Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Experiences Unusual Water Incident

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas had a 6-deck waterfall for a few surprising minutes, due to an emergency maneuver and overflowing pools.

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Royal Caribbean International’s larger ships are well known for their amazing aqua shows and water features, but guests aboard Harmony of the Seas got an unexpected watery surprise this week when a pool overflowed after an emergency course correction. No injuries were reported, but the flooding and subsequent 6-deck waterfall was dramatically captured on video.

Pool Overflows on Harmony of the Seas

The incident occurred on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, as the Oasis-class cruise ship was enjoying a day at sea. Harmony of the Seas had left her homeport, Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, on December 31 and spent two days in The Bahamas – Nassau on January 1 and CocoCay, the cruise line’s private island on January 2 – before heading to the next port of call, Cozumel, Mexico.

Harmony of the Seas Pool
Harmony of the Seas Pool (Photo Credit: mridulablog / Shutterstock)

While sailing through the Straits of Florida between the Sunshine State and Cuba, the ship spotted a refugee raft at the last moment, and made a hard turn to avoid a collision with the smaller craft. This maneuver, while dramatic and startling for those onboard, is safe and is designed to protect the smaller craft from a head-on impact with the cruise ship.

This meant, however, that loose items on the cruise ship would shift abruptly, including water in its main pools on Deck 15. The water overflowed, spilled across a narrow portion of the deck and over the open space in the center of the ship, tumbling six decks down to Deck 8 (Harmony of the Seas does not have a Deck 13).

Dramatic video captured the “waterfall” onto the ship’s Central Park space, which is open to the sky – and water – above. The water is coming from the ship’s starboard side, indicating that it is likely from the popular “Beach Pool” while some may also have overflowed from Splashaway Bay, also on the starboard side of Deck 15.

If all pools, whirlpools, waterslides, and water play areas aboard Harmony of the Seas were combined, the ship carries more than 600,000 gallons of water.

No Injuries or Damage Reported

While the incident is visually dramatic and provided a good soaking to the Central Park area, no significant damage or injuries were reported. It is possible that some of the more than 10,000 plants in the open-air space will suffer, however, if the water that may have spilled onto them was either heavily chlorinated or salt water.

Normally, a special “Fertigation” unit is used to irrigate and nourish the living accents of Harmony of the Seas‘ Central Park, including the more than 50 trees and two unique living walls that decorate the space. Immediately after the incident, crew members were cleaning up the spillage and drying out the deck to minimize any aftereffects.

No Rescue Needed

While the ship’s hard turn was due to spotting a refugee life raft, it was later determined that the raft was empty and there was no need to stop to assist anyone in distress.

Refugee rescues have been on the rise in recent months, particularly in the Straits of Florida as desperate individuals seek to leave Cuba and navigate their way to the United States. Cruise ships are bound by maritime law to offer assistance, whether that means providing supplies, helping repair damaged craft, or taking refugees aboard if the small craft is no longer seaworthy.

There is no way to know where the empty raft Harmony of the Seas avoided originally came from, or if it was left adrift by another cruise ship’s earlier rescue.

On December 31, Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady rescued 18 refugees from a sinking boat in the same general area, while on January 2, Celebrity Beyond rescued 19 refugees from a makeshift boat built largely of styrofoam.

Three Carnival Cruise Line ships – Carnival Sunrise, Carnival Dream, and the line’s new flagship, Carnival Celebration, have also rescued a total of more than 40 refugees in the same region in the past week.

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