High Waves Rock Grandeur of the Seas

This week we have been asked questions about rough weather which apparently bounced Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas around. Today I ran across this video about a passenger;s experiences abord the Grandeur.

A Pennsylvania news station, WHTM ABC 27, reports that passenger Patti Hill Bocassini was ending her 10 day vacation aboard the Grandeur when rough weather struck as the ship was heading back to Baltimore. 

The passengers had enjoyed great weather but the cruise ship encountered 20 foot waves and high winds which the captain said were caused by the Nor'easter ahead of the ship. A "rogue" wave allegedly hit the Grandeur and caused some damage.

If you were on the ship and have information to share, please leave a comment or join the discussion on Facebook.

abc27 WHTM

Praising its Captain and Ship, Cruise & Maritime Voyages Quickly Returns the Deadly Marco Polo Back to Sea

Just two days ago, the news broke about a wave smashing windows out in the Waldorf Restaurant aboard the Marco Polo cruise ship killing one elderly passenger and injuring a dozen passengers and crew members. Passengers disembarking the 49 year-old former-Russian vessel this morning complained about the poor condition of the cruise ship.

The widow of the passenger who died when the windows exploded in said that the ship was "badly maintained." The Daily Echo quoted her saying that ''There's so much paint on the outside you can't see the rust, they just slop some more on when they get to port."

Marco Polo PassengersBut seemingly just as soon as the passengers had disembarked the old ship, the Marco Polo was already preparing to leave on its next scheduled cruise.

The cruise ship's operator, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), was quick to issue a corporate PR statement downplaying the incident. It characterized the wave as a "freak" incident, a designation which was contradicted by numerous passengers who characterized the worsening rough weather as an ongoing process requiring them to ride the ship "like a bucking bronco."

CMV described the damage to the vessel as involving only a "small section of Marco Polo’s Waldorf Restaurant," but it neglected to mention that the entire restaurant was flooded with 3 to 5 inches of water. Today, somehow the ship had already completed the "required reparation works," and the cruise ship had already "been cleared to sail by the authorities."

Just who are the "authorities" who gave the old ship a green light to again sail on the same day that it returned to port after the deadly cruise?  The ship is registered in Nassau, Bahamas which could care less about inspecting the ship and will never conduct an analysis of the casualty nor issue a report for public reading.

Other basic questions need to be asked.

How were the "required reparation works" conducted so quickly during such a short turn-around?  Was the ship, constructed back in 1964, completely inspected from bow to stern by qualified experts? Were independent marine surveyors permitted to inspect the damage before the scene was altered?  Was the dead man's family members provided an opportunity to hire their own experts to assess the cause and origin of window failures?

If this casualty involved a U.S. commercial aviation incident where the windows of a Delta jet blew out causing death and injuries to the passengers and crew, the airplane would be shut down indefinitely pending an exhaustive inspection and analysis by the stringent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the aircraft manufacturer, component vendor companies, maintenance companies and other companies. Even the FBI would be a part of the investigation.

But this incident involved the largely unregulated "anything-goes" world of foreign-flagged cruise ships where the ships never stop and the cruise operator PR people are left to praise themselves rather than scrutinize what went wrong. 

CMV has already claimed that the wave was a "freak" which in legal terms means its was allegedly "unforeseeable" which CMV's lawyers will contend. The weather broadcasts, wind and sea forecasts, and nautical charts showing wind speed and wave heights are of no consequence it seems. The cruise operator has already settled on its defense strategy. The Marco Polo is already heading out to sea again.

CMV already boasts that its ship is allegedly in compliance with "strict" international maritime "requirements" (the International Maritime Organization has no authority to even enforce its own recommendations).  Remarkably, the cruise line praises its captain and officers who sailed into harm's way while inviting the elderly guests to sit like ducks next to the windows as the giant waves Marco Polo BBCcrashed upon the ship. 

Instead of such cheerleading and gushing praise, a criminal investigation should be initiated into whether manslaughter charges should be leveled against the captain, the navigational officers and the senior managers who permitted the passengers to sit precariously close to the restaurant windows under such dangerous circumstances.

The ship never should have been permitted to take new passengers aboard today. It should have been detained. The Marco Polo should be immediately returned to port and undergo a thorough and complete survey before it leaves port again anytime soon. 

February 18 2014 Update: A newspaper in the U.K. contains an interview of a couple of the cruise who "do not believe that the ordeal was the result of a freak wave but that of gale-force wind and said that there was an incident even on the first night of the 42-night cruise." A window blew in earlier.  A reader left this comment to the story:

We were on the ship too, in the restaurant and also found out that the man who died was our shipboard next door neighbour. I too take issue with the word 'freak' allowing commentators to write off the incident as tragic but one of those things. Others were seriously injured that day. If it was a freak wave it was one of a series . . . 
 

