The 6 Worst Cruise Ship Accidents and Mishaps
Most of the cruise ship incidents reported in the news involve a property damage or a handful of people. Some, however, stand out for their sheer magnitude. Our list includes the worst of the worst. The billion-dollar industry leaves passengers with fond memories and fun adventures, but the following incidents paint an all too possible and different picture.
Eastern Star: The Perils of Stormy Weather (2015)
The cruise along the Yangtze River in China held over 450 passengers – most of which were retirees and senior citizens. After a serious storm that may have included a tornado, the boat capsized. Only 14 passengers survived. After the storm, rescuers expanded their search radiuses to 600 miles and used forensics to identify victims. Later evaluations theorized the vessel’s top-heavy construction may have put it more at-risk for losing its balance.
Carnival Triumph: The “Poop Cruise” (2013)
The ship carrying over 4,000 passengers was scheduled for a four-day cruise around Mexico. The cruise turned into an eight-day nightmare when the engine room caught on fire. Soon after, the entire ship lost power, and passengers had to deal with the conditions until tugboats could bring the ship back into the port in Mobile, Alabama. Conditions were uncomfortable to say the least. Passengers were forced to use bags to collect their waste and to deal with the stagnant air below decks.
Costa Concordia: The Capsized One (2012)
This cruise ship disaster involved over 4,000 passengers and caused 32 deaths. The ship ran aground near Italy hours after leaving port. A rock pierced the hull on its port side, causing water to gush into and capsize the ship. As the ship tilted, the engine rooms took on water and all power was lost. The captain did not give the order to evacuate until over an hour after the accident.
Nearly an hour after giving the evacuation order, passengers remained onboard looking for a foothold. The captain went to shore before all the ship’s passengers were recovered. He was later convicted on charges of manslaughter for abandoning the ship.
Celebrity Mercury: A Viral Outbreak (2010)
Disaster struck this 12-day cruise when a nasty outbreak of norovirus sickened hundreds. Of the ship’s 2,687 passengers, 446 suffered from the miserable effects of this well-known stomach virus. The highly contagious illness left those passengers with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Containment was the ship’s only choice until the passengers reached shore, and so the cruise line asked passengers to remain in their cabins. The sickened guests were all given vouchers for future cruises, but they may not want to step foot on a ship after that experience.
SS Eastland (1915)
Two years after the Titanic, this Great Lakes ship carrying 2,573 passengers left the Chicago River. When passengers boarded the ship in the morning, it began to tilt to its port side. The ship righted itself, but then continued to tilt minutes later. The movement caused water to rush through gangways and into the hull. It rolled onto its side before passengers could initiate an evacuation response. That day, 844 people died feet from the dock.
Unfortunately, the ship’s organizers tried to pile lifeboats and lifesaving equipment on the decks of the ship to avoid a Titanic-like disaster. In doing so, they created a top heavy vessel prone to rollover disasters.
Titanic: The Unsinkable One (1912)
This single catastrophe still holds the attention of historians, media outlets, and others. This iconic vessel struck an iceberg, killing 1,503 people. There were enough lifejackets, but not nearly enough lifeboats. In the frigid waters – about 28 degrees Fahrenheit – an average person could only last a maximum of 15 minutes before losing consciousness and a maximum of 45–50 minutes before dying.
These disasters serve as warnings to the cruise industry. Many could have been avoided with some common sense.