Tugboats brought a Cunard luxury liner safely to shore Friday, after a collision with a coral reef ended a round-the-world cruise for the ship and 527, mostly American, passengers.
The Royal Viking Sun voyage was the second failed Cunard cruise for about 120 of the passengers, who had been aboard the MV Sagafjord in February when an engine room fire set it adrift in the South China Sea.
Passengers’ wait for rescue wasn’t as long this time. After the liner hit the reef Thursday night, it took two tugboats about 19 hours to tow the vessel to Egypt’s coast and bring all passengers ashore in the resort of Sharm el-Sheik.
Passengers and some of the 450 crew members described fear, but no panic, when the liner struck a reef in the Strait of Tiran between Egypt and Saudi Arabia at 10:10 p.m. Thursday. The accident came as many aboard watched an after-dinner show by passengers and crew.
“We felt a jolt, it was a terrible jolt,” said Geoff Edwards, a passenger from Palm Springs, Calif. “There were a bunch of people singing on stage and they all went down like dominoes. That’s how big a jolt it was.”
The crash tore a three-yard gash in the liner, which began taking on water and listing before pumps righted it. The accident left the 37,845-ton ship without electricity and its main engine power.
In London, Cunard spokesman William Spears said the rest of the cruise was canceled. The trip began in January in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and was to have ended there April 29.
Passengers were said to have paid up to $250,000 to make the full cruise in the liner’s penthouse suites.
The passengers were to spend the night in Sharm el-Sheik hotels and then be flown on charter jets today to London, Frankfurt or Cairo, Webb said.
The ship was headed for the adjacent ports of Aqaba, Jordan, and Eilat, Israel, when it struck the reef.