The North Sea and North Atlantic Ocean can be dangerous in November as violent autumn storms regularly pass through the area. One Fred Olsen cruise ship experienced that firsthand this week as the ship got caught in a force 11 gale.
The Balmoral was making her way back to the United Kingdom from Norway when the vessel experienced force 11 winds and a sea state of 8, which means waves between 9 to 14 meters (30 to 46 ft). Several cabins were damaged during the storm; several guests were also injured.
Balmoral Cruise Ship Damaged During Violent November Storm
Although Norway is a beautiful place to be during this time of the year, with views of the Northern Lights being one of the major draws, it does mean sailing one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world at this time of the year.
Storms pass through the North Atlantic and the North Sea at regular intervals at this time of the year, as the cruise ship Balmoral experienced this week.
The vessel had just concluded a 14-night Northern Lights cruise to Norway, during which she visited the ports of Alesund, Narvik, Alta, Tromso, and Molde, Norway. While transiting between Molde and Dover in the UK, the last port of the itinerary before arriving back in Southampton, the cruise ship was caught in a force 11 storm.
The powerful storm triggered windspeeds exceeding 50 knots continuously and wave heights of 9 to 14 meters. Several online videos show the ship moving significantly while waves tower over the ship and wash over the windows.
In a statement posted online on November 17, Fred Olsen Cruise Line, which operates the ship, said the following:
“Earlier today, while sailing back from Norway, Balmoral was caught in some exceptional weather conditions in the North Sea. During this time, she encountered some significant waves which led to the damage of a small number of cabins on board.”
“We remain in regular contact with the Captain and Officers on Balmoral and would like to reassure you that our crew is taking great care of everyone on board.”
Captain and Crew Handled a Difficult Situation Well
During the violent storm, several cabins were damaged, and several guests reported injuries ranging from sprains to broken bones. One guest sustained significant injuries and was transported to the hospital upon arrival in Dover, UK.
Several guests who were onboard the vessel at the time commented on how well the Captain and crew handled the challenging situation. One lady said the following:
“We are currently on Balmoral and would like to thank the Captain and all the crew for their continued professionalism and care for all the guests under very difficult circumstances.”
Another guest said the same, although there were some doubts about why the ship sailed through a storm that was forecasted to be severe:
I’m on board Balmoral at present. Yesterday and today, the weather conditions have been atrocious, with waves up to 9 metres high and winds up to Force 10 to 11. The staff have been excellent in supporting the passengers with the pitching and rolling on board, but the storm was forecast before we left our last port of call, and we sailed right into it.”
Balmoral arrived in Dover yesterday at lunchtime. Due to the storm, the vessel arrived much later than scheduled. Fred Olsen decided not to sail Balmoral to her home port of Southampton. Instead, the cruise line deployed busses to ferry guests back to Southampton and bring guests on the following cruise to Dover.