In recent years, you may have come across news about Norwegian Cruise Lines accidents, such as the 70-foot wave that hit one of its vessels in 2005. In assessing a cruise line, it's important to research all aspects of it, including traveler reviews, news-making events, and how the company responds to customer concerns.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)
Established in 1966, Norwegian Cruise Line began with one ship sailing the Caribbean. Today, the Miami-based company has grown to 11 liners and travels to 12 destinations, from Alaska to South America. Notably, NCL pioneered the "freestyle cruising" concept, which did away with much of the stuffiness once associated with cruise travel. The fleet includes:
- Norwegian Dawn
- Norwegian Gem
- Norwegian Jade
- Norwegian Majesty
- Norwegian Pearl
- Norwegian Sky
- Norwegian Spirit
- Norwegian Star
- Norwegian Sun
- Pride of America
The company is set to add one more to its fleet in July 2010: the Norwegian Epic. When launched, it will become the largest ship of Norwegian Cruise Line, surpassing the 965-foot Norwegian Jewel.
Types of Cruise Accidents
As far as cruise accidents, there are generally four types that can occur:
- Passenger-caused accidents
- Weather-related accidents
- Engineering accidents
- Shore-excursion accidents
Unfortunately for Norwegian Cruise Lines, accidents in all four categories have made the news in the past decade, the most well-known perhaps the 2003 boiler explosion on board the now-defunct SS Norway.
Norwegian Cruise Lines Accidents
Accidents for all cruise ships are officially reported on a regular basis, but some incidents become highly public. For NCL, the following accidents were covered in the press and continue to be updated.
At the time, the SS Norway was one of the few remaining steam-driven ships still in service. In May 2003, while docked in Miami, Boiler No. 23 exploded, killing four crew members and injuring 17 more. In the end, eight men lost their lives and 10 others were critically injured. Extensive fatigue cracking proved the cause of the accident, which investigators deemed a preventable tragedy. After the accident, they pulled the ship out of service and eventually, turned it into scrap.
On her return voyage to New York from the Bahamas, the Norwegian Dawn was hit by a "freak" 70-foot wave that left four injured and 62 cabins flooded. With the wave reaching deck 10 of the ship, questions were raised over "why" the Dawn was sailing in such rough waters.
On the second day of a 14-night around-the-horn trip (Buenos Aires and Valparaiso), the Norwegian Dream hit a commercial barge, damaging its bow and front ballast. As a result, the ship was docked for repairs and the cruise, inevitably delayed.
During a shore excursion, a passenger of the Norwegian Spirit tragically lost her life after the cable on her zip-line (30 feet in the air) snapped. The excursion, part of a western Caribbean experience, was removed from NCL's website immediately following the tragedy.
A passenger mysteriously fell overboard the Norwegian Dawn a few hours after boarding the vessel, bound for Bermuda. The cruise ship took part in the search and rescue for "about four hours," after which time the Coast Guard released it to continue its journey. The ship later turned over surveillance tapes to help explain what may have happened, though the family was still concerned of foul play. The FBI continues to probe the case.
On a three-day cruise from Miami to the Bahamas, passengers on board the Norwegian Sky witnessed a fellow passenger go overboard as the ship neared Nassau. The Coast Guard was immediately contacted and a search covering 590 square miles was conducted. After approximately 14 hours, the search was suspended. The passenger was not found.
How to Find Info on Accidents
Finding out about accidents is important for any traveler. Just as reviews might help you decide on a particular cruise, so too might news about accidents - not only where and how they happen, but also what the ship's response was.
To learn about a cruise you're interested in, search online for the ship's name. The Internet is an archive of news stories and is really your best and most-easily accessible resource. For Norwegian Cruise Lines accidents, search by the individual ship and see what news history turns up. As said, accidents do occur on ships, and at times tragedies strike. Learn the details behind the accidents: the frequency, circumstances, and responsiveness of the ship (both immediate and long-term).
Also, frequent sites that cover the cruise industry:
- Cruise Critic: Offering reviews, tips, and news on cruises. Stay up to date on the latest Norwegian Cruise Line news.
- CruiseJunkie.com: In the site's "Events at Sea" section, read up on current cruise-ship accidents and search the archive for past coverage, dating back to 2002.
- CruiseMates: Covering industry news for all cruise lines. Message boards are a good source for personal accounts of NCL cruises.