Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess collided with the pier in San Francisco while docking early on Thursday morning, July 6, 2023, at the end of a 10-night Alaska cruise. Damage above the ship’s waterline is currently being assessed, but no injuries have been reported from the incident.
Ruby Princess Collides With Pier
The Crown-class Ruby Princess collided with Pier 27 in San Francisco while returning from a 10-night Alaskan cruise. The incident happened in the early morning hours at approximately 6:05 a.m. local time as the ship was docking prior to debarkation, and passengers onboard felt a hard, abrupt jarring when the impact occurred.
Princess Cruises has described the impact as “unexpected contact” and a full assessment is currently underway.
Visible damage above the waterline was noted on the ship, including buckled hull plates at the aft port corner as well as scuff marks on the hull.
At the time of the incident, 3,328 guests were aboard the vessel, wrapping up a 10-night Alaskan cruise that departed from San Francisco on Monday, June 26, 2023 and had visited Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, and Prince Rupert before returning to San Francisco this morning.
It is possible the next cruise, also scheduled as a 10-night Alaskan cruise but with a slightly different itinerary that includes Sitka but will not be calling on Skagway, may be delayed if extensive repairs are necessary. The ship is scheduled to leave San Francisco at 4 p.m.
The US Coast Guard and Princess Cruises maintenance and engineering team members are inspecting the vessel. They will determine the full extent of the damage as well as any critical repairs and whether or not work can safely be completed while the ship is underway.
No guests or crew members were injured in the collision, and no operational systems were damaged.
Strong Currents May Have Contributed
While a full investigation into the incident will take time, some preliminary reports indicate that the ship’s pilot may have been attempting the docking while at maximum current recommendations.
This can make docking conditions extremely challenging, especially if currents shift unexpectedly or there are other factors in play, such as strong winds, poor visibility, or other difficulties.
The dock was also damaged in the impact and will require repair, the extent of which is still being determined.
Collisions Not Unheard Of
Collisions with docking piers are not common incidents, but they do happen even with experienced pilots and helmsmen aboard, either at homeports or while docking in ports of call.
In May 2022, for example, Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas backed into a dock extension in Falmouth, Jamaica, collapsing part of the structure and denting the ship’s hull.
That incident was determined to have been caused by poor communication that resulted in pilot error. The ship was repaired within hours and able to continue sailing without significant delay.
More concerning are collisions between ships, which are much less common. In December 2019, two Carnival cruise ships collided in Cozumel, Mexico. Carnival Legend suffered minor damage in that incident, while the slightly larger Carnival Glory had much greater damage and was delayed for its next sailing.