Rogue waves up to 100 feet tall are a spontaneous natural phenomenon that cannot easily be predicted. In 2005, the Grand Voyager of Iberojet Cruises was smacked by a wave that knocked out propulsion and communications systems and injured 20 passengers. In 2010, the Louis Majesty, operated by Louis Cruise Lines, was struck by 26-foot waves off the coast of France, smashing glass and killing two of the 1,400 passengers and injuring another 14. Preventive measures: Ship windows are being strengthened, and scientists are studying the prevalence of rogue waves across the ocean so that ships can be warned to avoid high-risk areas. Effectiveness: The unpredictable nature of these waves can make them difficult to forecast. Researchers are continuing to improve their methods, in the hope of one day developing a more accurate early-warning system. Most common reason for failure: Lack of reliable data.
Cruise lines carefully monitor storms. If a ship gets caught in rough weather, the results can be deadly. In 1998, all 100 passengers on Windjammer Cruises’ Fantome disembarked safely in Belize, but the crew (on company orders) attempted to sail the ship out of the path of Hurricane Mitch. The storm changed course and obliterated the vessel, killing all 31 crew. Preventive measures: Buoys and satellites keep crew informed of changing weather. Effectiveness: Modern weather surveillance is highly effective at charting and predicting storm paths, allowing cruise ships to easily avoid dangerous weather. Most common reason for failure: Human error.
There were 72 fires aboard cruise ships over the last 20 years. In 2011, an engine room fire on the M.S. Nordlys, operated by the Norwegian cruise company Hurtigruten, killed two passengers and injured an additional 16 people. In April, the Azamara Quest’s engine room caught fire, with the blaze was quickly extinguished by the crew. Preventive measures: Firefighting teams, miles of sprinkler piping,...
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