Miami Plane Crash Still Traps Cruise Ships

December 20, 2005

The tragic crash yesterday afternoon of a seaplane in Government Cut, the passage through which cruise ships travel from berths at the Port of Miami to the open Atlantic, has delayed three vessels from departing.

As of 9 a.m., the U.S. Coast Guard has called off the search for the 20th passenger and hopes to raise the fuselage -- and dig out the black box -- sometime today.

At this point there's still no word as to when the vessels will be able to depart. No ships were expected to arrive today so there are no contingencies in that respect.

Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas, and Carnival's Imagination and Fascination, are the ships facing delayed departures. A source at the United States Coast Guard told Cruise Critic last night that there's no word yet on when ships will be permitted to leave -- the aircraft has sunk and needs to be retrieved, wreckage and personal effects floats in the passage, and the National Transportation Safety Board is beginning an investigation. The term he used is that the port is "closed indefinitely" but could not be more specific about whether the channel would be reopened later tonight -- or some other day.

Twenty people were aboard the Chalk's Ocean Airways flight from Miami to the Bahamas' Bimini when, on take-off, there were sounds of an explosion. The propeller plane crashed into the narrow channel of Government Cut at about 2:30 p.m. All but one passenger on the plane has been found -- and none of the 19 survived.

At this point, spokespeople from Royal Caribbean and Carnival have no other information on when their ships will depart. We'll keep you posted.