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. You can read about this cruise ship here. 

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 . . .

  • Steven Scott

    Video #5 is the cruise ship Voyager off the coast of Majorca in 2005.

  • Mary

    #5 is Voyager…here is more information Mr Walker:


    “Loss of engine control then was the main problem as Voyager was helpless literally a bobbing cork on the water.”

  • Magnus

    I like your blog and the work you’re doing but how come the M/S Estonia catastrophy didnt make it in to this top 5 list?

  • nicki moffatt

    if anyone goes on a cruise ship after seeing these videos they are completly nuts !!!!

  • Janet spaun

    These are so scary…cured me of any desire to cruise. I remember the Oceanos saga very well….they were very lucky passengers thanks to very brave non cruise line people, but it was definitely a rust bucket, shouldn’t have been allowed on the waters.

  • Carrie Anderson

    I believe that every passenger should have a tracking device on them when they are on the ship. So when some kind of disaster happens the person or people can be located in a emergency.

  • Toniann

    These videos are possibly the most terrifying ones I have ever seen. Just goes to show you how mysterious the ocean is. I like cruising and have never had a bad experience but this is enough to make anyone second guess themselves when booking one. Yikes!

  • Terry

    The number one video brought tears to my eyes when I realized how good, us humans, can be to each other. The entertainers were selfless as they went about ensuring everyone’s safety. Humanity at its finest!!!

    On another note, not to mitigate the lives that have been lost on Cruise ships, but for every Cruise liner that has hit tragedy, so much more have returned safely to Port. Basing your decision to not Cruise on these 5 videos is a bit ignorant, if I may say so, without being rude. How many car accidents happen daily, will you not drive anymore? Airplane crashes, will you not fly anymore? How many people joke to death while eating, will you not eat anymore?

    Don’t live in fear, go out and have fun, enjoy your life knowing that no matter what activity you engage in, it could very well be your last, people even die in their sleep.

  • Peter Frinton

    The #5 ‘What stabilizers?” video is of the MV Explorer. In 2005, chartered for a ‘Semester at Sea’ (by Virginia State U), hit very bad weather in the Northern Pacific while enroute to Pusan Korea from Vancouver. they limped into Honolulu after losing, then regaining use of generators and one engine, I think. See:


    They continue to operate the program, on the same ship:


    It was extraordinarily reckless to head into the Gulf of Alaska in January against prevailing westerly winds. A southern route, while longer, is considerably safer, and utilized by many commercial ships in the winter.

    BTW- I am a travel agent specializing in small ship cruising, and I ALWAYS stress to clients the inherent dangers in travel, and the need for care and precautions. That said, I do send people to Antarctica (have gone myself) and other remote places. People are willing to take risks; the important thing is that they be informed and reasonable risks.

    I get outraged by orchestrated deceptions and coverups, and am pleased you are such a strong voice in turning over stones that Cruise Lines would much prefer are left in place

  • Rui Fernandes

    It is the Grand Voyager – Iberojet cruises.
    Ship was on his way to Barcelona, when is was caught in the middle of the storm.
    I was a crew member on board that vessel when it happen.
    several crew members were injured as welll some of the guests on board.

  • Great, where do I book a cabin!

  • Trevor Musso

    We are leaving in three weeks on trip to southern Caribbean. I hope ican get over this sick feeling After watching these videos. What happened to the captain and crew of the Oceanos?

  • It is the Grand Voyager -Passenger.
    Ship was on his way to excravos, when she was caught in the middle of the storm.
    fellow was a crew member on board that vessel when it happen.
    several crew members were injured as welll some of the guests on board.If safety be put in high measures, incident aboard will minimized.

  • Veronica

    Oh, good selection of videos!… I work on a cruise ship, not so long, and weather stuff happend. We usually use the video of OCEANOS on safety meetings.

  • geethanjali

    thanks for rescuing people

  • Where is captain Schettino?

  • glen wilson

    great footage ,,, excellent viewing ,
    job well done


  • Rod Mann

    The #5 What stabilizers? is NOT the MV Explorer.

    It is the Spanish cruise ship Voyager that was caught in cyclone Valentina.


  • Derek Stocker

    Watching these videos and others similar, what will the new cruise “blocks of flats” be like when one of these seas gets a hold of it.

    Their design goes against all the laws of shipbuilding making them so top heavy that it will only be a matter of time before there is a disaster of a huge magnitude when one of these leviathans turns turtle.

  • Bill Bligh

    Cruise ships are inherently unstable due their design features meant minimize the speed at which they roll. In addition, they’re disgustingly ugly and no real sailor would go to sea on one for pleasure.

  • Hi

    Glad to see the Oceanos made it to the No. 1 spot. I was a passenger aboard her at the time she sank along with my wife, 4 year old son and 3 month old daughter. You can see my blog here http://oceanossinking-myexperience.blogspot.co.uk/

    I hope you enjoy it.



  • scott

    would somebody care to explain how a cyclone named valentina affected the cruise ship Voyager, i didn’t know that tropical systems even formed in the mediterranean. maybe this ship has had a couple of run ins with hurricanes???
    also where is the video of the Statendam sinking in the pacific off of british columbia in what i believe was the early 1980s, if memory serves me correctly?

  • scott

    i just posted a comment but it has not been “moderated” just yet…. the Holland American ship i was refferring to was the Prinsendam off the coast of alaska in 1980. after checking out the Statendam’s history, i see that there have been some close calls on that ship too.

  • Mark

    The Voyager ship was not caught in a tropical cyclone Valentina. I believe that cyclone of that name did not happen in 2005. The vessel was caught by a winter storm in the Med that was locally named Valentina. This does not make the waves any smaller…