Update: Brilliance Arrives in Barcelona, Ending Nightmare Cruise

December 17, 2010

Video: Royal Caribbean's Captain Wright Talks Brilliance

Update, December 17, 10 a.m.: According to Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez, Brilliance of the Seas concluded its cruise in Barcelona at 6 a.m. this morning. The next cruise is scheduled to leave on schedule at 6 p.m. (local time) today. Said Martinez: "Most of the aesthetic damages to the ship's interior have been repaired and no public venues will be closed during the next sailing." When asked what repairs remain to be done, Martinez added that she was told that "most boarding guests will not notice any difference to the ship."

An RCI spokeswoman also told industry publication Seatrade Insider that 105 passengers reported to the shipboard infirmary after the listing incident. It was first reported that 30 passengers were injured; the number then climbed to 60.

(December 14, 10 a.m. EST) -- The nearly 2,060 Brilliance of the Seas passengers who endured a horrifying early morning in the Mediterranean won't be paying a dime for the experience.

"The captain announced a full refund for all guests as a result of the 'unfortunate incident' of two days ago," posted Cruise Critic member Lifelong Cruiser on Monday. Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez confirmed the statement, and an official release from the line acknowledged that passengers and crew had been through a "frightening experience."

The line had initially doled out $200 in onboard credit ($400 for those in suites) -- a level of compensation that had angered many and resulted in "at least one guest letter circulating that criticized the 'nominal' amount," noted Lifelong Cruiser.

On Sunday morning, Brilliance ran into rough weather en route to Alexandria, Egypt. In the early a.m. hours, large waves and heavy winds caused the ship to list several times, injuring about 60 passengers, sending beds sliding across cabins, shattering glass elevators and leaving the dining room and other public areas strewn with damaged furniture. According to a Royal Caribbean statement, aesthetic damage to the ship's interior has caused the closure of three public venues -- the beauty salon, video arcade and disco -- for the remainder of the sailing. The statement also noted that the most serious of the injuries were fractures suffered by two passengers.

Despite the dangerous lists, Royal Caribbean said that there has been no impact to Brilliance's operating systems or engines, and it continues to be fully seaworthy. The ship arrived in its next port of call, Malta, at roughly 7 a.m. local time on Tuesday. It will overnight in Malta and then head for Barcelona, Spain, where it will conclude the voyage on Friday as originally scheduled.

According to the line, repairs are underway, and subsequent cruises will not be impacted. The next cruise is set to depart on December 17.

Cruise Critic members on the ill-fated voyage have been chronicling the ordeal on the message boards.

"Bed surfing, what an experience," posted Cruise Critic member sochie. Member Lifelong Cruiser was also in his cabin when the ship listed. "The closet door in our balcony cabin ripped from its hinges and flew across the room," he wrote. "The king bed slid across the cabin as if on wheels ... The bed ended up perpendicular to where it started ... My wife narrowly missed being hit by the airborne closet door, which weighs 50+ pounds."

"[The] Gym is in shambles -- ellipticals looked like monkey bars; spin bikes everywhere," wrote dirtgirl after surveying the scene on Sunday.

Member jimbo5544, whose son and daughter-in-law are celebrating their honeymoon onboard, posted additional details. "They said all computers had smashed in Internet cafe and Grand piano smashed into wall. Much broken glass all over ship."

Others are wondering how such a harrowing event could have taken place. "The captain admitted in his first address within 30 minutes of the incident that a 'mistake' had been made by slowing down in harbor traffic, causing the stabilizers to disengage," posted Lifelong Cruiser. "[He] described the incident as a 'mistake' more than once."

"The speed for that part of the voyage is a slow-speed leg," said Martinez, when asked about the captain's comments. "When the ship encountered the severe weather, it caused the ship to slow down even more. As you may know, the stabilizers are not engaged at slow speeds."

Thoughts on the new compensation or anything related to the incident? Weigh in here.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor

--Image courtesy of NBC Nightly News