Cruise Ship Passengers: Panic, Chaos Onboard

ByABC News via logo
July 19, 2006, 8:50 AM

July 19, 2006— -- Passengers aboard a Crown Princess cruise ship that listed to the side Tuesday described a chaotic scene that left them feeling lucky to be alive.

"I thought we were going to die," said Martha Lynn George, one of about 3,100 passengers and 1,200 crew members on the ship. "I really thought this was it."

George, whose arm was in a sling, said she was in the buffet area with her husband when the incident occurred. She said her husband held on to the wall and grabbed her arm to keep her from going over the side, and she broke her collarbone.

"I would have gone through a big plate of glass that was over to the side," she said. "There was glass everywhere. People were flying everywhere. We saw the water go out of the pool that was next to us, and people were thrown out of the pool. We watched them being thrown out. There were so many people hurt. There was blood everywhere. There was glass everywhere."

Passengers on the ship were thrown into the ocean after a steering problem caused the ship to tilt 30 degrees to the left right after it departed from Florida's Port Canaveral on its way to New York. The Cape Canaveral Fire Rescue Department said that an adult and a child were critically injured, 12 people were seriously injured and 70 people sustained minor injuries.

"We deeply regret this incident, and are doing everything we can to make our passengers as comfortable as possible under these difficult circumstances," said Julie Benson, spokeswoman for Miami-based Carnival Corp., which owns Princess Cruises.

"Everything was crashing, sliding," said Steve Tibus, another passenger. "People were panicking and getting thrown all over. This was like the movie where the ship is starting to turn over."

Before leaving the port, the Crown Princess had just completed a nine-day Western Caribbean cruise and had begun sailing a month ago. When the incident occurred, the ship was making its fourth voyage. It remains docked in Florida.

Some passengers, including George, said the ship was already tilting before it left the dock.

"For two days, this boat was on a tilt," she said.