Fire Breaks Out on MS Nordnorge

A fire reportedly erupted in the engine room of the cruise ship MS Nordnorge yesterday (June 29th) when the vessel was docked at Trondheim, Norway, according to the Maritime Bulletin.

Crew members and city firefighters extinguished the fire. Three crew members were reportedly treated for smoke inhalation. The Nordnorge is a "ro-ro" ship (roll on - roll off type of cruise-ferry). The vessel reportedly did not sustain serious damages and departed from the port at Trondheim yesterday afternoon.

The Nordnorge was built in 1997, flies the flag of Norway, and is operated by Hurtigruten AS.

Credit: Clemensfranz - CC BY 2.5, commons / wikimedia.Nordnorge by Clemensfranz - CC BY 2.5, commons / wikimedia.

Horizon Runs Aground in Norway

The Horizon cruise ship ran aground today in Stavanger, Norway.  The Stavanager Aftonblad newspaper reports that the cruise ship became stuck after sailing into the sandbanks near the Norwegian port. Tugs were sent to the scene and and pushed the ship safely into the dock.

The Horizon is owned by Croisieres de France, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean. 

Photo Credit: Anders Heskja Sandvik via Stavanger Aftenblad.

Horizon

Marco Polo Cruise Ship Runs Aground in Norway Again

The Marco Polo cruise ship is back in the news after it ran aground while trying to dock at a pier in Norway.  It previously ran aground in March 2013 in Norway. News accounts estimate that somewhere between 750 and 1,000 passengers were aboard. 

The AP says that maritime rescue services are hoping to pull the cruise ship free at high tide later today, after tugboats and a coast guard vessel failed to push it free. 

The ship is chartered by U.K. based Cruise & Maritime Voyages.

Marco Polo was last in the news in February of this year when it proceeded to sail in extremely rough weather.  A wave crashed through a window in the vessel's dining room and killed a passenger.  

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Photo Credit: AP

Marco Polo

Independence of the Seas Arrested in Norway

A newspaper in Norway reports today that a pilot association seized the Independence of the Seas for non-payment of the association's fees. The association petitioned a court in Norway to detain the cruise ship. A local bailiff served the arrest papers today.

The Independence of the Seas was in Alesund, Norway at the time of the legal action.

In the U.S., vessels can be seized for non-payment of provisions and services such as pilotage fees, crew member wages, food and fuel. The vendors and service providers have a maritime lien for the goods and services. Norway has a similar legal provision permitting the courts to "arrest" a vessel when Independence of the Seasit refuses to meet its financial obligations to creditors and satisfy the maritime lien. If the lien is not satisfied, the vessel can be sold at auction.  

"Vessel arrest" is a  common legal remedy to collect money from fly-by-night maritime owners and operators which try to avoid paying their debts to third parties. You can read about one such case here. I have heard of only one modern cruise ship operated by a top cruise line being arrested, and that was the Carnival Triumph several years ago

In Norway, as well as many other countries, local pilots are required to be at the helm of a ship that enters the local waters of the country. The shipping companies are required to pay the pilots who are more familiar with the local waters. 

The pilot association, Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) (Kystverket in Norwegian), issued a press release, stating that the pilot and security fees incurred by Royal Caribbean during several cruises last year have been owed since at least last October.  

The newspaper says that the lien was for  around NOK 600,000 which is approximately $100,000 U.S.

NCA says that it is owed substantial other fees from other cruise line and will be stepping up its collection efforts as the cruise ships return to Norway.

NCA says in its press release that non-payment or delayed payment from some cruise lines have been a major problem and the the association has been unable to convince the cruise lines to pay punctually. The association has been unable to convince certain companies with the worst payment history to meet their obligations voluntarily.

A representative of the association was quoted saying that sometimes it's been many months, up to a year before the outstanding amounts have been paid. How can we operate?

The newspaper further states that once the arrest papers were served on the cruise ship, the captain contacted Royal Caribbean which paid the lien (as well as court costs and interest) within one hour. The cruise ship was then released by the local marshal and was free to sail. 

The Independence of the Seas was last in the news in April when its thrusters swamped a boat in St.Kitts involved in mooring operations, killing two local men handling the lines. 

May 23 2014 Update: The BBC is now covering the story.

Cruise Deja Vu - Third Cruise Ship Stikes Rock in One Week!

Marco Polo Cruise ShipI thought that I was experiencing deja vu while reading accounts that a cruise ship struck underwater rocks in a Norwegian fjord yesterday, resulting in damage to the ship's hull.

The Marco Polo, operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages, was sailing from Sortland, Norway, when the incident occurred. 

A week ago we reported on a similar grounding which occurred when Hurtigruten's Kong Harald struck a submerged rock and took on water in another fjord in Norway.

On the same day, Lindblad Expedition's National Geographic Sea Lion ran aground near Panama.

