KIRO TV reports that the Grand Princess cruise ship experienced a problem with one of its engines and was required to return to port in Seattle for almost four hours.
The U.S. Coast Guard said that a port-side engine "died" on the cruise ship around 4:50 PM after the the ship left Seattle heading on an Alaskan cruise.
KING 5 news station says that a tug had to assist the ship back to port.
The cruise ship has two shafts and two fixed propellers.
Princess Cruises spokesperson Julie Benson said in a prepared statement:
“Grand Princess has returned to the Port of Seattle, in consultation with the U.S. Coast Guard, following an earlier issue with one of the ship's motors. At no time was guest safety impacted as the ship had propulsion and steering control. As a precaution the ship is returning to port for a safety check and we hope to depart again later this evening. We will keep passengers fully informed.”
The KIRO television station reports that Ms. Benson also said "several similar incidents" have happened with Grand Princess before.
A passenger, identified as David Meers, was critical of the cruise line's lack of communications. He reportedly said “thirty or forty minutes into the cruise, the ship listed to one side. Shortly after that, we turned around. We started asking the crew members what happened, and nobody seemed to know anything.”
It was 40 minutes after turning around that the captain announced there was a propulsion alarm that required them to go back to Seattle. For the next 4 hours, the passenger said there was little communication at all, about any possible changes to their itinerary or whether customers would be compensated for the delay. He said “it certainly left a lot of confusion, among the folks that we were asking. And most of the passengers around us were also very confused.”
To Princess' credit, the cruise line communicated with this passenger via Twitter saying: @DavidMeers Hi David, we apologize for the delayed start to your vacation (1/2) and later @DavidMeers Grand Princess is returning to port for an inspection due to a technical issue, and we hope to depart later this evening (2/2).
After the unspecified repairs, the cruise ship left Seattle around 10 PM.
The passenger's last tweet? @PrincessCruises Glad it wasn't more serious. All is well that ends well. Enjoyed the beautiful Seattle skyline again.
The mechanical problem seems to have been fixed with the ship sailing at 22 knots to Alaska.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ivan T.