Passengers aboard the P&O cruise ship that collided with an oil tanker off the coast of Spain are sharing chilling stories of being whipped into a state of hysteria — with one describing it as “panic stations.”
The Britannia has capacity to carry 3647 passengers, and it was “close to capacity” Sunday when a storm came brewing off the coast of Palma de Mallorca. Gale-force winds snapped the $601.9 million vessel’s mooring and propelled it into the tanker.
One unidentified Welsh woman who was on the ship with her partner and two children told WalesOnline that she was “bawling her eyes out” amid all the turmoil.
“We were docked overnight in Palma and the wind was so strong our anchors broke and we blew out into another ship,” she said.
Confused cruise-goers had at first been told they could leave their cabins, the woman said, only to discover there were no activities available on the ship — and all of the crew onboard were wearing life jackets and preparing for an emergency.
“We were up browsing on our phones in bed and heard the big horn after the bang. It was panic stations, I was bawling my eyes out,” she told the outlet. “We went out onto our balcony and could see debris in the ocean and all the damage to the side of the boat and our lifeboat. The captain said: ‘Everyone to their muster stations, this is not a drill.’”
Soon the passengers “were running around looking panicked,” she added. “Then they came around again and said everyone needs to get back to their cabins. We’re still none the wiser. I can’t see how they’ll be able to sail it again after this.”
Another family on board reported hearing a loud bang and seeing falling debris floating in the water before the captain advised them to stay in their cabins and warned, “This is not a drill!”
Passenger Ricky Stubbs said he and his children were about to disembark at the time of the crash.
“We were at the stairwell next to the sunset bar,” he told the Guardian. “A loud crash came from the bar and the door flung open with people running in. Within seconds there was more crashing followed by chaos as people were trying to escape the onslaught of wind and rain.”
Stubbs continued, “People were being ushered in by other guests and staff. You could clearly see some had injuries due to either falling over or debris flying around, and people were distraught.”
Another passenger named Mark Beckwith told WalesOnline that the captain did “an amazingly calm job” with the crew onboard.
“It’s very calm and relaxed onboard now and we are just redocking to collect the passengers whom were off the ship for the duration of the incident,” he said.
The Brittanica left Southampton on Aug. 18 to set sail for the Mediterranean, with stops in Cadiz and Ibiza, and was supposed to leave Mallorca on Sunday afternoon.
“On Sunday, August 27, P&O Cruises Britannia was involved in a weather-related incident while alongside in Palma de Mallorca. A small number of individuals sustained minor injuries and are being cared for by the onboard medical centre. To allow our technical teams to make an assessment Britannia will remain alongside in Palma de Mallorca tonight with onboard entertainment and activities scheduled,” a spokesperson for P&O Cruises said in a statement.