Regarding the latest grounding, Cruise Critic is saying that the rock which the Marco Polo hit was "uncharted." This was what Captain Schettino claimed after he rammed the Concordia into rocks off of the coast of Giglio.

You can read another story about cruise ship operators using the "uncharted rock" excuse: "Uncharted Rocks" and Other Tall Tales - Clipper Adventurer Ran Into A Charted Hazard

More Problems for the Problem Prone Saga Sapphire - It's a Smoker!

A Cruise Law News reader has alerted us to a major engine problem for the Saga Sapphire cruise ship which has broken down during a cruise through Norway.  A passenger aboard the stricken cruise ship writes:

"The Saga Sapphire is currently struck with motor-problems again - this time whilst on a Norwegian Cruise - and has been unable to leave Trömso Fjord for the last two days. Efforts to repair the ship succeeded - after a further 4 miles the ship has broken down again."

Newspaper accounts in Norway corroborate the passenger's account.

Nordlys newspaper in Norway confirms that the cruise ship's generators failed and repairs were Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship - Engine Failure - Norwayattempted in Trömso, without success.

You can see, from a photograph from the Norwegian newspaper, the Saga Sapphire smoking heavily. Something's definitely not right with this ship.

The Norwegian newspaper contains a rather humorous account of the situation where several of the 600 passengers asked the cruise ship's agent about the heavy diesel smoke pouring from the ship's engines and wondered: is it was normal to have such large emissions? The agent said "no it's not the worst thing I have ever seen."  To which a passenger responded, "what is the worst thing you've seen?"

Of course, the situation is not humorous to the passengers who paid for a nice vacation cruise.  They have been sailing part of the time in a tender vessel. 

The cruise ship's captain has a blog  - called the Saga Sapphire Captain's Blog - which has remained silent for the past 5 days.  A lesson for any cruise line:  If you have a cruise ship blog, be sure to write about the good times and the bad times in an equally transparent manner.  Otherwise, it makes matters worse.  It appears that you are covering things up.  (please note that Captain Philip Rentell has since updated his blog, and seems to have a good nature approach in his assessment of the delays).

The last entry from the Captain in the ship's blog five days ago mentions "even worse weather, high winds, driving rain and temperature forecast to feel like only 1 degree Celsius."  Yikes.  I don't want to be on a cruise ship in crappy weather with crappy generators.  That may take the situation from not funny to dangerous.

This is not the first time that the Saga Sapphire has encountered engine problems.

In April, we reported on problems during its maiden voyage which was cut short due to the failure of one of its engines.  

As you can see in the video below, the Saga Sapphire was smoking heavily two months ago, during its maiden voyage.

Hopefully the cruise ship can get the generators running.  But if so, it looks like a smokey cruise. Gas masks anyone? 

 

 

June 30, 2012 Update:  As you can see from the comments below, some of the passengers are upset with the botched cruise, the general condition and state of affair of the Saga Sapphire and the compensation offered by the cruise line.  One passenger sent me the photograph below of the cruise ship leaving Tromso - I'm not sure I have ever seen any ship smoking like this! 

Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship Smoking

August 10, 2012 Update: The Telegraph in the U.K. has an article today Saga Reassures Customers Over Newest Vessel.  Not much substance to the article but this is what the company is saying. 

 

Photo credits

Top:  Northern Lights-tipping via Nordlys

Bottom: Saga Sapphire cruise passenger

Cruise Ship Fire in Norway Kills Two

The Associated Press is reporting that a fire on the M/S Nordlys cruise ship this morning killed two people and injured at least nine others while operating on a popular route along Norway's coast. 

The AP reports that nine people were taken to the hospital, two with serious burns and smoke injuries.  Eight of those injured and sent to the hospital were crew members.  Mail Online reports that 16 people were injured and two additional people (probably crewmembers) are missing.

The fire broke out in the engine room.   

The Nordlys, operated by Hurtigruten, reportedly had over 200 passengers on board at the time of the fire.  100 passengers were evacuated by lifeboats before the cruise ship reached port in Alesund, which is 230 miles northwest of Oslo.  The cruise ship was then escorted into port where the remainder of the passengers were evacuated.

The cruise line has an information link on its website which can be viewed here.  The only information posted is as follows:

"Following a fire on board the MS Nordlys all guests have been safely evacuated to the Rica Parken Hotel in Ålesund. There were 207 guests on board of varying nationalities and 55 crew.  Relatives hotline: +47 47 83 47 00."

If this information is correct, all of the injuries and deaths involved crewmembers.

Cruise ship fires are not as uncommon as you may think.  Take a moment and read Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

The last engine room fire on a cruise ship occurred last year on the Carnival Splendor, resulting the stranding of over 3,000 passengers and over 1,000 crewmembers.

Last year, an engine room fire caused the evacuation of over 600 passengers and crew in Norwegian waters. That incident involved the German cruise ship Deutschland.

After the Nordlys reached port the ship continued to burn, as show in the video below.  

 

 

Video credit: TV2 Norway via CNN