Steering Problem Halts Cruise Ship off South America

February 10, 2014
Allure of the Seas (9:30 a.m. EST) -- A Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines ship spent a day anchored off Chile following a mechanical problem with the vessel's steering.

The 28,613-ton, 804-passenger Black Watch, which is on a world cruise, was forced to stop east of the Isla Picton area yesterday morning (Sunday, February 9). The ship dropped anchor while the issue was resolved and set sail again at 11 p.m., local time.

Today the ship was heading up the Chilean coast at an average speed of 15.1 knots bound for Valparaiso, Chile, according to Fred. Olsen's website. As a result of the problem Black Watch had to abandon a scheduled trip around Cape Horn and is now due to arrive in Valparaiso on Saturday, February 15.

Black Watch is on a 114-night "South American & World Voyage" cruise, which set sail from Southampton on January 14. There are 689 passengers onboard, 577 of whom are British. Fred. Olsen sails from 10 ports around the U.K. and predominantly caters to the British market.

In statement, a Fred. Olsen spokeswoman said the ship anchored following a "technical issue with the steering gear."

"It was necessary to anchor the ship in order to investigate the problem," she said. "All the relevant authorities and port agent were informed of the need to anchor the ship in order to make the necessary investigations, and guests were kept updated on developments throughout the day. Every effort will be made to maintain the ship's original itinerary as closely as possible."

It is the second incident to affect the cruise. On January 30, the company confirmed that a passenger died after falling overboard in rough seas after the ship left Rio de Janeiro. An investigation has been launched into the death.

--by Jeannine Williamson, Cruise Critic Contributor