Silversea's Silver Explorer cruise ship suffered damage on January 12, 2013 while sailing the Drake Passage to Antarctica from the port of Ushuaia, Argentina. Four crew members were injured in the incident and were treated in the ship's infirmary.
News sources say that a large wave struck the cruise ship and knocked out a window on the ship's bridge at a height of at least 30 feet above the waterline.
The small expedition cruise ship carried 133 passengers and 113 crew members. The cruise line stated that four crew members suffered injuries and were treated at the medical center of the ship.
Silversea is not saying much else except the usual PR comments that everything is fine. It will be interesting to hear the passengers' version of what happened.
The next cruise scheduled for January 21st has been canceled. The cruise line states that the Silver Explorer should back to its normal schedule of cruises to Antarctica trip on January 31st.
Cruises to Antarctica, or to the Arctic, are not for the timid. Rough weather, high winds and big waves are to be expected Check out the Clelia II cruise ship in distress in Antarctica which has been viewed over 350,000 times on our YouTube page. It made our top 5 cruise ship disaster videos. There have been a number of incidents where cruise ships to the polar regions have lost power, suffered smashed windows, run into rocks, and have even capsized:
Were you on the Silver Explorer and have info, photos or video to share? Please let us hear from you.
Cruise industry expert Professor Ross Klein's website, Cruise Junkie, mentions an incident this last Sunday involving a passenger ferry in France.
High winds broke a dozen mooring lines to the Napoleon Bonaparte, a passenger and vessel ferry. The impact with the pier ripped a 30-metre long hole in the stern, causing water to flood compartments below the waterline. The vessel is listing at port in Marseille.
The Daily Mail in the U.K. has the full account and a number of photographs of the stricken vessel.
Photo credit: EPA via Daily Mail
A family cruise aboard a Disney cruise ship turned from fun to terror when the ship encountered Hurricane Sandy.
The McGee family from Franklin, Tennessee were expecting a great time when they booked a 7 day trip (their first cruise) on the Disney Fantasy to the Caribbean.
The McGees had fun for the first four days but when the ship tried to sail back to Port Canaveral, Hurricane Sandy turned the vacation into a terrifying journey. "I think it's only by the grace of God that there wasn't any serious injury," said McGee. "I would really appreciate it if Disney would say, ‘We made the wrong decision. We shouldn't have done that to our guests.'"
Disney offered the McGees and other passengers a 25 percent discount on a future Disney vacation, but Ms. McGee believes the Disney staff should have done more to keep the passengers informed and safe.
Story / Video credit: News Channel 5
With the HMS Bounty falling victim to the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, an ugly spectacle is playing out on the tall ship's facebook page.
Lots of people are leaving comments criticizing the decision of the captain (Robin Walbridge) to try and sail through the storm, while others are praising the captain (still lost at sea) as a skilled and brave mariner.
I am not going to wade into the debate, except to say that when I first learned that the Bounty was trying to make it through the hurricane I was shocked. You can read our first article here.
Yes, there is a saying that it is safer for the ship to be at sea rather than at port (where the ship can sustain serious damage such as striking a pier), but there is no question that it is safer for the crew to be ashore rather than on the high seas trying to navigate around a monster storm like this.
Memories of the Fantome, lost in Hurricane Mitch in 1998, come to mind - A Cornered Ship, 32 Men and a Date With Doom.
The Bounty's facebook page contains some eerie reading as communications from the captain were posted on line explaining his strategy as he tried to skirt the hurricane.
Here's an excerpt of one of the captain's last communications:
"I think we are going to be into this for several days, the weater looks like even after the eye goes by it will linger for a couple of days
We are just going to keep trying to go fast and squeese by the storm and land as fast as we can.
I am thinking that we will pass each other sometime Sunday night or Monday morning
All else is well."
The Tall Ships Organization issued a statement asking for there to be no speculation about the incident and for the public to support the crew and hope for Captain Walbridge’s safe return.
Notably missing from the statement is any mention of crew member, 42-year-old Claudene Christian, who died in the ordeal.
