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Eye Witnesses Differ on Whether the Silver Shadow Cruise Ship’s Recent Collision Was Actually as “Minor” as Reported

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March 29, 2012 – Feedback continues to surface from passengers who were aboard the Silver Shadow luxury cruise liner after it recently collided with a container ship five miles off the Vietnamese coast. Although no major injuries have been reported so far, several of the passengers who observed the collision and its aftermath felt that owner Silversea Cruises’ reference to the collision as a “minor incident” of “contact between the Silver Shadow and a local commercial vessel”—as the cruise ship accident has been reported in the media—was really an understatement.

Dense fog that morning set conditions for the event. The Silver Shadow had been sounding its aft fog horns repeatedly for quite some time as it was moving through the waters off the coast of Vietnam on the morning of March 16, when the bow’s foghorn suddenly blared in short and frequent bursts, signaling the onset of imminent danger.

Based on first-hand accounts from passengers, the Vietnamese container ship came out of nowhere and was suddenly broadside to the cruise ship’s bow, where it was struck within a matter of seconds. The container ship rolled over but did not capsize, and actually righted itself as it was moved by the passing cruise liner.

Passenger Andrew Lock, interviewed by CNN, said that he and his wife saw that the container ship was damaged. After the initial impact, Lock reported that the forward momentum of the Silver Shadow “pushed the Vietnamese ship around, so that it actually came down the side, the length of our ship, scraping along the side as it went. And from that viewpoint, we could see just how much damage had been done to that [container] ship.”

Lock said he wasn’t aware of any injuries aboard the luxury vessel, which had a hole dug into its bow, but said the other vessel was badly damaged. “We struck the other ship in several places that we could see—we struck it at the bridge, where they would operate from,” Lock said. “We literally crushed the ship inwards. And we also struck the sides of the ship, causing a tear along the side, a vertical tear, quite substantial. And as we passed by the other ship, I personally saw several of their crew members just lying on the deck.”

Lock disputed the cruise line’s characterization of the incident: “It was a major collision.”

With stories of the recent Costa Concordia tragedy fresh in their memories, the passengers’ fear for their personal safety immediately after the incident was at fever pitch. Although the Silver Shadow’s crew reportedly remained calm, another passenger, Deanna Kratzenberg, said that she and her husband did not receive instructions from the crew about what to do following the collision. “There was confusion in the hallways as passengers tried to figure out what had happened and whether they were safe,” she said. “There was a lot of fear. The people around me were crying…For quite some minutes there was nothing to indicate what the crew were [doing] or what [we should] do.” In Lock’s opinion some of the passengers were “even frantic.”

Andrew Lock told CNN that about 10 minutes after the incident, the captain announced that there was no imminent danger. Deanna Kratzenberg’s attempts to get an explanation as to how this could have happened were met by cool responses. She says cruise employees repeatedly answered by saying that the cruise ship “had the right of way,” and any further attempt to ask additional questions resulted in the cruise staffers walking away. Although Kratzenberg characterized this as arrogance, it’s likely that the crew were under strict orders to say nothing more, pending Silversea’s full investigation of the incident.

Based in Monaco, with its Americas headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Silverseas Cruises is a highly rated “traditional luxury” cruise line, known for its flawless service, authentic gourmet cuisine, and exotic destinations.