Passenger aboard Celestyal Crystal says collision with oil tanker off Turkey felt like ‘explosion’

Celestyal Cruises’ ship Celestyal Crystal and a tanker have collided off the coast of Gallipoli, Turkey, Cruise Arabia & Africa understands, based on passenger accounts and media reports.

Celestyal Crystal broadsided the oil tanker in the early hours of Sunday morning, causing extensive damage to both ships.

An official with DNV GL, the class society to which Celestyal Crystal belongs described the damage to the ship’s bow as “akin to a broken nose”.

“Her entire bow area has been crushed,” the official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Cruise Arabia & Africa. “The damage is actually less severe than it might have been as she struck the oil tanker head-on with the bow, which is the strongest part of the ship.”

The oil tanker, STI Pimlico, did not fair as well, with a significant gash in her port side. The official with DNV GL confirmed that the tanker, which is carrying a cargo of naptha briefly leaked fuel oil into the ocean before the leak was brought under control.

He said a full investigation has been launched, but declined to give further details.

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Passengers aboard the cruise ship were thrown from their feet as the impact occurred, a passenger, Max*, told Cruise Arabia & Africa via Facebook.

“It felt as though something has exploded at the front of the ship,” he said in a Facebook message. “The ship shuddered and a horrible crunching, grinding noise reverberated right through the ship. I was convinced we would sink.”

However, Celestyal Cruises have released a statement confirming that the ship was not found to be taking on water in the immediate aftermath of the incident and was able to proceed to port in Gallipoli, where DNV GL inspectors are conducting an assessment of her damage.

All of the 852 passengers and 382 crewmembers aboard the ship are safe, the cruise line added, although one passenger and two crew members suffered “minor injuries”.

The cruise line, which primarily operates in the Mediterranean, but charters Celestyal Crystal to Cuba Cruises during the winter season in the Caribbean, has confirmed that passengers are being disembarked from the ship, with the rest of the voyage having been cancelled.

The cruise line is making arrangements for passengers to continue the Mediterranean cruise on-board other ships in the Celestyal fleet.

“With the safety and care of our passengers as our utmost priority, we will ensure the smoothest possible disembarkation for those on board since the current cruise will have to be cancelled,” Celestyal said in an emailed statement.

The entire cruise will be refunded, and complimentary seven-night cruises, valid through the end of 2016 have been offered.

“We apologize for the inconvenience and would like to assure that we will spare no effort in ensuring that our passengers are provided with the best hospitality under the circumstances,” the statement added.

The cruise line has not said whether subsequent cruises on Celestyal Crystal will be affected, but given the damage to the ship’s bow she will certainly need to be dry-docked.

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