Uniworld Brings Suit Against MSC After Venice Collision


Published Jan 22, 2020 2:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

River cruise company Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has brought a suit against MSC Cruise Management (UK) Limited seeking reimbursement for damages incurred following a June 2, 2019 incident in which a Uniworld ship River Countess was hit by MSC Opera, a 275-meter, 66,000 tonne ocean ship, while docked at the San Basilio Cruise Terminal in Venice, Italy. 

130 people were onboard the River Countess at the time.

Uniworld CEO and President Ellen Bettridge claims extensive conversations with MSC to compensate Uniworld for its losses have been unproductive. "MSC has decided to ignore the gravity of the situation, which has disrupted our guests, our partners and our team," said Bettridge.  "Aside from the severe damage to our ship, we were forced to cancel 14 voyages, frustrating our guests and travel partners during the peak summer season."

To date, Uniworld estimates its losses that include passenger reimbursement, ship damage, lost revenue and the protection of travel agent commissions to be in excess of 11.5 million Euros ($12.8 million). This estimate excludes additional potential claims from customers and related damages. 

"We do not like to litigate but have been compelled to do so based on the stonewalling and delays by MSC and its representatives – even after receiving a letter of guarantee by their own insurance agency, West of England. We expect more and better from a fellow member of the cruise industry and regret having to go to court to seek fitting remedy," said Bettridge.

The incident, which remains under investigation by Italian authorities, is believed to have occurred after a power failure on MSC Opera during berthing. The pilot was able to steer the vessel in an attempt to minimize damage in the moments before the vessel struck the embankment and the River Countess.

The incident impacted nearly 16,00 guests over the course of several months. "This situation has been incredibly distressing, particularly for those guests and crew who experienced the traumatic moment onboard first-hand and those who watched the terrifying videos in the days to follow. We wish for nothing more than to put this behind us," says Bettridge.