 

Photo Credits:

Marco Polo Passengers - BBC News

Marco Polo: BBC News / Martin Dalton

1 Dead, 12 Injured: Pandemonium After Wave Breaks Window & Floods Cruise Ship Restaurant

Marco Polo ITV NewsMore details are coming in about yesterday's deadly incident where a large wave crashed through a window on the Marco Polo cruise ship.

As we mentioned in our article yesterday, a 85 year old man and a woman in her 70s were airlifted from the ship. The man later died due to his injuries. 

A cruise passenger gave the following account to the U.K.'s Channel 4 News:

"We were sitting at a table in the Marco Polo's Waldorf restaurant, located on deck six of the cruise ship. The table was on the starboard side. Lunch was just being served and most people were waiting for their orders.

The seas, visible through the windows, were very rough. Waves were peaking nearly parallel to the windows. Furniture in the restaurant was beginning to shift, so people were holding on to tables and chairs.

Suddenly there was a very loud 'bang' and the daylight in the room reduced as a wall of seawater covered most of the starboard windows. The bang was the breaching of a forward window in the restaurant."

On leaving the restaurant, I went up three decks to my cabin, when another large wave hit the ship and I was thrown across a connecting passageway and ended up in a bundle against a wall.

I was rescued by fellow passengers who called the ships doctors and crew. I was stretchered to the sick bay four decks below with a cut head and extensive bruising."

ABC News aired the video here: 

 

Another account stated that sea water rushed through the broken windows and flooded the restaurant to a depth of about three to five inches.

In all 12 passengers and crew members sustained injuries.

There is no indication in any of these articles that the captain has issued warning to the passengers. The cruise line is playing the "freak wave" a/k/a the "rogue wave" defense, suggesting that the wave was unforeseeable. That's hardly true. Storms like this create cyclical patterns of waves where one out of one hundred waves or so is of a substantially large size and velocity. The vessel's officer and senior officers should not permit passengers, particularly elderly guests, into public areas with large windows which can be breached.

Other cruise ships encountering rough weather have experienced smashed windows which killed and seriously injured passengers. 

The Channel 4 video is below:

 

 

Photo Credit: Marco Polo -  ITV News

Rough Weather Kills Cruise Passenger

CNN reports that a British cruise passenger was killed during rough weather which struck a ship sailing into the English Channel.

The death occurred aboard the Marco Polo cruise ship.

The cruise line tried to characterize the death as a result of a freak accident. The incident was described as a result of a "freak wave" according to a statement released Friday by the ship's owner, Cruise & Maritime Voyages. It is quite common for cruise operators to say that a "freak wave" was the problem, rather than admitting that the sea conditions were foreseeable and that the captain and officers failed to Marco Polo Cruise Shipwarn the passengers of the dangers inherent in the adverse sea conditions. 

There was nothing "freaky" about the waves. The U.K. is being racked by severe weather which includes driving rain and gale-force winds.

One of the most popular videos we have ever posted is that of a wave smashing through a window and causing death and destruction. You can see that video here on our YouTube channel.  It has been watched around 1,500,000 times: "Wave Hits Louis Majesty Cruise Ship." 

CNN says that "one elderly passenger has died and a further passenger has been airlifted for further shore-side medical assistance."

BBC News says that "water crashed through a window injuring several passengers. An 85-year-old man and a woman in her 70s were airlifted off the ship but the man later died."

The ship was sailing from the Azores to its home port in Tilbury, England and was carrying 735 passengers and 349 crew members.

February 15 2014 Update1 Dead, 12 Injured: Pandemonium After Wave Breaks Window & Floods Cruise Ship Restaurant.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Luca Riva 

Rough Weather Rocks Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas

Splendor of the Seas - Rough WeatherTwo weeks ago, a storm hit Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas, breaking plates, bottles and glasses and causing concern among the passengers.

According to the Brazilian newspaper Diário Catarinense on the night of January 23rd, passengers who were aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship reported "moments of panic and tension" after a the ship faced a storm between Argentina and Uruguay.

The newspaper says that the cruise ship tilted 7 to 10 degrees, permitting water to enter parts of the ship.

The captain of the cruise ship had warned the passengers earlier in the afternoon that the ship would be encountering rough weather.

Nonetheless, the events that evening surprised and frightened many passengers.

"Many people shouted that the ship would sink, and all were going to die," said one passenger. Others screamed and some laughed nervously about the effects of the storm on the ship.  Watch the videos below.

