Have you checked the connections on the cartridge? While unlikly they would have come undone, in this world anything is possible. Also the phono cable's connections.
The Excel is discontinued as you may know, so if you replace it, it will have to be by something else.
You could sell the dead cartridge at a low price for rebuilding.
Alternatively you could have it rebuilt and continue to enjoy it. The cost would be less than a new one. I have had two cartridges rebuilt by Soundsmith in Peekskill NY and another done by Benz in Switzerland. In both cases the work was excellent, the cartridges sounded new and in one case, apparently better than new.
Tobias - thanks for the response. i will check out soundsmith; also goldring responded to my email, and they too would repair it as long as the body is not damaged, they say. it's not; actually its in great shape so i might take that route. got a decision to make, as this might be an opportunity to try a different sound.