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.
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.
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.
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).
Maritime & admiralty lawyer & attorney James M. Walker of Walker & O'Neill Law Firm, offering services related to injuries, sexual assaults, fires, negligence, rapes & disappearances on cruise ships, pirate & terrorist attacks, missing passengers, shore excursions, wrongful death and the Jones Act, serving cruise passengers, crew members, cabin attendants, utility workers, waiters, bar tenders, ship doctors and cleaners on cruise ships worldwide.
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