Swiss CrystalThe M/S Swiss Crystal river cruise ship collided with a highway bridge on the Rhine river near Duisburg, Germany last night.

The river cruise ship is operated by the Swiss shipping company, SCYLLA AG, which operates several dozen ships on the waterways of Europe.

Press Online reported that nearly 30 people were injured in the accident. The injury tally was reduced to 25 people injured as of this morning, with five sustaining serious injuries. Most of the passengers were reportedly Dutch. 

The 129 people were aboard the vessel, called a "hotel ship," which was traveling towards the Netherlands at the time of the incident. There were 103 guests and 26 crew members on the ship at Swiss Crystalthe time of the accident. There is no indication regarding the break down of those injured. 

About a hour later, another Scylla passenger ship reportedly came to the aid of the Swiss Crystal and took the crew members 103 passengers on board.  The passengers had the opportunity to continue the cruise or stay in hotels reportedly provided by the cruise company. 

European river cruises obviously do not have the same capacity as the larger oceangoing cruise ships, but they are not immune from hitting bridges, noro virus outbreaksfires, and more fires

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Photo credit M/S Swiss Crystal – Scylla (bottom); Press Online (top); Getty Imges BBC News.

Swiss Crystal

Viking FreyaA number of German newspapers are reporting that the Viking Freya struck a rail bridge, last night, crushing the wheelhouse and killing two officers who were navigating the ship. The ship came to rest under the rail bridge and a pedestrian bridge which paralleled the rail bridge.

The river cruise ship had just left the town of Erlangen on its way to the Hungarian capital of Budapest, and was operating on the main Danube Canal at night when the accident occurred. The accident reportedly occurred at 1:30 A.M.

The dead officers were a 49-year-old who was at the helm of the vessel and a 33-year-old man. 

Photographs taken after the accident show that the wheelhouse was completely obliterated in the impact with the bridge.

The Blick ama Abend newspaper indicates that that the two crew members who were killed were Hungarians. The ship is operated by Viking River Cruises AG.

The wheelhouse can be lowered when the Viking Freya encounters low bridges, as seen in this YouTube video, and then raised after it goes under the bridge.

There were reportedly 181 passengers and 47 other crew members on the ship at the time. No other injuries or casualties were reported.

Photo credits: Top © Nicolas Armer/dpa via Stern; Bottom UPI via Blick am a Bend.

Viking Freya

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is about to release its study into whether to raise the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in order to accommodate the newer huge cruise ships which can’t fit under the bridge.  

A Tampa news station reports on the issue in a story entitled "Mega Cruise Ships Present Mega Problems for Tampa." The station says that "officials could do nothing, replace the bridge, build a drawbridge on one side or build a new cruise terminal near the Hillsborough/Pinellas line to avoid it all together."

The FDOT is spending over $150,000 of taxpayer money to determine whether it is feasible to raise Skyway Bridge the bridge. The FDOT is also studying whether new cruise ship terminals should be constructed to avoid the the bridge. 

The Skyway bridge was re-designed after a cargo carrier slammed into it in 1980, toppling a span and killing 35 motorists. It was raised when it was re-built and can still accommodate most cruise ships today. It’s a beautiful design, beautifully landscaped, and in outstanding condition.

Raising the bridge again would certainly take a couple of years. It would result in stopping all traffic on the bridge or detouring all traffic to one span. This would be a major hassle for commuters crossing from Bradenton to St. Petersburg or from St. Pete to Bradenton. Why should the residents of South Pinellas or North Manatee County be inconvenienced to accommodate a cruise terminal in Hillsborough county?

Plus, the project would likely cost over $500,000,000 and as much as $1,000,000,000 (billion). Spending that much money in hope of attracting more passengers from a gigantic ship is a foolhardy adventure especially considering that cities like Mobile, Houston and Norfolk spent tens of millions building new cruise terminals for the cruise lines which left them high and dry.

Last year, the Bradenton Herald reported that bridges "have been raised to accommodate ships in the past, but it is a costly and time-consuming process." The newspaper cites the Bayonne Bridge in New York which has been in the slow process of being raised for the past several years at a cost of over $740,000,000.

