The passengers on a cruise ship were enjoying their vacation at sea when suddenly something made them snap out of it. Their captain started calling for action from his crew and nobody understood what was happening at first.
The ship starting changing course abruptly and the passengers weren’t sure why. Everyone was coming out from the buffet to see what was going on.
A lot of people got on the Pacific Princess excited to get their vacation started. They packed their things, boarded the cruise ship, and were ready to leave their obligations and responsibilities on the shore.
Now in the middle of the ocean, they felt comfortable forgetting about the daily stresses of life and loosened up for their vacation. But nobody knew what lay ahead of them.
The route that the Pacific Princess took led them to a stop in the British Isles for an 8-day excursion. As the cruise ship made its way back to Dover, England, the 670s passengers knew that their cruise was almost over.
Soon they’d have to go back to the troubles of daily life, but one surprise was still awaiting them.
So the passengers sat down, ready to eat one of their last meals, the buffet was quite the sight. Everyone on the ship was offered something that they loved. At least this gave them some consolation.
They were relaxing at their tables and getting ready to eat, their eyes wide and their stomachs empty. But something startled them right then and there.
Cruise ships normally follow a very specific route to avoid collisions with other big ships. These routes are for everyone’s safety and they aren’t usually deviated from.
An example of when a ship would have to break course is when they encounter a big storm our choppy seas. The captain will carefully plan a better route for the ship in that circumstance. So if a ship abruptly changes course, it must be an emergency.
The captain was the one responsible for the drastic change in course and he had a good reason for it. He considered all of his options available to him and decided this one was the best.
He chose to point the ship directly at something he noticed on the horizon – a flash of light! He sprang into action and called out the orders for his crew. They were now speeding off course at a fast rate.
The ship was getting closer as the sun starting hanging lower in the sky. After they got close to the source of the light the captain smiled, he was right to trust his instinct.
The captain hadn’t hallucinated the strange light that appeared on the horizon. Still, he knew his ship wasn’t fit for this kind of job, was he right to go off course after all?
The captain’s suspicions were confirmed, the light had been a signal flare. He had no idea what kind of shape the people needing help were since there was no S.O.S. over the radio.
The sea looked empty as the sky darkened, the captain’s gut twisted into a knot as he thought about putting the lives on his vessel in jeopardy. But all the same he shook his head and kept heading towards the light.
Normally a cruise ship wouldn’t get involved in responding to a call for help. But with no other ships even close to them and it being so far out at sea, the captain felt an obligation to help.
Without any hopes of the coast guard getting to the scene anytime soon. The captain needed to get there before the situation worsened and night settled in. He wouldn’t leave whoever needed help to their fate.
After nearly considering changing course, the captain saw something in the distance, a small silhouette floating on the surface of the ocean. He took out his binoculars to get a better view.
He couldn’t tell what it was, maybe some flotsam or jetsam? Maybe it was just garbage. Either way, he maintained his current course towards the flare.
As this unraveled, the passengers now wanted to know what was happening to their vacation, with their buffet interrupted, they all walked on the main deck to see what was going on.
They hung over the railings on either side of the ship and leaned out to see what the captain was so interested in. What had made the captain want to take a detour and potentially put their safety at risk?
As they got closer, the captain realized that there was a life raft floating adrift on the open sea! It was orange and stuck out like a sore thumb now that they were closer.
He could see some movement inside and instantly felt the hope that had been dwindling in his chest. Their must be people alive on the raft.
There were three men floating aboard and all three of them were alive! The men poked their heads out, relieved to see another ship.
They had been floating for hours just hoping there was a soul out there who saw their flare. Thankfully, the captain had and took matters into his own hands.
Rather than wait hours for the coast guard to arrive on the scene, the captain wanted to attempt a rescue mission so that the men didn’t have to suffer anymore.
The logistics of the rescue presented quite a challenge since a rescue vessel and cruise ship are designed very differently.
“Originally they didn’t think we were going to be able to rescue them,” Teena Dowd, a passenger on the Pacific Princess, said.
“We were on the very top deck, and people were just sort of holding their breath, everybody was anxious.”
The cruise ship was able to get close enough to the stranded sailors to throw down a rope to them. Then, they were able to construct a ladder for them to climb up the side of the ship.
But there were problems with this solution, this plan proved to be more complicated than they anticipated.
The first man attempted to climb up the ladder to safety but ended up slipping and plummeting back down towards the water!
Luckily, the sailors were able to retrieve him and pull him back aboard the life raft. It seemed like it would be hard for the stranded men to climb the ladder.
The cruise workers went back to the drawing board and reconstructed a more sturdy ladder. This one took a lot more time but they were confident that it would hold.
It took over an hour, but eventually, they were able to successfully get all three guys out of the water and safely on the cruise ship. But the worst wasn’t over…
“Everybody clapped when they came on the ship,” Teena explained. The crew was proud of their accomplishments in rescuing the sailors.
”But we didn’t know until a while later when the captain announced that there were actually two more and we were still searching for them.”
The cruise ship stayed in the area hoping to find the remaining two sailors, while the coast guard sent out helicopters, lifeboats, and multiple ships to scour the area.
They had reason to believe that the missing men ended up in the water after their ship sank in a freak accident.
They searched through the night until about 3:30 in the morning and then returned to the area the next morning. It was difficult in the dark to find the missing sailors.
After hours of dedicated searching, sadly, they discovered the bodies of two men who were later identified as the two missing sailors.
Although this story had a bittersweet ending, if it wasn’t for the quick action of the Pacific Princess captain, the number of casualties might have been even greater.
In the end, what counts is that three men got to go home to their families that night. And that’s something that the captain will never forget.