Guests aboard Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Discovery had a tumultuous end to their 14-night sailing with weather so rough that approximately 100 passengers sustained injuries.
While the majority of the injuries are minor and did not require extensive treatment, several guests were transferred to the hospital once the ship was able to dock in the evening of Monday, November 6.
Spirit of Discovery Endures Storm
Spirit of Discovery was sailing a 14-night “Canary Island Quintet” itinerary roundtrip from Portsmouth, UK when severe weather in the Bay of Biscay off the coast of France threatened to cut short the cruise in its last days. The voyage had begun on Tuesday, October 24, 2023.
The ship had already called on several ports in the Canary Islands and was en route to Grand Canaria – the last port of call in the Spanish archipelago – when the decision was made to cancel that port visit and head directly for La Coruna, Spain in order to take shelter to avoid the worsening weather.
Unfortunately, La Coruna was closed to marine traffic before the ship could arrive, and the cruise ship needed to remain at sea instead. Widespread strong winds and rough seas did not spare the vessel and Spirit of Discovery was subject to frightening conditions for those onboard, though the ship did remain structurally and operationally safe at all times.
In the vicinity of the cruise ship, wind gusts were reported at nearly 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour) at times.
The unsteady conditions persisted for approximately 18 hours and the ship was unable to seek alternative ports because of the extent of the rough weather.
During the height of the storm, guests were asked to remain secure in their staterooms and meals were delivered rather than having people moving about the vessel in such uncertain conditions.
According to local media reports, approximately 100 people were injured, with five passengers seeking treatment in the ship’s onboard medical center with eventual transport to local hospitals once the ship returned to Portsmouth.
Spirit of Discovery is the first new-build ship for Saga Cruises and entered service in 2019. The 58,119-gross-ton ship can welcome just 999 guests per sailing, and also has just over 500 international crew members onboard.
Cruise Line Reacts
A statement from a Saga Cruises spokesperson, issued after the rough weather subsided and the ship was en route back to Portsmouth, read:
“Spirit of Discovery was sadly caught in the challenging weather conditions this weekend, as she started her return to the UK. The ship remained safe at all times, but due to the impact of the storm some guests sustained injuries. All were treated immediately by onboard medical staff.
While the weather is clearly beyond our control, we want to offer our sincere apologies to all those affected who are now safely on their way home in calmer seas.”
Due to the extreme weather, the cruise was cut short slightly, with Spirit of Discovery returning to Portsmouth on Monday, November 6, rather than on Tuesday, November 7. This permitted the injured guests to be debarked early to seek additional medical attention.
The cruise line has assured guests that some form of compensation will be forthcoming, though the exact details have not yet been confirmed. Such compensation could be in the form of partial refunds, future cruise credits, or some other option.
Poor weather can impact any cruise sailing in any part of the world at any time of year. Cruise guests should always be prepared for possible delays or itinerary changes, and should always heed the recommendations of the ship’s crew if they are requested to remain in their staterooms, avoid stairways, keep off the open decks, or take other precautions in rough weather.