What caused a crack to open up in structure of cruise ship Ventura?

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What is the cause of a two-inch-wide crack which opened up in the deck of P&O cruise ship, necessitating urgent repairs on its return to Southampton yesterday?
Passengers on board the four-and-a-half-year-old ship took to Twitter, Facebook and cruise bulletin boards to report the incident, with some suggesting that rough seas during a crossing of the notorious Bay of Biscay were responsible for the damage.
A gap opened up across the starboard side of Deck 16, directly below the Laguna Pool deck, leaving a number of glass panes loose. The area was immediately taped off, and some reports said passengers on Deck 14 were told not to use their balconies.
When I contacted P&O’s head office in Southampton, I was told the incident was “not weather-related,” and was given a prepared statement which read: “Repairs will be made to an aluminium deck on Ventura upon arrival in Southampton today. This has no structural strength or safety implications.
“Ventura will leave Southampton later today as planned for a two night cruise.”
All of which begs the question – if the damage was not a reuslt of heavy seas, what was the cause? And are there any implications for other vessels built to a similar design?
The 116,000-ton Ventura, which has 1,550 cabins and carries more than 3,000 passengers, has an almost identical sister, Azura, sailing under P&O colours. Both were built by a Fincantieri shipyard in Italy.
Their design is based on the Grand class of ships built for Princess Cruises – like P&O, owned by the Carnival Corporation. Grand Princess and Caribbean Princess are frequent visitor to UK shores. Most, like the newest, Ruby Princess, were built by Fincantieri in Italy, although a couple of basically similar design were constructed in Japan.
On reaching its fifth birthday next April, Ventura is scheduled to undertake a 15-day dry-dock overhaul during which its hull will be re-painted and a number of internal changes including the fitting of single cabins. It looks like the work schedulers might have some additional repairs to take into account.
►I witnessed at first hand the power of the sea during an October crossing of the Bay of Biscay six years ago. On board Fred Olsen’s Black Watch, I spent two days being pounded by heavy seas, with winds reaching hurricane-force 12.
The ship’s bows were stoved in by the weight of the water and, although the vessel’s seaworthiness was unaffected, it was some months before repairs could be effected.
I also saw a number of small cracks which opened up in the structure, radiating, for example, from the corners of window and door openings.

By | 2012-10-20T13:35:03+00:00 20 October 2012|Cruise News, Cruise Ships|4 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. stevee1 20 October 2012 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Hi Having just returned on from the trip on the Ventura and seen the damage caused to the deck after we had crossed the B,O,B I happened to talk to the deputy captain who at the time had been inspecting the damage caused to the deck who informed me it was the length of the waves that we encountered that caused the ship to flex more thus stressing the joint more than it was designed to take .I have taken quite a few pictures and more than happy to to post them on to a site if required.

  2. Pete James 21 October 2012 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    have just returned from a 14 day cruise aboard Ventura, TBA sea was far rougher leaving Southampton towards the first stop Barcelona IMHO. Bar staff that alerted us to the damage were told Not to speak about the huge crack on deck 14/15 which in my opinion was extensive lets put it this way P & O quickly dismissed the damage as Non Structural curiouly a couple of passengers on deck 14 – 15 were instructed not to use their balconies? in addition the staircase was cordoned off so why have they made a statement dismissing claims that the damage was not structural whether outside or inside the damage by definition was structural. Whilst onboard and more importantly for us our cabin/stateroom toilet over flowed (and No! it was nothing we had put down it that we should not of, an engineer who attended suggested backedup/blocked loos often happen onboard cruise ships I can confirm this is true because as soon as you entered most toilets on the entertainment deck you could smell it, eye watering) the contents of the overflowed toilet had filled the bathroom floor initially and just carried on flushing, it did not stop and then eventually escaped into the cabin, it was not very nice experience, the solution was not to change cabins (ship was full apparently) but to install an industrial dryer in the cabin which was located a metre from our clothes hanging on the rail when dry? after the carpet was dry it was obviously heavilly stained and the cabin steward said she will clean it when the ship arrives back in Southampton? P & O put a great emphasis on hygiene the washing hands and the use of soaps/sprays but on many occasions the gel sprays or auto soap dispensers were empty? First and last time with P & O and a lot of people were complaining about the extremely poor standard of food, more Pub Grub Fayre/Cafe Style than fine dining and a lot of the food served was never ever hot just warm, I reported this to the Maitre D’ and told him the food was warm served on wet cold plates and I had never seen anyone use a food heat probe to test that food was being presented at the correct temperatures, he gave me a look clearly it was one of those looks that said, “PO” and with one or two exceptions the meats on offer were completely dried out and in some cases inedible, I do not eat fish or pasta one evening that was the only choices on offer, once again No Veg so I had boiled potatoes and french fries . . . . nice on stale buns. Cauiflower and Brocolli in batter that was the only rare occasion that veg made an appearance well aside from grated carrot raw beetroot and cabbage even Aunt Bessie would not offer or add this to her range, good news some of the sweets and cakes were very very nice and yes! yes, they were definately all they are cracked-up to be, for me personally some of the sweets on offer were a life saver. One day we decided to push the boat out and decided to take advantage of breakfast in bed the following day we ordered from the continental breakfast menu clicked on cereals, toast(2) croissants (3) with butter (6) and jam inter-actively via the TV when it arrived the order was incorrect, wrong cereals Alpen arrived not All Bran (rookie mistake?) and no butter? but on checking the printed receipt left on tray it confirmed what we had ordered but it was not what was on the tray? Finally from the moment we boarded Ventura it became clear . . . . and other passengers that it was far from a happy ship a lot of staff we saw seemed convinced that they were on holiday too, they stood around in groups and only moved when someone in white appreared and had to give out instructions, clearing tables without cleaning them, and get this No salt or pepper cellars due to Health & Safety?? this 4 star ship provided salt and pepper in paper bags confirming once and for all if more proof was needed that P & O Ventura dining is more pub grub and transport cafe than fine dining I mentioned that their were no cups and the tea draw was empty he pointed instrucuting me to the other eating section some 20/30 metres away.

  3. D McNeil 22 October 2012 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    I read the previous comment and wonder what ship he was actually on. I too was on the ventura during the “crack cruise” and thought the food was of excellent quality. The salt and peppar cellars were on every table I sat at during the entire 2 weeks and I found the staff helpful and attentive.Please note a potato is infact a vegetable.

  4. L Loades 25 October 2012 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Isn’t this the same shipyard that Saga Sapphire was refurbed at. The tales of the problems with that ship in its inital cruises are well documented. Sounds scary what problems encountered and the problems caused. Don’t shipping companies learn that customers can no longer be fobbed off!!

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