Celebrity Holds Press Conference To Discuss Tragedy in Chile

March 23, 2006
(9:30 a.m.) -- In a brief press conference this morning, Celebrity President Dan Hanrahan and Dr. Mauricio Lynn, M.D., Medical Director of Trauma Resuscitation and Mass Casualty Intake Management at Jackson Memorial Hospital, addressed media regarding yesterday's tragic shore outing accident that claimed the lives of 12 passengers (and injured two others) sailing on Celebrity's Millennium in Arica, Chile.

Here are key points that haven't already been made in Cruise Critic's earlier stories on the tragic occurrence:

Hanrahan: "We're in the very early stages so responses will be brief, but we'll continue to provide you with updates. All of us at Celebrity Cruises are doing everything possible to assist guests and family members. We will share with you what we have been able to confirm at this point. Our primary focus remains with people touched in some way by this terrible event. I promise that I and all other managers of our team will remain personally involved."

Dr. Lynn provided an update on the condition of the two surviving passengers, who are still in a hospital in Arica. One guest was treated for a fractured leg; has stable vital signs; is awake, alert and speaking; and is being observed in ICU as a precaution. The second guest has a fractured hand and is also in ICU as a precaution. He will have more tests done to find out other possible injuries. Vital signs are stable. There is no word on the driver and tour guide, who also survived.

The victims were part of a group of 60 travelers traveling under the auspices of Bnai Brith. "We're consulting with a rabbi on how to best support the family," Hanrahan said, noting that the ship has held several meetings for the group, offered folks not involved in the accident the opportunity to leave the cruise if desired, and held a memorial service to honor the dead. He would not reveal where they were from, but Cruise Critic's intrepid members already have identified them as hailing from New Jersey.

Celebrity Cruises has chartered an airplane to transport an executive team from Miami; the plane will be used, upon arrival, for any need that has arisen from the accident, including to transport the dead back home.

Travel arrangements are already made for family members who wish to go to Arica, and most are on their way.

Yesterday's accident occurred on the trip's first port of call.

The ship stayed in port overnight and has only just left Arica for its next call, slated to be Lima, Peru, on Friday. Says Hanrahan, "We're going to be into Lima late tomorrow morning at this point." The ship's return home will not be delayed returning to Ft. Lauderdale on April 2.

Onboard, ship staffers last night opened phone lines and Internet for folks who want to contact families at home.

In response to a media question about the safety of travel operators in ports of call, Hanrahan responded that "what we cannot do is to tell guests what to do on their own time ... we encourage them to take our shore excursions." Having said that, he did note that Celebrity vets those operators it uses for its ship-sponsored day trips. "We validate safety records, required to have proper insurance and licensing, carry health kits, required to carry oxygen in places like this up high in the mountains, a bench that helps disabled guests get on and off."

We'll keep you posted.