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Monday, August 28, 2023

Video: Unexpected Storm: P&O Britannia's Harrowing Experience in Palma de Mallorca

When we think of cruise vacations, images of relaxation, exquisite dining, and stunning destinations usually come to mind. However, the recent incident involving the P&O Cruises ship Britannia serves as a reminder that Mother Nature can sometimes disrupt even the most meticulously planned journeys. See the update below what P&O's response has been from a damaged lifeboat and to compensate passengers.

The Storm and the Unforeseen Incident

On the morning of August 27, 2023, a sudden and powerful storm struck Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The storm brought heavy rain, high winds, and even hail to the area, creating challenging conditions for both residents and visitors. Among those impacted was the P&O Britannia, which was docked at the pier in Palma de Mallorca.

As the storm intensified, the cruise ship unexpectedly broke free from its mooring lines and began drifting away from the pier. Despite the best efforts of the ship's crew, the Britannia collided with a nearby tanker vessel named Castillo de Arteaga. Both ships sustained minor damage, including scrapes, scuffs, and bent railings. The collision also led to some damage to one of Britannia's lifeboats and debris in the water.

Safety Measures and Impact

Responding swiftly to the situation, the ship's captain instructed all guests to remain in their staterooms. Fortunately, despite the collision and the storm's severity, the ship's structure and safety were not compromised. Damage was reported primarily on Deck 5, and no significant injuries occurred among passengers or crew.

After the incident, Britannia anchored offshore for several hours to wait for the storm to pass and ensure safe docking. With the assistance of tugboats, the ship was later able to dock once again, allowing guests to return on board after their shore excursions. The crew's efficient response and adherence to safety protocols helped prevent a more serious outcome. This event comes as other ports in Spain are starting to regulate cruise ship docking.

Passenger Perspective: A Firsthand Account of the Britannia Incident

In the midst of the unexpected storm that struck Palma de Mallorca on August 27, passengers aboard the P&O Britannia found themselves in a situation that no one could have anticipated. One of those passengers, Ricky Stubbs, shared his harrowing experience, shedding light on the chaos and the remarkable response from both fellow passengers and the ship's crew.

A Sudden Turn of Events

Ricky Stubbs and his children were moments away from disembarking the Britannia when the unexpected occurred. He recalled, "We were at the stairwell next to the sunset bar. A loud crash came from the bar and the door flung open with people running in. Within seconds there was more crashing followed by chaos as people were trying to escape the onslaught of wind and rain."

The abruptness of the storm's impact caught everyone off guard. Stubbs vividly described the scene of panic and confusion as passengers sought refuge from the wind and rain, and some suffered minor injuries from falling debris or tripping over. The suddenness of the situation left people both frightened and distraught.

Calm Amidst Chaos

In the midst of the turmoil, Stubbs highlighted the efforts of both fellow guests and the ship's staff. He shared, "People were being ushered in by other guests and staff. You could clearly see some had injuries due to either falling over or debris flying around, and people were distraught."

However, amidst the chaos, he noted the impressive composure demonstrated by the ship's crew. He added, "A couple of minutes later the captain came over the speaker asking all guests to return to their rooms until further instructions." This quick response from the captain not only ensured the safety of the passengers but also kept them informed about the situation.

Admiration for the Crew

Ricky Stubbs extended his admiration for the ship's crew, particularly the captain, for their professionalism and leadership during the crisis. He expressed, "Huge respect for the captain and all the staff as they managed to stay calm and keep everyone updated. The captain made announcements every 10-15 minutes once we were back in our cabins, and they did a great job in a stressful situation."

Stubbs' account of the incident sheds light on the crucial role that well-trained and composed crew members play in maintaining order and ensuring the safety of passengers during unexpected events. Their ability to provide timely updates and guidance in the face of adversity helped alleviate the tension and uncertainty that naturally arises in such situations.

