Lifeboat Lost During Maintenance on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

A lifeboat was lost overboard from Navigator of the Seas during ship drills and maintenance, with a possible fuel spill but no injuries.

While Royal Caribbean International’s Navigator of the Seas was docked in port on Monday, May 22, 2023, the ship conducted maintenance on the lifeboats. Unfortunately, one of the port side lifeboats detached from the vessel and fell into the water, upside down.

What appears to be severe damage was noted on the lifeboat, as well as possible damage to the ship itself, but the cruise itinerary was not impacted and Navigator of the Seas has continued on its 7-night cruise along the Mexican Riviera.

Lifeboat Damaged During Maintenance

One of Navigator of the Seas‘ lifeboats was inadvertently damaged and dropped overboard during safety system maintenance on May 22. At the time, the ship was docked in Mazatlan, Mexico, during a 7-night sailing that had already called on Cabo San Lucas the day before.

Guests onboard the ship reported hearing the “oscar oscar oscar” alert called at the time, which indicates an overboard situation. It is unknown whether the alert call was made as part of a planned drill or as a reaction to the lifeboat falling into the water, possibly with crew members aboard for the maintenance or safety drill.

The lifeboat was floating completely upside down in the water (verifying that these boats can indeed float when fully flooded), but later updates and ship announcements confirmed there were no injuries.

Photos show significant damage to the lifeboat, including the aft section where the lifeboat’s engine is located.

Discoloration in the nearby water also indicated that some fuel may have leaked as a result of the damage. Containment lines were deployed around the damaged lifeboat to help mitigate any environmental contamination.

How the lifeboat came loose is unknown at this time, but photos show some pieces of rubber bumpers still fastened to the overturned lifeboat, which could indicate it had either been stored or in the process of being secured when it came loose.

There also appear to be pieces of debris floating in the water near the lifeboat, which would be possible if it had come loose and struck the ship’s railing as it fell. It is possible, however, the loose material could be oars from the lifeboat or pieces of the boat’s structure that detached as it fell or when it impacted the water.

Navigator of the Seas
Navigator of the Seas (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock)

Navigator of the Seas‘ itinerary was not impacted by the incident, and the ship left Mazatlan on time Monday evening. On Tuesday, May 23, the ship is visiting Puerto Vallarta, after which it will have two days at sea before returning to Long Beach, California on Friday, May 26.

Guests sailing aboard Navigator of the Seas in the coming weeks should rest assured that all cruise ships carry more than enough lifeboats for all passengers and crew members, even if a lifeboat is unable to be used or the ship is sailing full or even over 100% capacity with extra berths filled with third and fourth stateroom guests.

At double occupancy, Navigator of the Seas can welcome 3,388 guests, while the ship can accommodate 3,968 passengers when fully booked. A crew of 1,232 team members is also aboard.

Similar to Previous Incident

The loss of a lifeboat from Navigator of the Seas is startlingly similar to an incident on Quantum of the Seas on December 2, 2022, when a lifeboat detached from its davits and fell into the water, aft-first.

While the two cruise ships are from different classes and ages – Navigator of the Seas is Voyager class and debuted in 2002, while Quantum of the Seas is Quantum class and joined the fleet in 2014 – the lifeboats may be very similar in design and operation.

Two separate but similar incidents just months apart may indicate a broader problem, and Royal Caribbean International is sure to review safety and maintenance procedures to ensure all lifeboats are properly secured, maintained, and inspected to exacting standards.

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