When we first board a cruise ship, many passengers hope to have the time of their lives. Passengers are treated with a beautiful view of the ocean and islands that most have not witnessed before. Taking a cruise ship is promoted as a week of paradise where all your accommodations are taken care of. We’re told that the trip is going to be something we’re never going to forget. In some cases, passengers remember the trip for the wrong reason. This list chronicles the instances when the most basic need of the passengers went unaccounted for: their safety.
10. Carnival Triumph
An eight night vacation to the Caribbean sounded like a great idea to thousands of passengers on the Carnival Triumph in December of 2013. The Carnival Triumph is the second of the five member Destiny-class of cruise ships. The Italian built cruise liner had an estimated four day trip to the Caribbean but it soon became an eight day nightmare. An engine fire left the ship floating off the Gulf of Mexico without power, air conditioning, or a functional septic system.
Passengers began to call the trip the “Poop Cruise.” Human waste was piling up to the point where it lined the hallways outside of passengers’ cabins. What makes matters worse is that the disaster seemed to be preventable as management knew of the problems the ship was having. Documents show that the Triumph set sail with only four of the six generators fully operational. Luckily for everyone involved no one was seriously hurt, but the smell probably did its fair share of damage.
9. Carnival Splendor
In a dramatic case of being stuck at sea, passengers of the Carnival Splendor had crab meat and Spam dropped in by helicopters. It all started with the cruise en route to the Mexican Riviera when an engine room fire cut power to the 952-foot vessel that was carrying more than 4,000 people. The fire took place when the cruise ship was just 200 miles south of San Diego.
Once the engine cut off, the vessel started drifting farther and farther offshore. The fire was put out, but the ship was left with without air conditioning, hot water, mobile phone or internet service. Without power the ship’s food went bad, which resulted in the coast guard delivering more than 50,000 pounds of food. No one was hurt in the disaster, and to the passenger’s delight they were rewarded vouchers for future cruises.
8. Costa Concordia
One of the more tragic cases of disaster on our list goes to the Costa Concordia, where 32 people died and 64 were reported injured of the 4,200 aboard. The Italian cruise ship’s fateful encounter with a reef off the coast of Tuscany, Italy set in motion the tragic series of events. The ship, carrying 4,252 people, was on the first leg of a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea, when passengers say they heard a loud impact which caused a temporary power blackout and the flooding of the engine room.
The captain ordered an evacuation which took nearly six hours and meant that the Costa Concordia was one of the largest ships ever to be abandoned. After an investigation was done, the captain was arrested on preliminary charges of manslaughter in connection with causing a shipwreck, failing to assist 300 passengers, and failing to be the last to leave the wreck. Captain Schettino was eventually found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in prison.
7. Seabourn Spirit
Probably the most frightening case for passengers on our list goes to the Seabourn Spirit’s victimization by Somali Pirates. In 2005, while the vessel was traveling 100 miles off the coast of Somalia, pirates in speedboats attacked the cruise ship. Passengers described how the pirates attacked the ship with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades before the captain changed course and got away.
According to reports, the ship escaped by shifting to high speed while also changing course and utilizing a sonic weapon, which blasts earsplitting noise in a directed beam. As a result of their evasive maneuvers, no one on the ship was injured and the ship was able to make it to Seychelles where the rocket damage was repaired.
6. Celebrity Mercury
One of the most unique cases of suffering on a cruise ship occurred in 2010 when more than 400 passengers of the Celebrity Mercury became violently ill. Later, the Centers for Disease Control deemed it a norovirus outbreak. Passengers became extremely sick with many experiencing vomiting and other gastrointestinal ills on the ship.
What is so interesting about the Celebrity Mercury is that the norovirus outbreak occurred on three straight voyages. The cruises became known as the “diarrhea-cruises.” After the investigation by the CDC, they were unable to identify a cause for the continued outbreaks. It seems best to say that the Celebrity Mercury is not the best of choices when it comes to cruise liners.
5. Norwegian Dawn
After a 70-foot wave smashed into the Norwegian Dawn, it’s hard to believe the company’s statement that passenger safety “was in no way compromised by this incident.” Apparently, many passengers disagreed with nearly 300 of the 2,000 passengers disembarking early in Charleston as the liner was getting repaired. The encounter with Mother Nature saw 62 cabins flooded and many passengers screaming in hysterics, according to firsthand accounts of the incident.
Norwegian Dawn, the 965-foot white ocean liner, had left New York in April of 2005, and was sailing back to New York from the Bahamas when it was pounded by the sea over the weekend. According to reports, the wave reached seven stories, as high as deck 10 on the ship. Luckily for all involved, the incident did not lead to any loss of life.
4. S.S. Eastland
One of the oldest and most tragic incidents on our list is the S.S Eastland disaster, which took place in July of 1915. It was supposed to be a day of fun and relaxation for the employees, families and friends of the Western Electric, but events soon turned dire as the passenger ship rolled over into the river while in port in downtown Chicago.
Tragically, more than 840 of the 2,572 passengers on the ship died in the accident. Many volunteers and emergency personnel acted bravely that day, diving to recover bodies of loved ones and attempting to save the lives of others. It is a testament to the spirit of togetherness in the face of tragedy that Americans have shown in countless incidents.
3. RMS Titanic
The most famous cruise disaster in history, other than Speed 2, goes to the Titanic. It also happens to be one of the most harrowing because of all the lives lost. More than 1,500 of the 2,200 passengers and crew lost their lives in 1912 when the “unsinkable ship” struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic. At the time, the RMS Titanic was the largest passenger liner in service; it took nearly two hours to fully submerge into the ocean’s depths and would become one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.
The Titanic sank with more than a 1,000 passengers and crew on board. James Cameron re-created the tragic incident with his film Titanic, which went on to gross 2 billion dollars. Stars of the film Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet would go on to help pay nursing fees of the last survivor of the disaster.
2. Royal Caribbean
A recent case of fear at sea comes to us from one of the world’s newest and biggest cruise liners, the Royal Caribbean’s 68,666-ton Anthem of the Seas. Fierce winds and weather conditions forced the vessel back to its home port. The captain even ordered that passengers be confined to their quarters until they were safely back.
Passengers still managed to share photos of the damage to the ship, including: the overturning of furniture, smashing of glassware, and the collapsing part of a ceiling in a public corridor. Some passengers were injured and others described the incident as “truly terrifying.” Officials from Royal Caribbean say that the weather reports did not forecast such high wind speeds. Thankfully, the Royal Caribbean managed to dock without anyone being seriously injured.
1. Carnival Ecstasy
A terrifying incident that could have been taken from a horror film unfortunately occurred on the Carnival Ecstasy in December of 2015. The cruise liner was on the final leg of its journey through the Caribbean when the horrifying event occurred. A worker was killed after being crushed to death while carrying out a maintenance related task on the Ecstasy. Jose Opazo was working alongside a colleague on the elevator when it crushed him to death.
Passengers witnessed the aftermath and recounted the elevator having blood running down it like the film The Shining. According to the witness, Matt Davis, he and his wife and children were enjoying the festive holidays when they saw, “the elevator with just blood coming down like a sheet, and not stopping.” A horrifying thing to see indeed.