How Many Cruise Ships Have Sunk?

Like other modes of transportation, on a cruise ship there is always a risk of crashing or sinking. However, it is very rare for cruise ships to sink, and it’s not something that should prevent you from enjoying a cruise.

But if you are curious about how many cruise ships have sunk, then you may be surprised to learn that there haven’t been that many in the last 100 years. Keep reading to find out more about how many cruise ships have sunk over the years.

How Many Cruise Ships Have Sunk in the Last 100 Years?

If you are doing an internet search to find out how many cruise ships have sunk, you are either a history buff or are having anxiety about going on your first cruise. If it’s the latter, then don’t worry. Cruise ships sinking is a rare occurrence. This is due to the safety measures that the cruise industry has in place and the fact that modern-day cruise ships are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions.

Most of us know the iconic story of the Titanic, which tragically sunk in 1912. Other than that incident, there have only been 22 cruise ships that have sunk in the last hundred years. Some happened while the ship was berthed (parked) or being towed due to mechanical issues.

Since the tragedy of the Titanic and the Empress of Ireland, cruise ships have become incredibly safe. The protocols that the cruise industry follows are very strict. So, don’t worry if you are going on your first cruise, as the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor.

Now that we have calmed the nerves of first-time cruisers let’s take a look at some of the most well-known cruise ship disasters for our history buffs.

The Titanic

The Titanic is well-known by moviegoers and history buffs alike. It was deemed unsinkable by many experts, but they were unfortunately proven wrong on its inaugural voyage from England to the U.S.

Thomas Andrews designed the ship so it could withstand severe head-on collisions. However, as many know, the ship hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean, which penetrated five watertight compartments.

It is said that if the iceberg had only penetrated four of the compartments, the ship might not have sunk. Besides being wrong that the ship was unsinkable, the crew that manned the Titanic was poorly prepared for any type of drastic situation.

In fact, they were so poorly prepared that there were only enough lifeboats to transport a third of the people aboard the ship, and many of the lifeboats left at less than full capacity. The other problem was that the lifeboats were only capable of shuttling people to rescue ships, not to shore, and help was hours away. As a result, more than 1,500 people died while either still on the ship or in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic.

Empress of Ireland

The Empress of Ireland was the second biggest cruise ship disaster after the Titanic. The ship sank in the Saint Lawrence River in 1914 with 1,477 people onboard, killing 1,012. It sank due to thick fog and a collision with the Norwegian collier SS Storstad when it was traveling from Quebec City to Liverpool in England.

Unfortunately, only 5 of the 42 lifeboats were able to be deployed, and crew members failed to close the watertight doors and portholes. Like the Titanic, the demise of the ship was due to poor communication and extremely bad luck.

Costa Concordia

One of the more recent ships to have sunk is the Costa Concordia. On January 13th, 2012, the ship hit an underwater rock, capsized, sank, and killed 32 passengers.

How did this happen? Most say it was due to poor decision-making by the captain. Captain Francesco Schettino and ship chief Antonello Tievoli decided to sail closer to the island of Isola del Giglio to salute the local residents. This would have been all fine and good, but Captain Schettino decided to turn off the ship’s navigation system as he believed he knew the waters well enough.

After the ship hit the underwater rock, Captain Schettino abandoned the ship while there were 300 passengers still onboard. Later Captain Schettino was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

MS Estonia

In 1994, MS Estonia sank when sailing from Tallinn to Stockholm. Severe wind conditions and rough seas caused the ship to list on the starboard side, killing 852 people, while only 137 people were able to be saved. Later, MS Estonia completely disappeared from the surface of the Baltic Sea.

It is said that the bow door had become separated from the ship and that cargo was poorly distributed. As a result, flooding spread rapidly. Not long after, the power failed, and 90 minutes went by before a full-scale emergency was declared. Unfortunately, this was another maritime disaster that was exacerbated by poor communication and execution by the crew.

SS Admiral Nakhimov

In 1986, the SS Admiral Nakhimov sank when it collided with a large bulk carrier. The disaster killed 423 people out of the 1,234 that were onboard. The accident was caused by both captains not paying attention, unfortunately. The captain of the bulk carrier didn’t heed the warnings and signals of Admiral Nakhimov, while the captain of Admiral Nakhimov wasn’t around when the collision happened.

MTS Oceanos

In 1991, the MTS Oceanos left East London, South Africa, and set sail to Durban. However, the ship was met with 40-knot winds and ocean swells measuring more than 30 feet high. As the weather and sea conditions worsened into the night, the ship rolled from side to side and later lost power.

Due to an explosion in the waste disposal system and water filling the generator room, the ship was left powerless and sinking. South African helicopters and a container ship came to rescue the passengers and were able to save everyone onboard. However, the ship wasn’t so lucky and ended up sinking nose-first into the ocean.

SS Andrea Doria

The last cruise ship disaster on our list is the SS Andrea Doria. In 1956 near the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, the ship collided with a Swedish passenger vessel.

The collision was due to the crew misreading the radar. Plus, the fog was so thick that the crew members couldn’t see ahead to avoid the collision. Thus, the tragic accident is known as the world’s major radar-caused collision. As a result, around 50 people died, but more than 1,600 were rescued.

Don’t Worry How Many Cruise Ships Have Sunk

While these are some of the most tragic cruise ship disasters in history, it’s important to note that these accidents are extremely rare. In fact, there have only been a handful of ships that have sunk over the last few decades. Nowadays, cruise ships are built with the highest safety standards and technologies to ensure passengers have a safe and enjoyable cruise vacation.

If you’re interested in planning a cruise on one of today’s safe ships, here are some articles that might help: Best Eastern Caribbean Cruise, Best Caribbean Cruise Lines for Families, 5 Best Caribbean Cruises for Couples, Best Caribbean Cruise Deals, 10 Best Caribbean Cruise Line Choices, Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Virgin Voyages Review: Why It’s the #1 Cruise Line. Or reach out to one of our expert travel advisors for help!

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