Five Injured After MSC Ship Crashes into River Ship, Dock in Venice
UPDATE JUNE 4, 10:30 AM:
Uniworld's next six River Countess sailings have been canceled as the river ship undergoes repairs following the collision. The canceled itineraries are the "Gems of Northern Italy" on the following dates: June 7, 14, 21 and 28, and July 5 and 12, according to Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge. Sailings will resume with the July 21 Venice-Milan itnerary. Affected passengers will be offered rebooking options. None of the five injured passengers were hurt seriously during the crash.
UPDATE JUNE 3, 5 PM:
According to Travel Weekly, MSC Cruises has been given the go-ahead to begin repairs to MSC Opera, which will take place in Venice. Damage was limited to the outermost part of the hull, and the remainder of the current 7-night cruise which departed June 1 from Bari, Italy, has been canceled. Passengers will be refunded the entire cost of the cruise, and will be allowed to stay onboard while the ship remains in Venice, or can also choose to go home before the ship departs there. MSC will provide transportation assistance to those wanting to go home and, of course, cover the travel costs as well. For those remaining onboard, free shuttles will be provided to Piazza San Marco for sightseeing. As of right now, the ship is scheduled to depart Venice on June 7 if repairs go according to plan, and arrive back in Bari on June 8 in time for its next cruise.
The MSC Opera rammed into a river cruise ship and wharf in Venice, Italy Sunday, June 2, 2019, after reporting an engine issue. The 2,600-passenger ship, operated by MSC Cruises, struck the 130-passenger River Countess, operated by Uniworld, alongside the San Basilio Cruise Terminal around 8:30 a.m. local time.
Five passengers from the River Countess were transported to a local hospital with injuries and no crew members were injured, Uniworld said in a statement to Travel Agent Central. The accident occurred after most guests of the 130-passenger River Countess had disembarked.
According to BBC reports, the MSC Opera experienced an engine failure and the Captain has said all attempts were made to avoid impact, but "dropping two anchors was not enough because the engine was 'locked'," the BBC says. "We have activated all possible procedures to avoid impact," the Captain said, according to the BBC. "We put the tugboats in position to widen the gap [between the boat and the deck]," he said, adding that at some point cables attached to at least one tugboat had snapped.
Video posted to social media shows passengers running along the wharf as the MSC Opera, horn blaring, hurtles toward the River Countess, ultimately pushing it away from the dock upon impact.
Both ships were scheduled to end their cruises in Venice on Sunday. Uniworld has said that technical and nautical crisis response team members are en route to Venice to thoroughly evaluate River Countess and assess if this week's cruise can proceed. Guests currently arriving into Venice are under the care of the line, and have been provided with hotel accommodations, the line told Travel Agent Central.
MSC Opera is moored at the Marittima cruise terminal in Venice and has boarded passengers for the next cruise. MSC has not said if this week's cruise itinerary will be delayed or altered.
The crash comes as the Venice cruise industry is under increasing pressure from environmentalists and local residents. Activists say towering cruise ships are too large for Venice's fragile lagoon and Giudecca Canal and bring in millions of tourists, overwhelming the city.
"These cruise ships bring a huge, huge number of people concentrated into the city, and they've acted like kind of the icebreaker for the destruction of Venice through mass tourism," Jane Da Mosto, an environmental scientist who wants to ban cruise ships, told CBS News.
Venice's mayor Luigi Brugnaro said, "Once again it is shown that big ships cannot cross the Giudecca Canal," while Italy's transport minister, Danilo Toninelli, said the government is "close" to a solution to protect both the lagoon and tourism.
Originally published 11 am, June 3. Update added 5 pm, June 3 to include repair details. Update added 10:30 am, June 4 to include cancellation details.