700 Evacuated From Palm Beach-Bound Bahamas Celebration Cruise

This past Friday night, a whole lot of people aboard the Bahamas Celebration cruise liner had little reason to celebrate, as the cruise ship ran aground just outside Bahamas Freeport Harbour. Seven hundred passengers and crew aboard a Halloween cruise got a scare to remember when they were forced to evacuate the ship when it was found that a small hole in the side of the vessel was causing it to take on water. Passengers were transported to an alternate ship and arrived back safely in South Florida on Saturday night.

James Verillo, owner of the Bahamas Celebration cruise line, told Tribune 242 that the hole in the ship has since been repaired and that the ship is no longer in danger of sinking. "The ship is listing at about 10 percent, and there is a whole host of professionals onboard dealing with the issue. There was a small hole on the side of the ship that has already been patched," he said.

Prior to the repair of the small hole that was caused after the ship struck ground about 200 yards outside Freeport, reports had the chances of the ship sinking at 50-50. Thankfully, salvage crews were able to patch the hole and save the ship, avoiding what would have been a complete tragedy.

Celebration Cruise Line says it will update customers at a later time, as more information becomes available. "Our focus at this time is taking care of our passengers who were on the ship or had planned to be on the ship over the next few days," a news release said. Built in 1981, the 35,500-ton Bahamas Celebration ship can hold up to 1,000 passengers and routinely sails two-night cruises from Palm Beach to Freeport, Bahamas, and then back again.

Celebration Cruise Line released a statement stating that passengers were never in any real danger but that the company took precautions ahead of the repair to ensure the safety of all aboard.

"As a precaution, all passengers we're asked to put on life jackets, and emergency steps were taken as the ship staff practices every week. No passengers were ever in any danger, and everything was handled in an organized and efficient way by the ship," it stated.

The Bahamas Celebration will stay in the Bahamas for now, as teams work to assess any further damage before it is sails back to Palm Beach, where it was originally expected to dock at 7 p.m. Saturday. The company has canceled all scheduled cruises through Monday and presumably will continue to cancel trips on this ship as it permanently repairs the hole in its side.

A handful of passengers documented the close call and posted video to YouTube.

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