Cruise Ship Delayed in U.K.: What Was Found During Inspection?

May 11, 2010

Did you know that, like airplane pilots, cruise ship captains and other high-ranking crewmembers are required to get a certain amount of rest? Silversea's Prince Albert II was detained at the port of Portsmouth in Hampshire for four hours on Monday after a regular inspection uncovered two areas of concern -- overloading and the recording of hours of rest for senior officers.

A statement posted yesterday from the U.K.'s Maritime & Coastguard Agency, which carried out the inspection, said "The MCA has a zero tolerance on crew fatigue, it is of grave concern that senior officers onboard are seemingly not getting sufficient rest ... the ship will be detained until we are confident they have met the measures put in place to rectify these problems."

The ship was supposed to depart at 8 p.m. but instead departed at midnight, after ship workers offloaded excess provisions -- and the MCA determined that poor bookkeeping was to blame for suspicions of crew fatigue. The officers were rested; unfortunately, according to Silversea spokesman Brad Ball, certain rest periods were incorrectly documented in onboard records.

"Even as an administrative matter," Ball tells Cruise Critic today, "we take this issue seriously and will work to ensure that procedures are examined in this area."

There is no impact to the itinerary due to the delay.

So, how much rest is required? Guidelines from the International Maritime Organization, which oversees maritime safety and pollution, and the International Labour Organization state the following: maximum hours of work shall not exceed 14 hours in any 24-hour period and 72 hours in any seven-day period; minimum hours of rest shall not be less than 10 hours in any 24-hour period and 77 hours in any seven-day period.

The guidelines further state: "Hours of rest may be divided into no more than two periods, one of which shall be at least six hours in length, and the interval between consecutive periods of rest shall not exceed 14."

--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor