JUNE 29, 2015 — Though one passenger reportedly said the experience was "like being on the Titanic," video shows that a collision between the elderly cruise ship Celestyal Crystal and a 38,734 dwt Scorpio Tankers owned chemical products tanker was less serious than that.
Still, reports are emerging that suggest passengers on the cruise may have had a narrow escape. Reports are emerging that indicate that in the incident which happened Saturday off the coast of Gallipoli, Turkey, the tanker suffered an explosion in one of its cargo tankers and was subsequently leaking naphtha into the atmosphere.
SeaNews Turkey reports that VHF recordings have been leaked in which a VTS operator is heard giving the cruise ship repeated warnings and instructions to change course.
The cruise passengers were disembarked at the port of Gelibolu, Turkey, and Cyprus based Celestyal Cruises issued a statement saying that the incident had occurred Saturday June 27 at around 1:28 am local time when the Maltese flagged MV Celestyal Crystal had a collision with the Marshall Islands flagged tanker STI Pimlico.
"All 852 passengers and the 382 members of crew are well and so are the crew members of the tanker," said the statement. The cruise ship has only suffered some structural damages and awaits inspection from its class surveyor.
"This entails that the said damages must be repaired before the ship can continue with its scheduled cruise itineraries. With the safety and care of our passengers as our utmost priority, we will ensure the smoothest possible disembarkation for those on board since the current cruise will have to be canceled."
Celestyal Cruises said that as "a gesture of goodwill … Celestyal Cruises will be refunding their cruise fare and shall also be offering a complimentary 7 day cruise, valid until the end 2016. Naturally, this will not be applicable to those who would be ending their cruise in Istanbul."
The Celestyal Crystal is a cruise ship with a long and somewhat checkered history that includes being destroyed by fire and a sinking.
She was originally built as the cruise ferry MS Viking Saga Finland's Wärtsilä Turku New Shipyard, Finland for Rederi Ab Sally. In 1986 she was renamed MS Sally Albatross, and rebuilt into a cruise ship the following year. The ship was destroyed by a fire in 1990, and completely rebuilt at Finnyards, Rauma, Finland and was redelivered in 1992, still named Sally Albatross. After partially sinking in 1994 she was rebuilt at Industrie Navali Maccaniche Affini, La Spezia, Italy, and reentered service as MS Leeward for Norwegian Cruise Line. Subsequently she sailed as MS SuperStar Taurus for Star Cruises, MS Silja Opera for Silja Line and then spent a year laid up as MS Opera prior to entering service with her current owner in 2007.