A Reminder of Resilience

As the P&O Britannia's passengers and crew navigate the aftermath of this incident, Ricky Stubbs' firsthand account stands as a testament to the resilience of both human beings and the cruise industry. Despite the unexpected challenges presented by the storm, passengers and crew worked together to ensure safety, and the experience showcased the importance of staying composed in the face of adversity.

In the end, this incident serves as a powerful reminder that travel, even on luxurious cruise ships, can be met with unforeseen challenges. It underscores the importance of preparedness, flexibility, and the unwavering commitment to safety that guides both passengers and crew through unexpected circumstances.

Potential Itinerary Changes

The incident occurred during Britannia's ongoing 14-night Mediterranean cruise, which departed from Southampton, UK. The ship had visited Cadiz, Cartagena, and Ibiza before its scheduled visit to Palma de Mallorca. Following the incident, it's uncertain whether the ship will need to remain in Palma de Mallorca for repairs, potentially affecting the rest of the cruise's itinerary.

The ship was slated to visit Gibraltar before returning to Southampton on September 1. The extent of the damage and the time required for repairs will likely determine whether the call to Gibraltar will be adjusted, canceled, or proceeded with as planned.

A small group of individuals were also receiving care on the vessel after experiencing minor injuries, as stated by P&O earlier. The captain informed passengers beforehand that there was no structural damage. Russ Dawson, residing in east London, was requested by cruise personnel to disembark earlier on Monday, but he stated that he refused to leave the ship. He recounted, "We received a call to our cabin, instructing us to bring our passports to the reception because we were scheduled to disembark at five o'clock, but I informed them that I wouldn't be departing." He further added, "I assumed people would be asked to leave the ship based on their muster station's proximity to the damaged boat, but that didn't appear to be the situation because it wasn't the case for us."

People on board the ship captured videos and images of the incident, depicting the emergency response and debris floating in the sea. Mr. Dawson was observing the weather from his balcony when the collision occurred, noting that the weather had suddenly turned stormy and the sky had darkened. "I noticed this boat beginning to turn around, and I thought, 'It's going to collide with us'," he recounted. "There was a loud bang upon impact, followed by screams, shouts, and panic." Mr. Dawson mentioned that P&O had extended a 20% discount on his next cruise as a goodwill gesture, although he felt it fell far short of compensating for the situation.

Safety First: Lessons from Recent Incidents

While cruise ships are designed to withstand a variety of weather conditions, incidents like the one involving Britannia serve as a reminder that unforeseen events can still occur. Recent incidents involving other cruise ships breaking free from their moorings underscore the importance of vigilant monitoring and prompt action in response to adverse weather conditions.

In recent times, several cruise ships have faced incidents where they broke free from their moorings due to adverse weather conditions. Here are a few notable instances:

  1. MSC Musica (MSC Cruises): In February 2023, the MSC Musica, operated by MSC Cruises, broke free from its moorings in Brazil during a sudden squall. The ship drifted away from the dock, leading to a temporary evacuation of passengers and causing minor damage to the ship and the terminal.

  2. Queen Mary 2 (Cunard Line): Also in 2023, the Queen Mary 2, a Cunard Line ship, experienced an incident in Civitavecchia, Italy. Strong winds caused the ship to break free from its moorings, leading to the collapse of both forward and aft gangways. The ship was safely secured, and no injuries were reported.

  3. Norwegian Prima (Norwegian Cruise Line): In July 2023, the Norwegian Prima, operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, broke free from its rope moorings while docked in Zeebrugge, Belgium. The ship lost gangways in the incident, and crew members worked quickly to stabilize the situation.

These incidents underscore the importance of cruise ship crews and port authorities closely monitoring weather conditions and taking necessary precautions to prevent accidents when adverse weather strikes.


The P&O Britannia's recent encounter with a sudden storm and subsequent collision is a testament to the unpredictable nature of travel, even in the realm of luxury cruise vacations. It also highlights the resilience and preparedness of both the crew and the ship itself when faced with unexpected challenges. As the cruise industry continues to prioritize passenger safety, incidents like this one serve as valuable reminders of the importance of flexibility and adaptability in the face of changing circumstances.

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