Captain protests over risk to ship

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A cruise ship captain has fired an angry salvo of words at port authorities in St John’s, Antigua, after his ship almost grounded while docking in the Caribbean capital.
Celebrity Eclipse – a regular summer visitor to the UK for cruises from Southampton – was directed by a pilot into a channel which was not deep enough, according to Captain Dimitrios Manetas.
After discovering that there was less than eight inches clearance between the ship’s bulbous bow and the sea bed, the captain demanded a meeting with the port authority, pilot association and local port agent.
His strongly-worded follow-up letter, which has been obtained by local newspaper, the Antigua Observer, said the incident could have led to damage to the ship and risk to the safety of passengers and crew.
Eclipse was scheduled to dock at St John’s Heritage Quay South Pier last Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, but was diverted to the Nevis Street Pier when crew realised only one gangway would be available – insufficient to cope with the 2,850 passengers on board.
Captain Manetas wrote: “It is clear, by your own admission, that there had been lack of preparation and organisation between the Port Authority, pilots and agents to receive Celebrity Eclipse.
“Due to this disorganisation, the vessel could have damaged the hull and compromised the safety of guests and crew onboard; such last minute changes result in delaying the ship docking and causing dissatisfaction amongst our guests.
“When we were approaching Nevis Street Pier, the pilot informed us that there was enough water forward of the ship, and that we could proceed ahead in order to fit both mid-ship gangways on the pier.
“After docking was completed, sounding was performed around the vessel to verify under-keel clearance, which was found to be 20 cm under the bulbous bow,” added Captain Manetas.
An Antiguan commenting on the local newspaper report wrote: “Yikes! Eight inches of clearance under a boat that size! Scary scary. No wonder the captain was peeved. This is what happens when you know quite well that the harbour needs to be dredged urgently but you put it off till next year because you are broke.”
Celebrity Cruises declined to comment further today, saying that the captain’s letter spoke for itself.

By | 2012-11-27T16:52:16+00:00 27 November 2012|Cruise news|0 Comments

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

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