 

  

 

Photo and Video Credit: Diario Catarinense 

Video: Rough Weather Strikes Carnival Cruise Ship

A former employee of Carnival Cruise Lines sent us two short videos of rough weather striking an unidentified cruise ship.

The first video is from the bridge camera and shows waves striking over the bow.

The second and more dramatic video shows water smashing through a window and engulfing the interior of the cruise ship with water.

The videos both show a date of November 5 2011.  I'll post additional information as it becomes available. 

November 2 2013 Update: Several readers indicate that this was the Carnival Pride. If you have other info, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.  Thanks! 

November 3 2013 Update: Check out the video of the fire which broke out in the children's area (Circle C) on the cruise ship.

 

 

  

Ruby Princess Breaks Mooring Lines in Kusadasi

This morning a reader of Cruise Law News sent us photos of the Ruby Princess which broke its mooring lines due to high winds in Kusadasi, Turkey. It drifted out of its berth. Later a tug near the stern of the ship kept it from drifting further from the dock.  

One of the photos is posted below. You can see a couple of other photos on our Facebook page under the title High Winds in Kusadasi.

There is also a video of the incident on YouTube which is posted below.  

You can see a broken gangway dangling from the side of the ship.  

Thanks to our readers in sending us this information. 

Ruby Princess in Kusadasi - Rough Weather  

NCL Breakaway Breaks Apart During Rough Weather

NCL Breakaway Cruise ShipMultiple news sources are reporting that just weeks after its debut, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) newest ship, Breakaway, sustained damage from rough weather conditions.

The Cruise Critic website reports that the NCL Breakaway was returning to New York from Bermuda when it encountered winds exceeding 50 knots. Balcony dividers became dislodged. 

A Cruise Critic member, joeski27, complained that the balcony came apart with loose bolts and broken welds. "There were panels, metal segments, bolts and debris everywhere, and I can only imagine the similar damage elsewhere on the decks." 

Comments to the Cruise Critic site complained of poor design of the exterior of the ship.

If you have comments or photos of the cruise ship damage, please leave a comment below.

Photo Image: Wikimedia / Dickelbers

"Sweet Caroline" - Be Strong Boston!

Another Close Call in Antarctica: Silver Explorer Damaged By Large Wave

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 Cruise Ship - Silver Explorerstated 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:

The Clelia II - Another Antarctic Cruise Ship Skirts Disaster 

Clipper Adventurer Cruise Ship Runs Aground in the Arctic

The Clelia II Skirts Disaster Again in Antarctica

Another Near Disaster in Antarctica: Polar Star Runs Aground

M/V Plancius Adventure Cruise Ship Stranded in South Atlantic

Who's Responsible When a Cruise Ship Sinks in Antarctica?

Were you on the Silver Explorer and have info, photos or video to share?  Please let us hear from you. 

High Winds Damage French Ferry Napoleon Bonaparte

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.

Napoleon Bonaparte - Passenger Ferry

Photo credit: EPA via Daily Mail

Hurricane Sandy Fallout: Tennessee Family Wants Apology From Disney Cruise Line

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 HMS Bounty Sunk, Nothing Left But Bickering

HMS Bounty - Hurricane SandyWith 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.  

HMS Bounty - Hurricane SandyHere'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

Hurricane Sandy Causes Cruise Ships to Scatter

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: 

 

 

Hurricane Sandy Sinks HMS Bounty - 14 Rescued, 2 Missing at Sea

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 HMS Bounty - Sank - Hurricane SandyCarolina, 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.

 

iReport: Hurricane Sandy Hammers Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship

CNN's iReport has a story and video of the effect of Hurricane Sandy on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.

 

Rough Weather Lawsuit: A Lynch Mob Forms at USA TODAY's CruiseLog

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 Athena Cruise Ship - Storm - Lawsuitthere 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

Fire & Rough Weather Mar Queen Mary 2 Cruise

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 Queen Mary 2 - QM2 - Fire - Rough Seascruise 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)   

Top Five Worst Cruise Ship Disaster Videos

Oceanos Cruise Ship Sinking - Five Worst Cruise Ship Disasters 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 passengers 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 . . .

Ferocious Storm Batters Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas

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 Clelia II Skirts Disaster Again in Antarctica

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:

Who's Responsible When a Cruise Ship Sinks in Antarctica?

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)

Pacific Sun CCTV Rough Weather Video - You Have To See It To Believe It!

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 marine accident report for this incident can be viewed here.  A travel website summarized the pertinent findings of the report as follows:

  • 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