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Cruise Ship Off Florida Tips to Side, Injuring 93

Passengers describe tables flying and decks flooding as the vessel lurches then rights itself.

July 19, 2006|Laurin Sellers and Beth Kassab | Orlando Sentinel

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — A month-old cruise ship suddenly lurched to its side Tuesday and sent terrified passengers flying, leaving 93 people injured, including two critically, authorities said.

The Crown Princess, a 113,000-ton vessel that can hold about 3,000 passengers and 1,200 crew members, was approximately 11 miles out of Port Canaveral and headed for New York when it listed sharply to the left at about 3:40 p.m., witnesses and officials said. The ship then righted itself before returning to port, where the Coast Guard said all passengers and crew had been accounted for.

Petty Officer James Judge, a Coast Guard spokesman, said the ship had reported problems with its steering apparatus.

Capt. Jim Watson, spokesman for the Cape Canaveral Fire Department, said at least two people were critically hurt, including a young girl. Thirty-three people were taken to hospitals, he said.

Some passengers suffered fractures and bruises and "some more serious than that," said Julie Benson, spokeswoman for Princess Cruise Lines, which owns the ship.

Passenger Tom Daus, 32, said he was sunbathing on the upper deck when the ship suddenly rolled.

"It became very disastrous because ... tables, glasses, lounge chairs went flying," Daus said. "I was just holding on for dear life onto the banister of the ship."

Daus, of Brooklyn, N.Y., said several of the decks were flooded and the elevators were not working. "The water came gushing out of the pool like a mini-tsunami," he said. "It was really scary. People who were in the pool were shoved out."

Bonnie Storie, 50, of Rochester, N.Y., traveling with her husband and son, said it felt like the ship "was going to fall over. It was shocking."

The 950-foot ship was christened last month in New York and was on its fourth voyage. It sailed out of New York on a nine-day western Caribbean itinerary. Port Canaveral was its last port of call before returning to New York.

At Port Canaveral, Brevard County Sheriff Jack Parker said that the cruise had been canceled and that the boat would probably be in port three to four days for an investigation.

Officials said they thought the ship was nearly full.

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The Associated Press and Amy C. Rippel of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

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