Photo credits: Sunken HMS Bounty - U.S. Coast Guard
Weather - HMS Bounty facebook page
While some cruise ships have elected to hunker down in port and ride out Hurricane Sandy, other ships such as the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas and Carnival's Miracle are out at sea trying to skirt the high seas and high winds. ABC News reports:
The HMS Bounty, a three masted sailing ship which was built for the 1962 movie Mutiny on the Bounty starring Marlon Brando and more recently was featured in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, sank in the Atlantic after encountering high winds and heavy seas brought by Hurricane Sandy.
The ship was reportedly sailing from Connecticut to St. Petersburg, Florida when it began taking on water and lost propulsion last night.
According to the HMS Bounty Organization's website, the ship's position was off the coast of North Carolina, at N 34°22' W 074°15'.
There were 16 people aboard the ship including crew as well as passengers.
Last night, the Coast Guard dispatched a C-130 aircraft to the area. This morning two Coast Guard helicopters arrived and hoisted 14 people who had abandoned ship and were in 25-foot lifeboats. Two individuals are missing.
The news accounts raise the question why the ship was sailing given the advance warnings of the storm.
The situation reminds me of the loss of the Windjammer Fantome, a tall masted ship which sank in 1998 during Hurricane Mitch.
October 29, 2012 Update: ABC News is reporting that the two individuals lost at sea went overboard when they were attempting to transfer to lifeboats. "What we know is that the whole crew was getting ready to board the life rafts, and as they were about to board, three people ended up on the water. One was able to get out [of the water] and get into rafts, and the other two are still unaccounted," Lt. Junior Grade Brendan Selerno told ABCNews.com.
The survivors were taken to Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina. Two people were admitted to the hospital, one with a broken arm and another with an injured back.
Other news sources are reporting that one of two missing crewmembers, 42-year-old Claudene Christian, was found this evening but she was npn-responsive. The 63-year-old captain, Robin Walbridge, remains missing.
A video of the Coast Guard rescue is below. it is dramatic; you can hear one of the crew say the "raft flipped 2 PIW" (two people in water).
October 31, 2012 Update: The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing to search for the captain and is hopeful that he may still alive in his survival gear.
CNN's iReport has a story and video of the effect of Hurricane Sandy on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.
Last week I mentioned a compensation claim filed in the U.K. at London's High Court following the death of a doctor, Michael Bedford, age 70, who lost his life while cruising as a passenger aboard the MV Athena. Dr. Bedford fell down a flight of stairs on the cruise ship as it sailed to North America during a storm. He later died due to his injuries.
The gist of the claim is that the cruise ship was negligent in not heeding weather warnings or providing safety warnings to the doctor and other passengers. Sixteen passengers are also suing for injuries claimed in the rough weather.
There was not a lot of information on BBC News which mentioned the death. So I can't comment on the specifics of the storm and the details of the ensuing death and multiple injuries. But there are some generalizations which I have learned over the years handling injury and death cases due to rough weather.
First, most injuries are entirely preventable. If the navigational officers utilize their available systems and convey meaningful and timely warnings to the passengers and crew, all passengers and crew should be ordered to stay in their cabins until the high winds and rough waves pass. All activities on the cruise ship - like dinners, shows, casinos - should be shut down and there should be no one walking around the ship.
The situation is particularly serious when elderly quests are involved. Some cruise lines have standardized procedures requiring crew members to be positioned near stairwells and elevators to make certain that the passengers get safely back to their cabins when a storm strikes.
Maritime law requires cruise ships to exercise the highest degree of care to its guests when rough weather strikes.
Dr. Bedford's wife stated that "Michael was a disciplinarian and would have stayed in his cabin if he was told to do so by the ship's Captain."
No one should forget the two deaths and serious injuries to 14 passengers on the Louis Majesty cruise ship during rough weather in the Mediterranean where passenger were permitted to freely walk around the cruise ship. No one would have died if the officers warned the passengers and instructed them to return to their cabins.
A similar incident occurred two years ago where a passenger died and multiple passengers were injured during rough weather which struck the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas as it was heading to port in Egypt. The cruise line denied all liability but thereafter paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements and the Royal Caribbean captain was relieved of his command.
So it was disturbing today to see the flippant and disrespectful comments to the account of the deadly storm tossed cruise ship in the popular USA TODAY cruise log by Gene Sloan. Here are the reader comments:
Steve Clouther - Please, give me a break . . The cruise line should sue them for attempting to tarnish their reputation.
