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Dawn departs after running aground on reef

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Land ahoy!: Norwegian Breakaway passengers are ferried to land yesterday from Grassy Bay, where the ship was forced to drop anchor instead of in the West End. Her delayed arrival in Dockyard was caused by the return of sister ship Norwegian Dawn, which lost power and ran aground in the North Channel as she headed for Boston on Tuesday night (Photo by Akil Simmons)

The Norwegian Dawn finally set off for Boston just before 2.30pm yesterday after her overnight adventure.

After a second hull inspection in the morning, the ship — which lost power and ran aground on the reefs on Tuesday night — was deemed seaworthy.

It is not yet known what caused the Dawn to lose steerage. The ship crashed into a channel marker before coming to a halt on the reefs.

Dean Bottomley, owner of First Division Maritime, was one of five divers called to carry out the initial hull inspection.

He described a moment of elation amid the worry and confusion when he and the team reached the ship.

He told The Royal Gazette: “It was really unique when we got there — you would have thought we won the parade or something.

“As soon as the passengers saw us in our dive suits they were going crazy, throwing us flowers and everybody was waving and saying, ‘wow they are here!’.

“We felt like superheroes. It is probably the most prestigious dive I have done.”

Mr Bottomley, with divers from Crisson Construction and Marine and Ports, dived to about 30ft at 8.30pm, just as it was getting dark, and could see very little because of sediments kicked up from the seabed.

“We saw nothing — the visibility was so bad it was like working with Braille,” he said. “We were going along the hull and feeling with our hands if there was any breach in the integrity.

“We didn’t find any major structural damage. One of the bow thrusters was blocked — it had picked up a chunk of coral inside so couldn’t be used. The thruster helps the maneuverability in tight quarters — they said that they would isolate that thruster.”

Divers were yesterday preparing to take underwater video of the hull as part of a second inspection.

Transportation staff yesterday had to ferry passengers from three ships that were in port — the Dawn, the Norwegian Breakaway and the Celebrity Summit.

Jerome Robinson, Wedco transport coordinator, was meeting with taxi and minibus drivers as passengers of the Dawn were disembarking early yesterday.

“It is going to be a very challenging and busy morning but we have five people on the ground — three transportation coordinators and two TCD officers — so hopefully with the five of us we can get through the day,” he said.

“The Dawn has got more than 2,600 passengers, the Summit has close to 3,000 passengers and the Breakaway has about 4,000. On top of that are about 3,000 crew members.

“The plan is the Breakaway will go to anchor at Grassy Bay and the Government tender, which can carry 750 passengers, is going to tender them from the ship to the GTA [ground transportation area].”

Extra Tourism Authority staff had been enlisted to help the Visitor Information Centre organise the tourists.

Passengers from the Dawn appeared to be in good spirits despite the ordeal.

Chris Debenedetto and Christine Bortnyk, from Boston, described how they could feel the ship shaking before it leaned to one side.

Ms Bortnyk said: “We could see the boat shift all the way to one side then all the way to another side, then we heard this screeching sound and the boat just stopped. It was a little scary. Some of the women on our floor were away with their husbands and had left their children at home. Some were saying, ‘I’m a mom! I want to get back to my children’. That was a little unnerving to hear.

“If there was any place to get stuck there’s no better place than Bermuda.”

Andrea Hansen and Greg Bejtlich, from North Hampshire, described a moment of panic before the captain made the announcement explaining what had happened. Ms Hansen said: “Some people were overreacting and grabbing life vests but it soon calmed down. The crew were deploying the little rafts to go and take a look at the ship.

“There was someone who was changing out of her bathing suit when her floor was evacuated and she only had shorts, a bikini and no shoes for the entire night, so she was a little bummed out.

“We were making jokes because last year we went on vacation in May and got into a car accident, so we are going to avoid vacations in May!”

Denise Perry, from Rhode Island, said: “I was having dinner and all of a sudden we felt a boom — you could feel something gravelly.

“The captain made the announcement that they had hit the reef and were going to be trying to figure out the damage because if there were any holes we weren’t going anywhere.”

Ms Perry joked that she “felt like I was on the Titanic”.

“Everything is back to normal, all the activities are scheduled as planned except the casino is closed because we are in port and the shops are not open,” she said.

A jovial Tom Pappas, from East Providence, said: “I just wanted to let my children know that everything was fine. It was an adventure and now we can write home about it.

“We’re in paradise and you can’t beat that with a stick.”

Norwegian Dawn passengers Christine Bortnyk and Chris Debenedetto (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Norwegian Dawn passenger Tom Pappas described the incident as an adventure (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Norwegian Dawn at Heritage Wharf on Wednesday morning (Photo by Akil Simmons)
The Celebrity Summit arrived on Wednesday morning on schedule at King's Wharf (Photo by Akil Simmons)
The Norwegian Breakaway was forced to dock in Grassy Bay this morning, to accommodate the stricken Norwegian Dawn, with tenders arriving to ferry passengers to shore
The Bermudian assisted in transporting Norwegian Breakaway passengers to Heritage Wharf after the cruise ship was forced to dock in Grassy Bay to accommodate the stricken Norwegian Dawn (Photo by Akil Simmons)
A ferry used to transport passengers from the Norwegian Breakaway, which had to berth off Dockyard (Photo by Akil Simmons)
The Bermudian assisted in transporting Norwegian Breakaway passengers to Heritage Wharf (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Norwegian Dawn Passengers were allowed ashore yesterday morning, but had to return to the ship by midday (Photo by Akil Simmons)