A Royal Caribbean cruise ship bound for Cancun veered off course and traveled 500 miles up the Mississippi River to Helena. The Majesty of the Sea, an 880 foot long ocean liner left Miami last week and made a scheduled stop in Key West before setting its course across The Gulf of Mexico for Cancun.
A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean said the ship is one of the older ships in their fleet and had reported malfunctioning navigation and GPS equipment on a previous voyage, but technicians had corrected the problem before clearing the ocean liner for the Cancun cruise.
The ship encountered a storm en route to Cancun, which is on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, and entered the mouth of the Mississippi River Monday night. Thick fog and torrential rain may have played a role as well as darkness and malfunctioning equipment. In addition to that, the captain and crew were on their first Miami to Cancun voyage. The previous crew had made the trip numerous times but had all fallen ill with norovirus. The current crew was a last-minute replacement.
“We woke up Tuesday morning ready to hit the beach, but it looked awful muddy,” said Edith Goldstein, who was on her first cruise. “We got off the ship and looked around, but it didn’t look like Mexico with all those old pre-Civil War houses and stuff.”
Many of the 2,200 passengers on board had never taken a cruise before. When several of them complained about the lack of Mexican cuisine, the cruise line rented buses to shuttle them to the nearest Taco Bell. “There wasn’t enough room in there for all of us, so we had to take our lunch back to the ship,” added Goldstein.
At 880 feet the Majesty of the Sea is slightly smaller than the average Royal Caribbean cruise liner. It typically is used for short voyages around the Gulf of Mexico. Helena Harbor isn’t large enough for the vessel to turn around and will be at its current location until a tow boat arrives to help with backing it into the river so it can head south toward the gulf.
It was unclear as to whether the cruise ship would continue to Cancun or return to Miami. The debacle will likely mean a three-day detour for the cruise, which was originally intended to last nine days total. Royal Caribbean management has yet to determine what kind of compensation, if any, will be offered to passengers.
A spokesperson for the cruise line commented, “Not everybody gets a cruise up the Mississippi River thrown in. But we won’t charge them extra for it.”