Mona Graham - . . . this is ridiculous.
Martin Lynn Vogel - Lawyers are vultures.
Chip Gay -· The judge better throw it out or you will see lawsuit rain. I got hurt on a passenger train, because of the thunderstorm. I was on a bus and we did some hydroplaining (sic) and it made me poop my pants . . .
Hanno Phoenicia - Please put these passengers and their lawyers on a leaky boat and throw them overboard.
Corcho Ekim - Drown the crybabies.
Even the moderator of the cruise blog, Gene Sloan, got into the fun with a comment on Twitter: Says one @CruiseLog reader of lawsuit over stormy weather on cruise across Atlantic: "What a bunch of nonsense!"
Of course, there is nothing nonsensical where someone dies on a cruise ship, particularly an elderly passenger trying to navigate a flight of stairs during rough weather, apparently without assistance.
The disturbing thing about the Cruise Log comments is that there was no debate, no difference of opinion, no intelligent discourse, no understanding of the laws which govern the situation, and no interest in being informed. Only contempt for the dead and injured, seemingly egged on by its moderator.
Photo Credit: Athena Cruise Ship - thisisplymouth.co.uk
A fire broke out on the Queen Mary 2 Wednesday night.
Cruise Critic, which characterizes the fire as "small," explains that "fire was caused by one of QM2's gas turbines, which are situated below and behind the ship's funnel. They're used to augment power to the ship's main quartet of diesel turbines, allowing the ship to travel at a higher maximum speed . . . "
Cunard issued a statement claiming that the fire was "immediately extinguished." The cruise line also claims that "neither passengers nor crew were adversely affected, and neither was the operation of the ship."
Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website contains a reference to a post on Cruise Critic which provides a different perspective on the incident:
"A gas carbine in the engine room of the QM2 caught on fire this evening. Cunard staff were given a 90 minute warning in order to prepare to deploy the lifeboats. Guests had their children dropped off and their animals picked up from the kennels. Apparently it is now under control, but people are understandably shaken up."
Last December, the QM2 suffered a major engine room incident - Power Outage on Queen Mary 2 Due to Catastrophic Explosion.
The QM2 will be arriving today in New York late due to what the cruise line describes as "high winds and active seas."
It is a scary proposition that the Cunard cruise ship was contemplating the use of life boats in such rough weather.
It will be interesting to hear the first hand accounts of the QM2 cruise passengers once they disembark today from their transatlantic voyage.
If you were on the cruise and have comments, photos or video to share, please leave a comment below.
October 10, 2011 Update: We are receiving some interesting and intelligent comments from a number of cruisers who were on the QM2. Sounds like a bumpy ride and a fortunate ending to a potentially dangerous situation. Here is a quote from a passenger who emailed me rather than leaving a comment:
"The biggest problem with the fire on the QM2 was its location. It was NOT as previously reported in an engine room, but in a gas turbine up on deck 12. The problem was this was an open deck and the winds were very strong that night. Yes the fire was minor but the risk was that it could have been spread by very high winds. In fact after the fire was contained, the captain announced that there would be an observation team on deck 12 all night as there were some burning embers.
We learned later that if the fire had not been contained we would have had to board lifeboats in very rough waters (20-25 ft seas). Many of the passengers were needing assistance when we tendered in calm seas, because of age and physical limitations, walkers, wheelchairs etc. At the time of the fire we were more than 250 nautical miles out to sea. Just wanted to clear up a few facts. Thank you."
Photo credit: Wikipedia (Malis)
When I was a kid, it seemed like the most popular movies were disaster flicks. Movies like the Poseidon Adventure and Towering Inferno which exploited the public with images of terror, fear, and panic.
Today, disaster movies are not limited to the movie theater. We are living in a iReport society where CNN, MSNBC and FOX News regularly broadcast iPhone videos of fires, floods, and bedlam, including cruise ship disasters.
Unfortunately, there will be stories in the future where cruise ships catch on fire, sink or are hijacked by terrorists. The cruise lines will frantically try and suppress the images and assure the public that everything is OK. But YouTube will be there to reveal the truth. And everyone will be watching the disaster.
