Coast Guard Stops Carnival's Runaway Ecstasy

February 14, 2006
Folks housed onboard Carnival's Ecstasy, which has been on charter to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency and moored to a dock in New Orleans for months, got an unexpected cruise on Saturday when the ship broke free during high winds.

The incident occurred at 5:50 a.m. as a weather front passed through, and one of the bollards to which Ecstasy was moored gave way. This set off a chain reaction of breaking lines that ultimately set the ship adrift.

The ship actually made it about a mile down the Mississippi before the captain and crew -- and a river pilot who jumped onboard to help -- were able to engage the ship's thrusters and drop anchor. In the meantime, the U.S. Coast Guard warned mariners to stay away. There were no injuries to passengers -- many of whom were New Orleans police officers, fire fighters and emergency responders -- or crew, and Ecstasy returned to the Poland Street Wharf, aided by the U.S. Coast Guard and the assistance of tug boats and river pilots.

"This is the first time I can ever recall something of this nature happening," commented Carnival spokesperson Jennifer de la Cruz. "For a bollard to break free from a pier is pretty much unheard of. Fortunately, based on the quick actions of a number of people, no one was injured and there was no damage to the vessel."

Despite the fact that (otherwise) Carnival Ecstasy has been stationary for months on end, the ship is staffed by its usual requirement of senior officers, including the captain, as it's still sitting on water.