The Monarch of the Seas was evacuated just two days into a seven-day cruise
Passengers safe after Royal Caribbean cruise ship hits rocks
December 15, 1998
Web posted at: 1:37 p.m. EST (1837 GMT)
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten (CNN) -- All 2,557 passengers aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship were safe Tuesday morning after being evacuated when the vessel hit an underwater shoal of rocks and began taking on water.
No injuries were reported, and there was no evidence of pollution.
After leaving Philipsburg at 12:30 a.m. EST, the cruise ship Monarch of the Seas hit an underwater shoal and began taking on water in its forward quarter, said Lynn Martenstein, a spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean.
The captain returned the ship to Great Bay outside Philipsburg, bringing it into shallow water and landing it on sand, she said.
"The water had violated three of the 18 compartments. I think the captain decided that the safest thing to do was to land that ship on sand."
---Lynn Martenstein, Royal Caribbean spokeswoman
"The water had violated three of the 18 compartments. I think the captain decided that the safest thing to do was to land that ship on sand," Martenstein said.
Water did not flood any of the passenger areas but did flood some of the ship's equipment. In addition to the 2,557 passengers, there were 831 crew members aboard.
Passengers were given life jackets and ferried to shore by local boats, Martenstein said. Life boats were readied for use, but they weren't required.
All passengers had been evacuated by 4:15 a.m. EST. Arrangements were being made to retrieve their belongings from the ship and fly them home. Royal Caribbean said the passengers will be given a refund.
The ship was on a seven-day cruise, which started in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sunday, stopped at St. Thomas on Monday and headed for Martinique on Tuesday. The ship normally would have visited St. Maarten on Friday, but a guest on board required hospitalization and the ship stopped to drop off the passenger.
The cruise ship remained aground in Great Bay Tuesday morning, and a damage assessment team was on its way from Miami. Based in San Juan, the Monarch of the Seas has Norwegian registry.
St. Maarten is the Dutch side of an island in the northeastern Caribbean shared by the Netherlands and France. The French side is called St. Martin.