Late yesterday afternoon, the Norwegian Escape encountered high winds and ran aground as the NCL cruise ship was departing Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Several videos showed the ship in Puerto Plata near the shore.

An NCL cruise passenger, the Disney Dude, was one of the first guests to report on the grounding and posted numerous photos of tugs which initially and unsuccesfully tried to free the ship.

Several pro-cruise bloggers inexplicably praised the master of the ship, for handling the situation, although the ship was under the control of a pilot at the time of the grounding. But some people commented on the photos and left comments rightfully criticizing the master, who remains responsible for the safe navigation of the vessel notwithstanding the involvement of the pilot. “No excuse for running aground in this day and age. Captain Giovanni will have to answer some very pointed questions.”

The NCL ship was finally freed by tugs late last night, and then returned to port in for an inspection of its hull.

Many cruise fan bloggers downplayed the incident. Cruise Radio, for example, stated “And while some seemed to think the situation was dire, (the NCL captain) assured us –  and those following his feed – that nothing could be further from the truth. ‘Everything is very calm,’ he said. ‘Life is normal other than the boat isn’t moving. All activities [are still] going on.'”

NCL stated that all cruise guests and passengers were uninjured and there was no damage to the ship itself. The grounding was initially described by some as the ship allegedly striking the “ocean’s sandy bottom.” But the issue remains whether damage was caused by the ship on surrounding reefs.

The cruise ship was on the second day of a seven night cruise, having departed from Port Canaveral on Saturday, March 12th. The ship was scheduled to call on  St. Thomas, Tortola and NCL’s “private island” in the Bahamas (Great Stirrup Cay), and then end its current cruise in Florida on March 19th.

NCL has been in the news lately. A passenger went overboard from the Norwegian Breakaway last week; his body had not been recovered. (There have been well over three hundred people who have gone overboard from a cruise ship in the last twenty years).  NCL also increased its daily service charges, making it the cruise line with the highest gratuities and the highest paid CEO (Frank Del Rio) in the cruise industry.

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Image credits: Top – Norwegian Escape – El Nuevo Diario / N Digital via El Snack Report; remaining photos – respective users on Twitter

March 15, 2022 Update: Master Mariner Bill Doherty left this comment on our Facebook page:

“The ‘Ultimate’ responsibility for the safe Navigation of ALL ships is the Master.
If weather were an issue, it would have been the Master’s decision to transit the channel or wait until the weather abated.
It’s nice to strut around in fancy dress uniforms, but the safety of the ship and more importantly the souls ( Passengers AND Crew) are the primary concern of the Master.
We have all learned , how deadly a grounding of a passenger ship can be, with the Costa Concordia tragedy and the loss of at least thirty-two souls.”

March 22, 2022 Update: Although NCL calls the damage “minor,” the Norwegian Escape  suffereed a ruptured hull, causing the company to cancel another cruise.

March 30, 20211 Update:

April 4, 2022 Update: