Cruise Passengers Stuck in Storm Sent Farewell Messages

100 people were injured when the Spirit of Discovery suddenly lurched to the left
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2023 2:10 PM CST
100 Passengers Injured on Cruise Ship Caught in Storm
Saga's Spirit of Discovery passes a cargo vessel in this 2019 photo.   (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

Passengers on a cruise ship that was caught in a fierce storm in the Bay of Biscay on Saturday say they were so afraid that they sent farewell messages to loved ones. CNN reports that Saga Cruises' Spirit of Discovery ship cut short a 14-day cruise around the Canary Islands to return to Portsmouth, England, trying to stay ahead of bad weather—but it was hit by a storm in the bay off France's west coast, which is notorious for rough weather. Around 100 passengers—10% of the 1,000 on board—were injured when a safety system kicked in, causing the boat to suddenly lurch to the left and come to a stop.

Passengers say the ship remained in position for 15 terrifying hours as the storm raged. "The tone of voice of the captain ... he was physically scared," one passenger tells the BBC. "We had crew crying. We had many passengers in awful states of fear." Other passengers said furniture "went flying" and the ship's dining room became a "makeshift medical area." Saga said most injuries were minor but five seriously injured people were hospitalized when the ship made it to Portsmouth on Monday. Passengers praised the crew for their handling of the emergency but slammed Saga for the decision to "rush from the Canaries into the storm." One person pointed out on X that tracking apps showed there were no other passenger vessels in the Bay of Biscay during the storm.

Saga CEO Nigel Blanks told CNN decisions were made on "advice from the ship's Master and forecasts from our dedicated marine meteorologists." A 68-year-old passenger from England who was injured when the ship lurched tells the Telegraph that she is "bruised and sore, and still wobbly." She says that when the ship was listing badly, she messaged a friend, telling them where they could find her will. She says she believes the cruise company behaved "disgracefully." "Frankly I don't give a flying fig about compensation," she says. "I just want Saga to own the fact that they made the most appalling decisions." (More cruise ships stories.)

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