As our cruise ship injury attorneys well know, accidents can take place onboard a vessel for several reasons. Sometimes cruise operators are negligent and can contribute to accidents onboard vessels, while other times, accidents can take place through no one particular person’s fault. When sailing at sea, a main factor leading to passenger and crewmember injuries is unfavorable weather, but in crucial moments when seemingly favorable weather turns hazardous, it is up to the vessel’s captain to make a critical call to alter the ship’s itinerary in order to avoid heading into a storm, choppy waters or other conditions that might cause people onboard to get hurt. In addition proper warnings should be given to the passengers and crew.
The MSC Cruises vessel Sinfonia was recently affected due to strong winds in Cape Town and authorities had to take action in order to make sure those onboard were not harmed. The vessel was trapped in Cape Town harbor from November 28 to December 1 after 75-mile-per-hour winds led authorities to close the port. While the delay caused the ship’s planned five-night cruise to become a two-night cruise stuck in the middle of a harbor, authorities did what was necessary in order to ensure the safety of those onboard was maintained.
According to the Southern Africa online news site News24, Sinfonia was scheduled to leave for Walvis Bay in Namibia on November 28, the day of embarkation, but the winds, which could contribute to several accidents onboard, including injuries from furniture moved by the wind on the ship’s exterior decks, caused the delay.
“The comfort and safety of passengers will always be the top priority for MSC and when the conditions are severe enough for the local port authorities to close the entire port to all shipping, it’s a clear message that those conditions pose a significant safety risk and/or extreme discomfort levels for those at sea,” said Allan Foggitt of MSC Starlight Cruises, the general sales agent for MSC Cruises in South Africa.
According to Yvette Batalla, a U.S.-based MSC Cruises spokesperson who spoke to Cruise Critic regarding the matter, the vessel departed Cape Town on December 1 at 4:45 a.m. local time, sailed a two-night cruise to nowhere and returned to Cape Town on December 3. Although passengers were not allowed to get off the ship, crewmembers kept all onboard activities going, aside from the onboard shops and casino, which had to remain closed due to immigration and custom laws. The 1,273 passengers that were onboard were treated to free drinks at various times, a 30 percent discount on bar purchases for the rest of the cruise and were offered a 50 percent discount on a future cruise, which could be combined with the best promotional fare offered for a cruise of their choice on the Sinfonia or Opera ships. In addition, passengers were given the option to remain onboard for the next cruise departing December 3 and returning December 7 for only $170.
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