MSC Cruises to compensate Uniworld €2.4m in compensation for Venice accident

Oct 18, 2021

The world remembers the accident that happened on June 2, 2019, when MSC Opera was approaching the cruise terminal after having made its scenic sail into the port past the famed St. Mark’s Square and sights of Venice. Eyewitnesses stated that the cruise ship failed to slow down, even seemed that there was a possible speed up in the moment it hit Uniworld river cruise ship the River Countess while moored at the San Basilio Pier in the Guidecca Canal. The two tugboats, that were assisting the ship as it neared the dock, did everything to slow the cruise ship and steer it to prevent a more serious impact. 

Even though MSC Cruises was blaming the ship’s builder Chantiers de l'Atlantique for possible design flaws of the cruise ship, the experts were determined that the omission was at the moment when the chief engineer and chief electrician failed to address a warning signal of a possible failure on the main electrical switchboard. It was even suggested by the navy report, saying that it could have been prevented by stopping the engines after the vessel suffered steering failure. Captain Carmine Siviero, the chief engineer and the chief electrician, as well as two other crew members, were sentenced to prison, which was commuted in monetary fines. 

The ruling handed down by the High Court of England will make MSC Cruises pay river cruise operator Uniworld €2.4 million.

This allision had made worldwide headlines with the video of the accident shared on the news reports.  

The verdict, handed down by Justice Andrew Baker, puts MSC on the line for the initial costs related to the accident and a potential $8.7 million in additional lost revenue and related fees. MSC has accepted responsibility for the incident and had already agreed to pay for the ship repairs and any monies connected to the vessel being out of service.

After the crash, Uniworld was forced to take the vessel out of service for a drydock in Trieste, Italy for repairs, causing the company to lose revenue from 14 scheduled sailings. It returned to service in September 2019.

No one was seriously hurt during the accident but a few of the 28 guests onboard the River Countess suffered minor injuries. The accident happened on a turn day for the ship and most guests had already disembarked. The Opera sustained scratches but no hull damage.

Though this accident was a technical malfunction, it fueled the decade-long fire of banning massive cruise ships from Venice.

The Italian Council of Ministers issued a decree earlier this year banning cruise ships larger than 25,000 gross registered tons from sailing through San Marco Basin, the San Marco Canal, and the Giudecca Canal. Uniworld CEO Ellen Brettride said, “It took an incident of this nature to bring about change.”

First entering service in 2004, the MSC Opera is 65,500 gross registered tons.