Norwegian Escape Cancels Cruises due to Damage from Grounding
Officials from the Dominican Republic’s Navy and the Port Authority confirmed that in a joint operation the cruise ship Norwegian Escape was successfully refloated, but late today reported that the ship will remain in the Dominican Republic. Passengers took to social media also confirming that they have been told that the cruise ship will remain at Puerto Taino Bay and that cruise was canceled due to damage sustained during yesterday's grounding.
“Norwegian made the decision that Norwegian Escape should remain in Taino Bay,” wrote Autoridad Portuaria Dominicana (APORDOM) on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon. “An NCL supervisor is on his way to the terminal to conduct a further on-site inspection and determine next steps.” Passengers had little additional information, only confirming that the scheduled 4:00 p.m. departure from the Dominican Republic was canceled. Late today, Norwegian confirmed that the ship suffered "minor damage" to its hull that will require repairs and that they will be flying the passengers home from the Dominican Republic and canceling the next cruise.
The 165,000 gross ton cruise ship was departing the Dominican Republic on March 14 when the ship grounded just outside Puerto Taino Bay in the Puerto Plata region at approximately 5:10 p.m., 10 minutes after her scheduled departure. Dominican officials are reporting that there are 3,223 passengers and 1,1618 crew aboard the ship and that no one was injured during the grounding.
“Apparently, when the ship was preparing to leave the local Taíno Bay port, it made an exit route a little further west than the usual route at times when the tide was low. A strong wind of around 30 knots was what caused it to tilt from the usual route,” Vice Admiral Ramón Gustavo Betances Hernández, general commander of the Navy, told a local newspaper. The cruise ship was unable to stop the grounding or to back away. Two local tugboats reached the vessel in minutes and secured lines but they were also unable to make progress.
Current view from our room (930est) not pulling on us but still present pic.twitter.com/Hi3ZWvnOR0— The Disney Dude (@DisneyTalk101) March 15, 2022
#NorwegianEscape is Free! We wiggled our way out at about 12:45am. Kudos to Captain Giovanni and the amazing bridge officers for working hard, swiftly and most importantly, safely! ?? #PuertoPlata #NCLEscape pic.twitter.com/uzrQo4ArzY— Robbie O’Malley (@robbieo625) March 15, 2022
The Dominican Navy, Dominican Port Authority, Civil Defense, Ministry of Tourism, and elected officials from the offices of the governor and mayor as well as the senate all responded and a task force was organized to oversee the efforts to free the cruise ship. The decision was made to wait for high tide at 11:00 p.m. before further attempting to refloat the Norwegian Escape.
"We are waiting for the tide to rise and for a large tugboat to arrive that is in Puerto Rico to move the ship,” provincial senator Ginnette Bournigal told the local newspaper Diario Libre.
Passengers reported that the tugboats remained secured to the ship with lines fore and aft and at around 12:45 a.m. this morning the tugs in combination with the engines aboard the Norwegian Escape were able to free the cruise ship. She proceeded back to the dock at Puerto Taino Bay. A second Norwegian cruise ship, the Norwegian Encore, was forced to divert to Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic due to the lack of dock space for her scheduled port call today.
Passengers were given a second day ashore in the Dominican Republic while divers were sent to inspect the underside of the ship and its propulsion pods for possible damage. Earlier reports from the Navy said that so far, no damage had been detected either on the hull or inside the cruise ship. Dominican officials are now reporting that passengers will be flown back to Florida on Wednesday and Thursday and then the ship will depart.
Divers began examining the hull and propulsion pods for damage (Autoridad Portuaria Dominicana)