PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — A steering problem caused a cruise ship to roll abruptly to the left Tuesday, injuring some passengers and terrifying many, Coast Guard officials and passengers said.
The Crown Princess, which can accommodate 3,000 passengers, had just departed Port Canaveral en route to New York when it listed badly to its port side, said Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer James Judge.
The 113,000-ton ship began sailing a month ago. Judge did not know the number of people injured or how badly they were hurt.
“There were people running for life jackets, and then afterward a lot of people hugging and crying, people looking for children,” Carol O’Connell told NBC’s Miami affiliate, WTVJ-TV, by phone. “The captain sounded so terrified, which led to my feeling of more panic.” O’Connell said she saw flooding, tables overturned and broken glass everywhere.
The cruise ship was returning to port and was to be met by Coast Guard officials and medical personnel, Judge said.
Princess Cruises, one of 12 brands operated by Miami-based Carnival Corp., said the ship was safe. The company said it was investigating the cause of the incident.
“We’re coming back to the port so some of the passengers can receive some additional medical attention,” spokeswoman Julie Benson said.
Before leaving Port Canaveral, the ship has just completed a nine-day Western Caribbean cruise, she said.an Julie Benson said.
A cruise ship listed sharply off Port Canaveral, Florida, injuring at least 37 passengers, one critically, according to the Cape Canaveral Fire Department.
Two victims were airlifted to local hospitals, according to paramedics that the Coast Guard transported to the ship as it returned to port. Ten ambulances, three helicopters, four buses and mass-casualty trailers were awaiting its return from the Atlantic Ocean.
Paramedics at the port said they were prepared to care for up to 100 passengers.
The critically injured passenger was a child. The child and one parent will be taken by helicopter to either Orlando or Melbourne, said Brevard County emergency management spokesman Bob Lay.
At least six passengers were seriously injured, the Cape Canaveral Fire Department said.
Rosalyn Postel, spokeswoman for port, said some passengers suffered broken bones, but she did not know the extent of other injuries. Princess Cruise Lines, which operates the Crown Princess, said in a statement that there were “numerous reports” of cuts, bruises and fractures.