I picked the top 5 "worst cruise ship disaster" videos. Nothing subtle here. Exploitational? Maybe so, but these are not low budget disaster movies. They are real. With real people aboard. Fortunately, in most of the incidents no one was killed or seriously injured. Take a look and see how Mother Nature can interrupt your serene cruise vacation:
Number 5: Stabilizers? What Stabilizers? Okay, I admit it. I have to take a Dramamine before I click the play button for this video. It shows what a cyclone can do to a cruise ship. I'm not sure which cruise ship this is or when or where this occurred. Does anyone know? Was anyone reading this on the ship? Let us hear from you.
Number 4: Keep this video secret! Don't let the lawyers see it! Last September the internet was a buzz with the release of CCTV films of the interior of the P&O Cruises' Pacific Sun, which ran into heavy weather in June 2008. P&O had also understated the effects of the storm on the cruise ship and passengers, and it was successful keeping the CCTV under wraps for over two years.
But the video finally made its way out of P&O's control this fall. When the truth came out, the video went viral! A number of passenger were injured. You can clearly see one young lady smash her face into a column at the 47 second mark.
Cruise lines are experts keeping video like this secret. The risk management departments of cruise lines hide these types of video from the public's eyes. This permits the cruise lines to contest the passengers' accounts of injuries and lets the defense lawyers claim that the passengers are exaggerating. Would you have believed what occurred in the video if you did not see it?
Number 3: Anyone for a relaxing cruise to Antarctica? The Clelia II cruise ship caught the country's attention when passengers on the National Geographic Explorer filmed it bouncing around by big waves and howling wind as it was trying to make its way back to Argentina from Antarctica. (Video by Fiona Stewart/Garett McIntosh (via jonbowermaster.com) 88 U.S. passengers were aboard as it limped back to port after a wave broke over the bridge of the vessel and smashed windows, interrupting communications and causing an electrical outage that reduced power to one of its engines.
Number 2: Death on the Louis Majesty cruise ship: The Greece-based Louis Cruise Lines ship was heading east to Genoa, Italy when waves struck the vessel and smashed windows in public areas, killing two passengers and injuring fourteen others.
The "Louis Majesty" used to be NCL's "Norwegian Majesty" and, before that, the "Royal Majesty" operated by Majesty Cruise Lines from 1992 - 1997. Long before I began representing passengers and crewmembers, I represented Majesty Cruise Lines (around 1995) when this cruise ship was based in Miami. I have been on this ship and in the area where the glass blew out. The Royal Majesty was considered a large cruise ship 20 years ago. A real tragedy, which could have been avoided if the officers aboard had instructed the passengers to remain in their cabins.
Number 1: And the winner is: the cruise ship Oceanos which sank back in 1991. Unlike the other disasters attributable to rough weather, this disaster was man made. The Oceanos was a Greek-owned cruise ship in a state of neglect, with loose hull plates, valves stripped for repair parts, and a hole in one of its "watertight" bulkheads. When the cruise ship began to sink, the cowardly captain and officers were the first into a lifeboat, abandoning children, women, and elderly passengers to face a certain death. But due to the courage of one of the ship's entertainers and a dramatic and nothing-less-than-miraculous rescue that followed, everyone was saved! A happy ending to a terrifying ordeal.
Do you have a video that should be in a top 5 or top 10 list of cruise disasters? Let us hear from you . . .
CBS News is reporting that a "ferocious winter storm" pounded Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas as the cruise ship was heading into port in Alexandria, Egypt yesterday.
Hurricane force winds and thirty foot waves caused the ship to roll violently. Passengers complained of furniture and beds being tossed around. Cruise Critic contained this account from a passenger:
Horrid rollovers at sea approaching Alexandria an hour ago at 2 am. Thrown from bed + nearly pinned between bed that was wildly rolling to the walls and balcony slider -- with upended furniture + broken glass everywhere. Feet cut as we tried to get out of room, and badly bruised, but glad to be alive. Very sore. Very scary . . . Worse as we're up on deck 10. Couldn't quite make it to Alexandria, but don't know where we"re going - and it's still very bumpy and terrifying.
The popular U.K. cruising blog "Captain GreyBeard" reports "30 Hurt As Storm Batters Brilliance." However, Royal Caribbean's PR department downplayed the incident, indicating that the cruise ship "had full power and was operating as normal" and that no passengers were "seriously injured."
