Strong Winds Cause Diamond Princess Docking Drama

May 24, 2004

Even though Princess Cruises' Diamond Princess is the fleet's largest ship, she was still no match to the harsh weather -- and rumors -- that blew through Victoria, British Columbia last Friday (May 21).

As the ship was maneuvering into the dock at Victoria, strong winds pushed her into a smaller pier. Witnesses at the Victoria terminal reported hearing loud "scraping and crashing sounds" when the Diamond Princess hit the pier, according to news reports. The mishap resulted in some scrapes in the ship's starboard side and some damage to the starboard propellor (its tips were bent, which affects speed), but no significant hull damage, according to a Princess spokesperson.

Still, Internet bulletin boards have been abuzz all weekend with exaggerated gossip about the seriousness of the accident -- no doubt fueled by the fact that ambulances were spotted taking some Diamond Princess passengers away from the Victoria pier. However, the ambulances had been called in advance to carry away sick passengers, and our sources affirm they had nothing to do with the incident.

And the drama didn't end there -- the nasty winds at Victoria did not subside until early the next morning (May 22), so Diamond Princess was late leaving Victoria, and also arrived late to its home port of Seattle (where new passengers were waiting to embark). Because of this, the vessel did not set sail on time for this week's Inside Passage sailing, and will miss its normal stops at Juneau and Victoria.

Travelers booked on the May 22 sailing will be compensated for the inconvenience with a $500 onboard credit, according to Princess; a group of passengers in Seattle declined to board the ship, and were given a refund. The damage to the ship's propellor has been repaired, and Princess does not expect future itineraries to be impacted.

The 110,00 ton, 2,670-passenger Diamond Princess is one of three Grand Class ships introduced by Princess in 2004 (Caribbean Princess launched in April, and Sapphire Princess' maiden voyage is scheduled for June 13). The ship was built at the Mitsubishi Shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan, and was inaugurated there this past February.