Norwegian cruise ship freed from reef off Bermuda after six hours

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A cruise ship that ran aground on a reef near Bermuda departed for Boston on Wednesday after repairs were made to its steering system, officials said.

The Norwegian Dawn carrying nearly 3,500 passengers and crew hit the reef late Tuesday and was stuck for more than six hours before a rising tide helped push it into deeper water.

Norwegian Cruise Line said a temporary malfunction in the steering system had forced it off course as the ship departed Bermuda, where it had spent three days in port as part of a seven-day roundtrip to the island.

The company said Wednesday a team of experts had inspected the ship and found it safe to operate. It was expected to reach Boston on Friday and be ready to make its scheduled departure later that day for a return to Bermuda, the company said.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and greatly appreciate our guests’ understanding,” a company statement said.

The ship’s 2,443 passengers will receive a 15 per cent credit for a future cruise.

Rachel Hansen, a passenger from Londonderry, New Hampshire, said the ship was about 3 miles from Bermuda when it ran aground.

“We definitely felt it,” she told The Associated Press by telephone. “We were in the middle of eating dinner. … There was a shudder for maybe 30 seconds to a minute and then there was a sudden stop.”

Passengers were allowed to disembark during the delay, but were asked to stay close to the ship, said Mitchell Walker, a 33-year-old passenger from New York state.

“It’s been a bit inconvenient, but not the worst thing that could have happened,” he said. `”There are worse places you could be shipwrecked.”

The problem with the Norwegian Dawn forced another cruise ship, the Norwegian Breakaway, to drop anchor offshore when it reached Bermuda on Wednesday. Passengers, however, still were able to enjoy the island, with ferries brought in to carry them ashore, the government said.

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