Cruise Ships Collide Off the Coast of Mexico

Greg Land, twitpic

The Tampa, Florida-based website, reported on Monday, October 5th that some cruise ship passengers were "happy to be back in Florida after their ship collided with another one off the coast of Mexico."

The USA Today's Cruise Log Blog was the first to report the collision of a Carnival cruise ship departing the port at Cozumel, Mexico with a Royal Caribbean ship on Wednesday, September 30th. No one reported any injuries from the incident, but both vessels sustained minor damage, USA Today reported.

One cruise ship passenger described the experience in his blog:

"As we're watching it [the other ship], it's getting closer and closer. It looked like the wind was pushing the other ship toward us. I looked down and saw a tug boat try to get between the two boats, but it was too late. Then the collision became inevitable. There was some crunching and breaking glass noises and the ship rocked to one side a little. It was such a slow crash that it was barely noticeable."

Greg Land, a passenger on the Royal Caribbean, was quoted in USA Today saying that the Carnival Legend then side-swiped the Enchantment, with the two ships scraping each other's sides over about a 50 yard stretch.

Credit: Greg Land, twitpic

According to USA Today, the 2,124-passenger Carnival Legend had just cast off from the Cozumel pier before heavy winds pushed the ship into Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas.

Spokespeople for Carnival and Royal Caribbean told USA TODAY late Wednesday the damage to the ships was minor, but Land says the Carnival Legend was left with some significant scars.

"The side of the Legend was dented badly, and the glass railings on the (Legend's) promenade deck were shattered with broken glass everywhere," he says.

"Immediately, crew members on both ships were called into their emergency positions and passengers ran up on deck to see what had bumped and rattled the two ships so badly," Land says.

Here is one passenger's video of the crash:

Pictures of vessel's damage were also quickly posted by a passenger on board the via Twitter and can be found here and here.
After an inspection from Mexican authorities, both ships proceeded on their respective itineraries by sailing to Belize, according to the USA Today. A September 20th blog post on on Cruise Critic reports itinerary changes were not made for the Carnival Legend because the repairs could be done while the ship is at sea. USA Today reports the Carnival Legend was sailing out of Tampa, Florida on a seven-night cruise and the Enchantment was cruising for five-nights out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

While collisions between two cruise ships are rare, similar incidents at sea are not completely uncommon. According to cruise industry watchdog, over 20 disabling incidents have been reported aboard passenger vessels in 2009, including the June 18th fire that broke out in the engine room of Princess Cruise's Royal Princess near Port Said, Egypt. According to Cruise Log Blog, the fire prompted passengers to their muster stations. Cruise Critic reports there were no injuries on board Royal Princess, which was on a 12-day Mediterranean cruise from Rome to Athens.

According to a July 30th 2008 report by the Athens News Agency and Cruise Critic, The Zenith, a ship operated by the Spanish cruise line Pullmantur, collided into the stern of The Aegean Pearl in the port of Piraeus near Athens Greece, sustaining minor damage. There were 1,819 passengers on board the Zenith at the time of the accident and no injuries were immediately reported, according to the Athens News Agency. Likewise when the Norwegian Dream collided with a barge being pulled by a tugboat in the port of Montevideo, Uruguay in December 2007, according to a December 10, 2007 report by Reuters. The same vessel had been previously damaged from a collision in 1999 after smashing into a 52,000-ton cargo ship in the English Channel, as reported by the BBC on August 24th, 1999. According to the BBC, the 1999 crash caused a fire aboard the container ship and forced 20 passengers to receive minor medical treatment.

Additional cruise ship mishaps include close encounters with stationary objects, such as piers when docking. In May 2008, Cunard's Queen Victoria hit the quay while berthing in Malta after suffering from an alleged throttle failure, according to a May 14th 2008 report in the Times of Malta. On May 26 2008, the New York Postreported a similarly incident at the New York City Cruise terminal when the 77,000-ton Norwegian Spirit crashed in Pier 88 on the Hudson River, causing bent railings and visible scars to the ship.

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