Ships Dip Suddenly

February 28, 2003
Passengers on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas and Carnival's Victory experienced sharp, sudden tiltings on recent voyages. In Radiance's case, the culprit for the sudden seven degree list on Wednesday, February 19, was a sea squall that passed over the ship as it was traveling toward St. Lucia one morning. The squall included wind gusts of 65 knots, coming from the port side, which then knocked the ship on its starboard side. It stabilized immediately though provided a most unusual wake-up call for some passengers and resulted in damages that mostly concerned glass breakage. In a nice touch, Radiance's captain not only immediately broadcast an announcement over the squawk-box from the bridge -- he also had the ship's television crew interview him on camera. The segment, which aired shipwide later that day, featured his in-depth insights on aero- and aqua-dynamics. Carnival's Victory also had a little excitement. On Monday, February 10, one of its stabilizer fins malfunctioned, causing a five degree roll. No damage or injuries were reported and the problem, according to a Carnival spokeswoman, has been fixed. In the interest of perspective, while seven - and five-degree rolls are dramatic on cruise ships, they are nowhere near any kind of danger zone. "In a manner of speaking," says Carnival's Jennifer de la Cruz, "listing goes on constantly. You just don't usually notice it."  According to Carnival Victory's captain: "the righting lever is the force that will upright the ship if any external force will list the ship on either side. Looking at the curve you can see that the ship has a positive righting lever up to 48 degrees. This means that up to 48 degrees the ship will still have the force to upright herself."  These numbers were taken from Carnival Victory's five degree list; the numbers vary based on numerous factors. Worst case scenario? A ship lying on its side would occur at 90 degrees.