I have discussed this issue before. One reader of our Cruise Law News Facebook page said: 

"How about building ships that are appropriately sized to fit ports (and destinations) rather than the push for ever bigger ships, demanding bigger, new and different infrastructure (costs pushed off onto port communities to extent possible). Wouldn’t it be grand if all the best ports simply united and said no. This is the maximum we are built for."

You can see the Skyway bridge in a photo (above) I took last year from my father-in-law’s dock.

I say leave the bridge the hell alone.

July 3 2014 Update: The Bradenton Herald says that the cost of replacing the bridge would be $2,000,000,000 (billion).  Given the cruise industry’s track record over the years, there is no way that cruise lines like Carnival or Royal Caribbean would pay a dime of it.

 

FOX 13 News

Sunshine Skyway BridgeI could not believe my eyes when I read the headline in the Bradenton Herald this morning: “Raising Sunshine Skyway Bridge Could Accommodate Jumbo Cruise Ships.”

Is this some type of April Fools joke?

Apparently not. The newspaper reports that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is studying whether to raise the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in order to accommodate the newer cruise ships which can’t fit under the bridge.

The FDOT is spending over $150,000 of taxpayer money to determine whether it is feasible to raise the bridge. The FDOT is also studying whether new cruise ship terminals should be constructed west of the bridge, either in St. Petersbug or Bradenton.

A FDOT spokesperson told the Bradenton Herald: “Given the economic impact from the cruise business on the region, the FDOT wants to look into possibilities for mitigating possible future negative impacts on the loss of this cruise business in the region, including whether constructing a new terminal outside of the Skyway Bridge, or perhaps even raising the bridge, should be considered.”

Of course, the FDOT also has an obligation to Florida taxpayers not to waste their money in considering silly, hair-brain ideas like this.

The Skyway bridge was re-designed after a cargo carrier slammed into it in 1980, toppling a span and killing 35 motorists. It was raised when it was re-built and can still accommodate most cruise ships today. It’s a beautiful design, beautifully landscaped, and in outstanding condition.

Raising the bridge again would probably take a couple of years. It would result in stopping all traffic on the bridge or detouring all traffic to one span.  This would be a major hassle for commuters crossing from Bradenton to St. Petesburg or from St. Pete to Bradenton.  Why should the residents of South Pinellas or North Manatee County be inconvenienced to accommodate a cruise terminal in Hillsborough county?

Plus, the project would likely cost over $500,000,000 and as much as $1,000,000,000 (billion). Spending that much money in hope of attracting more passengers from a gigantic ship is a foolhardy adventure especially considering that cities like Mobile, Houston and Norfolk spent tens of millions building new cruise terminals for the cruise lines which left them high and dry.

The newspaper says that bridges “have been raised to accommodate ships in the past, but it is a costly and time-consuming process.” The newspaper cites the Bayonne Bridge in New York which has been in the slow process of being raised for the past several years at a cost of over $740,000,000.

You can see the Skyway bridge in photos I took last year.

I say leave it the hell alone.

 

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Photo Credit: Jim Walker  /  Original story credit: Sara Kennedy, Bradenton Herald reporter, follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Chinese Cruise Ship Strikes BridgeAnd here’s some weird cruise news from China.

A new cruise ship under tow in China struck a passenger bridge in eastern China, causing damage to the vessel’s funnels.    

According to the Xinhua News agency, the bizarre incident involved a newly constructed cruise ship, called the No. 7 Mingzhu Pearl cruise ship.

Four tugboats were towing the cruise ship on the Ou Jiang river when the ship struck a bridge in the city of Wenzhou in the eastern province of China called Zhejiang.  

There were no casualties reported.

There is a suggestion that the height of the vessel’s structure was miscalculated because there were no passengers or cargo or provisions on the vessel when it was under tow.    

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=4GEKiC28lqc%3Frel%3D0

 

Photo credit: Sina.com

Video credit: ITN News