Voyager Damaged by Heavy Seas
In a bizarre coincidence, the 591-ft cruise ship MV Voyager was damaged by a huge wave (46 ft) in the Mediterranean just two weeks after her sister ship MV Explorer was hit by a similar wave off the coast of Alaska. Both ships were originally built for Royal Olympic cruises and had operated as cruise ships for seven years without a serious mishap. When Royal Olympic filed for bankruptcy protection back in March of 2004 the ships were sold to new owners. Voyager is currently sailing as Grand Voyager for Spanish tour operator Iberojet and Explorer is sailing as a university sponsored "Semester at Sea" vessel.
Voyager, with more than 700 passengers on board, was on a voyage from Tunis to Barcelona when it was caught in a storm early this morning and hit by the huge wave while approximately 60 miles from Menorca. The wave reportedly struck the bridge area and damaged electronic equipment and caused engine failure for a period of time. A nearby LPG tanker rushed to the scene and stood by while the crew attempted to restart the engines. A French, Spanish and British navy vessels were also dispatched along with aircraft to track the ship's position.
The crew was eventually able to restart both engines and the ship is reportedly heading for Cagliari, Sardinia for further damage assessment and repairs. No major injuries have been reported although several passengers received bruises and scrapes from being thrown about during the period when the ship was without power.
The two incidents on sister ships, weeks apart, raises questions about how and where the ships are being operated by their new owners. The fact that both ships sailed without incident for seven years under Royal Olympic management, and now suddenly each is damaged by storms brings into question the itineraries the ship's are operating on. They were designed to operate on routes through the relatively calm eastern Mediterranean and Caribbean. The Explorer was clearly out of her element when damaged off the coast of Alaska but it is unclear why Voyager was unable to avoid the storm she encountered this morning.