The Brilliance bypassed Alexandria and is now sailing to Valetta, Malta.
Credit: CBS News
The partially disabled Clelia II cruise ship is facing extreme weather conditions with 88 U.S. passengers aboard as it limps back to port in Argentina after one of its engines stopped working.
Operated by Polar Cruises, (but see comments below), the Clelia II is a Antarctica explorer vessel with a crew of around 77. The cruise ship experienced limited maneuverability as it was navigating through the Drake Passage to Ushuaia, Argentina some 845 kilometers away. The Buenos Aires Herald reported that the wind was blowing at about 90 km and the weather conditions were harsh.
Other news sources report that engine failed when a wave broke over the bridge of the vesse and smashed windowsl, interrupting communications and causing an electrical outage that reduced power to the port engine.
The Merco Press has an excellent article about the crisis and explains that the Clelia II sent out a distress call and is being aided by another antarctica cruise vessel, the NG Explorer, which relayed the emergency call. The Chilean vessel ATF Lautaro was dispatched to the area to aid the cruise ship however it is located 18 hours from the Clelia II.
The Clelia II departed on a ten day cruise on November 30th. The cruise reportedly costs in the range of $8,000 to $15,000.
This is not the first time this cruise ship faced an emergency. Last December, we reported that the Clelia II was disabled in Antarctica when it ran into some underground rocks. The operator was criticized for not timely reporting the incident and then downplaying the seriousness of the risks posed to passengers.
The video below was filmed by passengers on the National Geographic Explorer.
Were you aboard the Clelia II during this latest incident? Please leave us a comment below.
December 8, 2010 Update:
We were contacted by Polar Cruises who states that it is not the operator of the Clelia II. Before this incident, the Polar Cruises website did not disclose the identity or nationality of the operators (or owners) of the Clelia II. There is now a link at the website to a press release by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) which indicates that the Clelia II is operated by "Travel Dynamics International" and owned by "Helios Shipping of Piraeus, Greece."
December 10, 2010 Update:
December 12, 2010 Update:
ABC News interviews passsengers after they return to Argentina.
Credit: Clelia II video: Video courtesy Fiona Stewart / Garett McIntosh (via jonbowermaster.com)
The internet has been a buzz today with the release of closed circuit television video (CCTV) of the interior of the P&O Cruises' Pacific Sun, which ran into a bout of heavy weather in June 2008.
A number of passenger were injured. You can clearly see one young lady smash her face into a column at the 47 second mark in the first video of the lounge area.
The second video is of a lower deck showing a forklift narrowly miss running over a crew member.
Cruise lines are experts keeping video like this secret. The security and risk management departments of cruise line keep these types of video away from the public's eyes. This permits the cruise lines to contest the passengers' accounts of injuries and lets the defense lawyers claim that the passengers are exaggerating.
Would you have believed this if you did not see it?
What honest soul at the cruise line leaked these tapes?
- The Pacific Sun was on a tight schedule and this placed the captain in a "difficult situation" to return to Auckland to ensure the following cruise left on time.
- By not heaving-to earlier, the report said, he "inadvertently placed" the ship in the worst sea conditions, 322km northeast of North Cape;
- The crew were essentially flying blind, unable to see or monitor abnormal swells of up to 7m in darkness;
- The ship's stablisers were inoperative - one was worn out and the other was rendered useless in the slow speeds that the ship was reduced to;
- Two of the four muster stations - areas where passengers are meant to congregate in an emergency - were also rendered useless because of the damage and mess caused by unsecured furnishings; and
- The accident damaged the ship's main satellite system, reducing officers' abilities to communicate with shore.
Many passengers were concerned to see crew wearing lifejackets, while they were not.
Passengers' injuries ranged in severity from broken bones, to cuts and bruises, with seven seriously hurt and three were greeted by ambulances when the ship berthed in Auckland two days later.
One passenger had part of a finger amputated. The report said other passengers suffered anxiety attacks.
The cruise line offered the passengers a small discount off on a future cruise.
For another incredible video, watch what a cruise ship looks like in a cyclone: Cruise Ship Social Media: Everyone Loves A Disaster Movie