SEATTLE -- Ferry maintenance issues forced the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to cancel an annual holiday cruise for kids and adults with developmental disabilities.

Nearly 1000 people were scheduled to be on the cruise, including 750 people with developmental disabilities, organizers said.

It is with sadness that we cancel the holiday cruise, David Mosely, assistance secretary for WSDOT's ferries division, said in a statement Monday.

The 90-minute cruise, which was supposed tohappen Saturday afternoon, has been taking place for 29 years, said Lou Pappas, a retired ferry worker who helps organize the event. The Active Ferry Employees Charitable Trust puts on the cruise. It is a labor of love for current and retired ferry workers, along with other volunteers, including the U.S. Coast Guard and Seafair Pirates.

I shed a tear because it's going to be very hard to explain, said Peter Klasell, a pirate who was bracing for his 16th year entertaining people on the boat.

Mark Jensen, a retired pirate who now oversees the Holiday Treasure Chest, was a huge fan of the annual cruise. His11-year-old granddaughter, who has Down syndrome, has been on the cruise twice.

She loves the horn, he said with a laugh. They love you more than anybody and they expect to see you each year and they remember you each year.

A rash of ferry maintenance issues means the Tacoma, which was supposed to be used for Saturday's cruise, must go back into service instead, WSDOTsaid. Three ferry vessels are expected to return to service in the next two weeks to help alleviate service disruptions.

Some service programs that work with people who were supposed to attend the cruisetold KING 5 that their groups were heartbroken aboutthe cancellation.

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