100 MPH Wind / Listing Incident - What Happened to the Explorer of the Seas?

We have been contacted by a number of passengers from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas about a frightening experience when the cruise ship suddenly listed around four a.m. on February 28th.  All of those individuals who contacted us simply wanted an explanation regarding what happened, and they were frustrated regarding the lack of factual information from the cruise line.

What is curious about this incident is that the Explorer has sophisticated atmospheric and oceanographic equipment aboard the vessel monitored by the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Explorer of the Seas - ListingThe Explorer of the Seas left Port Liberty New Jersey on February 26th for the Caribbean.  What happened is less than clear given the conflicting accounts posted on line.  

Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie web site contains a description of the the incident from a passenger:

".  .  .  guest lodging on level 3 were under water, the Promenade was a titanic disaster, crew quickly left stations to report to lifeboat stations, tvs crashing, objects in cabins flying around."  

The on line Cruise Critic site also had a number of similar comments by concerned passengers.

Just returned from the 2/26 Explorer of the Seas.  NOT sure of how much danger we were in or how close we came to capsizing . . RCI is covering up and Stonewalling the release of any details. But we do know the Captain's 4am announcement that stated an unforeseen 100 mile per hour wind caused the pilot "to lose control" of the ship causing it to list, causing all the loose items in the cabin to go flying about the cabin, cause enough breakage in the liquor store to force it not to open did not instill any confidence in us.  Cruisers on the 6th deck reported their balconies almost touching the water.  We suspect the list was greater than the 10 degrees reported.  What was wrong with the meteorological and navigational equipment that the weather conditions were unknown?  We heard but could not confirm that two people were reportedly thrown from the hot tub resulting in a broken knee and a broken toe ..

Most accounts by passengers estimate the list between 10 and 15 degrees.

Perhaps the most straight forward comments about this most recent incident came from another Cruise Critic reader

"I was on the cruise on explorer 2/26 and the ship did list at 14 degrees not 10 and it took almost 4 minutes to get it back to normal. I was awake the whole time and left my cabin on deck 6 when all the books on my table fell to the ground and the mini bar door opened and slid half way out. I got up went to deck 11 and the were two people in the the hot tubs.
 
They did not get thrown out but all their clothes were blown over board by the powerful wind gusts that hit the back of the ship. The water in the tubs all emptied and some came in the ship by Portofinos an soaked the rugs there. I talked to an officer in the promenade just after the ship was righted and he was extremely concerned with what transpired. The auto pilot software should have compensated for the wind switch and the ballast tanks should also have been controlled by the auto pilot. which did not happen. They have a serious problem with the auto pilot software from where I stand. This all should have been compensated for in the software that controls the ships steering systems .  .  .  More serious than you think."
 
Explorer of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Wind - ListingAs is usual in the Cruise Critic community, anyone with negative comments about the experience was ridiculed by the other readers and accused of exaggerating the incident.
 
But the reality is that unless consumers step forward and provide information like this, the cruise line will be more than happy for such incidents to remain unreported.  The Explorer was involved in another severe listing incident back in 2005.  Like this incident, there was little factual information released by the cruise line.  The on line discussion at Cruise Critic  unraveled with the readers mocking one another. 
 

Royal Caribbean has suffered through the past many years with a reputation of being less than transparent with environmental infractions and crimes on its fleet of cruise ships.  In instances like this, the cruise line needs to issue a detailed statement of the facts of the incident so that U.S. passengers can understand what happened.  There are detailed reports of the wind and wave conditions, and the cruising public needs to know what happened and whether there is a glitch in the automatic piloting system on the cruise ship.  This will avoid all of the speculation and may assist Royal Caribbean finally taking some much needed steps to improve its corporate image. 

This cruise line's PR spokesperson is Cynthia Martinez.  Her LinkedIn profile lists her as the "Manager of Corporate Communications (Crisis) at Royal Caribbean."  Her duties include providing  "communications guidance and counsel during crisis situations involving issues such as: environmental, litigations, health & medical, weather, marine and hotel operations, onboard accidents and alleged crimes."

Why hasn't the public heard from Ms. Martinez regarding this incident? 

Ms. Martinez does not respond to inquiries for information from our firm.  Perhaps if a passenger makes an inquiry directly, some factual information will be forthcoming - although I would not hold my breath.

Her email is CynthiaMartinez@rccl.com

We will be looking into this matter further.  If you were a passenger on this cruise ship, we would like to hear your comments about the experience and how the incident was handled by the cruise line, good or bad.

March 15 Update:

One reader who was on the cruise made the folowing assessment: "The entire incident made me question who the cruise ship reports it to, if anyone. I didn't see a thing about it in the press. The whole system seems very lax and a disaster waiting to happen. I have a background in insurance and it seems that the cruise line takes risks everywhere."

 

Credits:

Explorer of the Seas                           Wickipedia

Wind Sea & Swell Charts                    Ocean Wave Systems

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Anonymous - March 23, 2010 3:06 PM

I work aboard the Explorer of the Seas and I don't believe the hype about deck 3 being under water and deck 6 balconies almost touching the water. The ship did list quite a bit but not near the 45 degree point where capsize is possible.

You have to remember that software can only be programmed to handle so much. For one thing, it's entirely possible that there is a hard limit imposed on the software for exactly how much ballast and stabilizer adjustment is permitted based on the computer's own calculations. If there were, say, an error in the data received by the ship's weather systems, and it presented incorrect information that there was a very strong wind force or other condition (meanwhile the ship is actually in no wind at all), the ship computer could erroneously push all of the stabilizers and ballast tanks to their limits, listing the ship even further than the 14 degrees seen here.

For this reason, I believe it is likely the software hit its pre-determined maximum amount of compensation for wind, and when it wasn't enough, a bridge officer likely had to calculate the data manually and override the system with human-calculated compensation values to overcome the list.

Judy - March 24, 2010 8:27 AM

I was on Explorer of the Seas with a small group of people (21) and yes we did feel the ship tilt, however I think people are making this more than what it was. We had no serious injuries to the passengers or crew so why is everybody up in arms. I think people like the attention they are given when they report something or have nothing better to do with there time.

Move on with your life and stop making a big deal out of nothing.

MCRXXXXX - May 9, 2010 10:45 AM

Yes unfortunatelly: there is a lot suicide on the Royal Caribbean ships. just last week one of our friend jumped overboard and they could not find him, he jumped 20.15 but the ship (explorer of the seas ) continue to sail and they realized after 2 hours, after 2 hours later they returned but it was too late, and we could not find him, he was a waiter. He suicided because we are all working under pressure and we work long hours especially, Dining room department one of the worst department in the ship. Working 11 hours every single day without salary. I am deeply sorry writing this comments but that might be the reason he suicided.

Renato Barreira - November 14, 2010 5:22 PM

I knew Budaro, nice guy, very gentle.
I used to work on Royal Caribbean as well and they really could work on the company issues about employies, eleven hours a day, no salary. They do take advantage of people from pour countries. The most of people from Well balanced economy countries dont make more than two contracts unfortunely the poor countries people have no choice back home so they have to stick with royal caribbean.

Moses kestenbaum ODA - September 9, 2013 7:36 AM

I felt the listing but since I was getting over an overhang it didn't seem that bad. The girl that I was with did fall off the bed while deep asleep next to me , hey oceans are powerfull what do you expect?

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