the gambling ship's course in international waters. The high-speed catamarans make the trip in about 45 minutes, much quicker than the 21/2-hour voyage on the ship.