A Carnival cruise ship trying to dock in Cozumel, Mexico, crashed into an already-docked ship at the port Friday morning, leaving six passengers injured.
According to Carnival Cruise Line spokesman Vance Gulliksen, Carnival Glory was trying to dock when it “made contact” with the smaller Carnival Legend, which was already docked. He referred to the crash as, technically, an “allision,” a nautical term meaning one of the objects was not moving when it was struck. It wasn’t immediately clear how the accident happened.
Experts said they expected investigators to look at several factors: what the mooring plan was for the Carnival Glory, what role wind and other weather might have played, whether the ship’s engines had any issues that could have affected propulsion and what was going on at the ship’s controls.
“I cannot say with certainty here, but my hunch is that these ships are frequent callers on this port,” says Kyle McAvoy, a retired Coast Guard captain and marine safety expert with consulting firm Robson Forensic. “It’s probably something that is done very often by these two ships at this specific port and so it may be somewhat of a routine. So what went wrong this time? That’s what this investigation will have to figure out.”
Several passengers on the Carnival ships and the nearby Oasis of the Seas — which the Glory appeared to veer uncomfortably close to — posted videos and photos of the incident and the aftermath. A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean International, which owns Oasis of the Seas, said the ship was not impacted and did not have any damage.
One woman on the Carnival Legend narrated as she watched the moving ship veer toward the nearby Oasis of the Seas.
“Stop, stop, stop,” said the woman, whose user name on Twitter is Maddie Morris. “Oh my gosh, this is bad.”
“We are assessing the damage, but there are no issues that impact the seaworthiness of either ship,” Gulliksen said in an email. “We have advised guests from both ships to enjoy their day ashore in Cozumel.”
Early Friday, he said one passenger on Carnival Glory suffered a minor injury when he or she was part of a group of people evacuated from the dining room on the third and fourth decks of that ship. Later in the afternoon, Carnival sent an updated statement saying six passengers had gone to the ship’s medical center with minor injuries. Photos on social media show a crumpled exterior and several broken windows.
“Someone could have died!” one man said as he recorded video from the pier.
Jordan Moseley, who was a passenger on Carnival Legend, said in a Twitter message that he was eating breakfast on the ship when the crash happened.
“All of a sudden we felt the ship rock to one side and then back into place,” he said. “A few minutes later, the cruise director announced that the Carnival Glory had crashed into our ship while docking due to the high winds and rough ocean conditions in Cozumel.”
Christian Maxey, 20, was in his cabin a couple decks below the point of impact when he felt “a little bit of an impact.” He said the ocean had been rough so far on the cruise, even forcing the ship to miss a stop in Grand Cayman.
“I don’t think people really understood that we had actually hit something, given that our weather had been rocky," he says.
He said the first acknowledgement that something had happened came 45 minutes to an hour after the strike. The cruise director did not explicitly say what happened, according to Maxey.
“He said, ‘We’ve had a boo boo,’" Maxey says.
Later, the captain gave an update with more information, but still encouraged passengers to enjoy their day in Cozumel. Maxey, who was sailing with his parents, said he would probably stay near the ship to get any updates. The voyage is scheduled to end Sunday in New Orleans, and Carnival said early Friday neither ship’s itinerary would be disrupted.
“It’s been a weird cruise,” Maxey says.