The P&O Cruises ship Ventura has successfully rescued three sailors from a damaged yacht, bringing the stranded individuals aboard safely. The incident occurred on Monday, March 20, 2023, while the cruise ship was en route to New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of a 35-night sailing.
P&O Cruises Ventura Rescue
The Grand-class Ventura was enjoying time at sea in the Gulf of Mexico between Belize City and New Orleans when the sailing yacht was first sighted. Initially, there was no distress and the cruise ship passed the yacht safely, but later received a distress call and turned to relocate the vessel and render aid.
The weather was somewhat rough, including choppy waves and swells, and the yacht’s rigging and engine had failed making steering impossible. Three sailors were aboard, two women and one elderly man.
The P&O Cruises ship approached the yacht’s port side to attempt to break the wind and make rescue operations safer. The elderly man was taken aboard first, followed by the two women as the yacht’s mast began to collapse and hit the side of the cruise ship, causing additional safety concerns.
The three rescued sailors were given medical attention, food, and water aboard the ship, as is customary with any at-sea rescue. All three are reported well. The yacht was left adrift, though local authorities would have been notified of its position as a potential sailing hazard.
Such rescues, while not frequent, are not unheard of in the Caribbean, where generally calm waters can suddenly become rough and challenging, especially for smaller watercraft.
Ventura’s 35-Night Voyage
At the time of the rescue, Ventura was sailing a 35-night roundtrip Caribbean and USA itinerary from Southampton, England, which began on Thursday, March 2, 2023.
Only halfway through the trip, the ship has now already visited ports in seven different countries: Spain, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, and the United States.
The 116,017-gross-ton ship still has three more ports of call after leaving its overnight stay in New Orleans. On Saturday, March 25, the ship will visit Miami, followed by Port Canaveral (Orlando) the next day.
Ventura will then recross the Atlantic Ocean and stop in the Azores of Portugal before returning to Southampton on Thursday, April 6.
The ship, which is homeported in Southampton, will then be offering a variety of shorter roundtrip cruises ranging from 4-14 days. Itineraries include explorations of the Canary Islands, “short break” cruises to Amsterdam, and Western Europe voyages stopping in Spain, Portugal, France, and the UK, depending on the cruise length.
While all cruise ships are bound by maritime law to render aid to any vessel in distress, whether it is a sailing yacht, makeshift raft, rowboat, freighter, fishing boat, or other craft, Ventura has actually had to call for aid itself.
In late 2019, the ship suffered engine failure and issued a mayday as it fell adrift northeast of the Canary Islands. Several tugboats assisted and brought the ships safely back into port, with no passengers ever in danger. The following cruise was cancelled so complete repairs could be made.
In a less life-concerning incident, the ship needed to dispatch lifeboats during a June 2022 embarkation after a full cage of luggage was inadvertently dropped overboard, much to the dismay of passengers. Unfortunately, not all the soggy bags were able to be retrieved.
Ventura debuted in 2008 and was most recently refurbished just weeks ago, in February 2023 with minor updates and renovations. The ship can welcome 3,192 passengers at double occupancy, and as many as 3,597 guests when fully booked with all berths filled.