Uniworld’s River Countess was hit by the MSC Opera, which lost control while coming into the San Basilio Cruise Terminal in Venice on Sunday morning.
According to Uniworld, four guests sustained minor injuries on board, including one Australian who has been hospitalised for precautionary care. There were no reported injuries on MSC Opera.
Local medical authorities also reported that five people were injured from falling or trying to run away from the incoming cruise ship. There were two Australians, a New Zealander and an American reportedly injured.
The collision happened about 8.30am local time on the Giudecca Canal, a major thoroughfare that leads to Saint Mark’s Square in the Italian city.
Both Uniworld and MSC have had to cancel and alter itineraries after both ships were damaged in the collision.
In a video shot by Australian tourist Robert Lauretti, MSC Opera is seen slowly coming into dock diagonally with horns blaring. It eventually crashed into the dock, as well as River Countess which was moored in front, causing dozens of people to run away in panic.
While an investigation is currently underway, there were initial speculations that suggest a cable used to link the MSC Opera to the tug boats to pull the ship into the city’s canal, broke.
David Calderan, the head of the tugboat company involved in steering the ship towards the city, told Italian media that the problem was the MSC Opera’s engine.
“The MSC ship had an engine failure, which was immediately reported by the captain,” Mr Calderan said.
“The engine was blocked but because of thrust on, the speed was increasing.
“The two tug boats that had been guiding the ship into the dock tried to slow it down, but one of the chains linking them to the giant snapped under the pressure.”
Mr Lauretti said he was surprised that the impact of hitting the pier “didn’t jolt that much” when he spoke with Nine’s Today Show this morning.
“We were all bracing quite hard, but oddly enough you could hardly feel the actual impact,” he said.
Uniworld has updated its statement saying: “The River Countess was hit by the MSC Opera, a large ocean ship while docked at the San Basilio Cruise Terminal in Venice, Italy yesterday. At the time of the accident, only 26 of the ship’s 130 passengers remained on board, with most having already disembarked and transferring to flights home.
“Following a complete review by the company’s technical and nautical team, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection announces the next six sailings of the River Countess will be cancelled. This includes the “Gems of Northern Italy” cruise-tour dates originally scheduled for June 7, 14, 21 and 28, July 5 and 12.”
The president and CEO of the line, Ellen Bettridge said the ship will resume sailing on July 21 when it departs from Venice to Milan following a two-night land tour that begins on July 19.
“We have begun immediate outreach to our guests and travel advisor partners with this news and are offering options to rebook.
“We appreciate the outpouring of support and well-wishes by our guests, travel advisor partners and industry colleagues, and would like to thank everyone for their support during this time.”
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