Engine Failure Ends Silver Cloud's Cruise to Antarctica

Silver CloudThe failure of a fuel pump and engine left the Silver Cloud adrift as it headed toward Antarctica on November 20, 2017, according to the Telegraph newspaper in London.

Power was reportedly restored to the ship in about an hour, permitting the Silver Cloud to return to Puerto Madryn in southeast Argentina for repairs. However, the following day, Silversea concluded that the replacement fuel pump part would not be delivered in time for the ship to cruise to Antarctica.

The recently-refurbished ship was scheduled to call on the Falkland Islands, the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula on a 16 day expedition between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia. Rough weather had delayed the cruise, with the capital of the Falklands, Stanley, being omitted from the itinerary.

The article explains that that the 23 year-old Silver Cloud underwent extensive refitting, including a three month refit at a shipyard in Malta, to convert it for polar expedition voyages. The refurbishment of the ship into a ice-class luxury expedition vessel is discussed in Silversea Cruises ‘Silver Cloud’ Undergoing Massive Refurbishment by Brad Anderson.

The ill-fated maiden cruise to Antarctica cost the passengers around £12,000 (nearly $16,000) each. The newspaper reports that "Silversea will provide full refunds to all passengers, as well as organising and paying for flights back to Buenos Aires and on to guests’ airports of origin. It also offered overnight accommodation and expenses in Buenos Aires, a refund of outward air fares, and a discount on future bookings."

Luckily, the engine failure occurred in "relatively light seas. If the power failure occurred in the "infamously rough" Drake Passage to Antarctica, the outcome "might have been much more serious."

Clelia II We have written about near-disasters while cruising to Antarctica:

The Clelia II Skirts Disaster Again in Antarctica

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

Power failures to small "adventure" cruise ships present particular dangers to the cruise passengers and crew. The waters in the South Atlantic are treacherous. The Clelia II (photo right) caught the world's attention in December 2010 when it lost most of its power after a wave smashed windows and disabled its communications system and impaired its propulsion system while it was trying to return to Argentina from Antarctica. The video of the little expedition ship bouncing helplessly on high waves into howling winds is a must see. It made my list of the Top Five Worst Cruise Ship Disaster Videos.

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Ironically, CNN just published an article touting the bow-to-stern ice-class renovation of the Silver Cloud, costing $46.5 million, in How to turn a cruise ship into an Arctic luxury liner.

Photo credit: Top - Richard Sidey via gtspirit.com; bottom - Jonbowermaster.com.