The passengers of the Cruise ship Carnival Ecstasy disembarked at Galveston after a three day old incident that left them shaken when the Captain made an emergency manoeuver to swerve around a buoy that was adrift. The result: the ship listed over or about for a minute.
That was enough. Passengers and equipment went flying; sixty people were later treated for minor injuries by the ship’s medical team, although no one was seriously hurt, according to Carnival’s Jennifer De La Cruz. Some passengers said that the figure of those injured was much higher: passenger Cuqui Trevino said that 500 people needed attention because of lacerations from broken glass. “Several people were bleeding, and a little boy had glass in his head,” Trevino told a Galveston newspaper.
Carnival said later that there was “minor damage to merchandise and unsecured objects” on board, and that the US Coast Guard had been informed of the incident.
The Ecstasy was near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with 2,340 passengers and 900 crew when she apparently encountered a partially submerged buoy. The buoy did not show up on the radar, according to a Company statement, resulting in the bridge team having to make an emergency and abrupt alteration of course.
Passenger Dr. Neel Shah was having lunch with his family around 12:55 pm when he says, “The boat actually tilted about 35 to 40 degrees so we could actually see water rising up to the windows of the eighth floor,” Shah said. “As soon as the boat tilted, everyone started screaming, there was glass flying everywhere. People fell on the floor.” Carnival says, however, that the Ecstasy listed a more likely 12 degrees.
The worst incident of this kind was the 2006 Crown Princess list, when around three hundred passengers and crew were injured, some seriously, as that ship listed 24 degrees because of a junior bridge watch keeping officer entering wrong inputs in the vessel’s integrated bridge system.
As can be expected with the Ecstasy incident, there was panic from more than a few amongst the passengers. This is what Patricia Edwards told television reporters at Galveston. “We go to sleep, the next thing we know, [my husband] rolled and hit the floor, I rolled and hit the floor, the whole boat is going to the side. Everything you can hear, everybody's cabin is just falling and crashing to the floor. We get up, and I look out the door and everyone is running back to their rooms to get their life rafts (sic). I mean the whole boat just shifted. Everyone had their life rafts (sic) and that's when they were running with people on stretchers."
Some holidaymakers on the Carnival Ecstasy, Dr. Shah amongst them, say that the crew handled the situation very well, reassuring guests and calming them down after the incident. Carnival, meanwhile, has released a statement apologising to its guests for “the distress and discomfort" that the incident has caused, adding, "The safety, comfort and care of our guests and crew is our top priority."