Freed from reef off Bermuda, cruise ship awaits inspection

In this photo provided by the Royal Gazette, the Norwegian cruise ship Norwegian Dawn, lies aground near Bermuda's North Channel Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Thousands of passengers bound for Boston will spend Tuesday night stuck aboard a Norwegian cruise ship after it ran aground as it tried to depart Bermuda, officials and passengers said. (Akil Simmons/The Royal Gazette photo via AP) - BERMUDA OUT - NOT FOR USE IN BERMUDA PUBLICATIONS

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A cruise ship carrying nearly 3,500 passengers and crew spent the early hours of Wednesday anchored off Bermuda after being grounded on a reef close to the British island.

Norwegian Cruise Line said a rising tide helped free the ship and push it into deeper water late Tuesday after being stuck for nearly 6½ hours, but the company added that the ship dropped anchor and would wait for an inspection for any damage.

“All guests and crew are safe and there were absolutely no injuries,” a company statement said.

The ship had just set off for Boston on Tuesday when it ran aground after a temporary malfunction in the steering system forced it slightly off course, the company said. The ship, with 2,443 passengers and 1,059 crew members aboard, would be inspected by a team of experts before resuming its voyage, the statement said.

Passenger Rachel Hansen, from Londonderry, New Hampshire, spoke to The Associated Press by phone and said the ship was about three miles from Bermuda when it ran aground.

“We definitely felt it,” she said. “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.”

Hansen said she and her family gathered essential belongings and joined other people who went to the top of the ship to see what had happened.

“We had crew members running around in a panic, and we felt like we had to panic,” she said, adding that overall, the majority of crew members reacted calmly and quickly.

As the hours went by, she said passengers settled into their evening routine and the ship still held entertainment shows as planned.

The Norwegian Dawn was on a seven-day, round-trip cruise to Bermuda, where it spent three days in port.

The situation raised concern among those scheduled to travel from Boston to Bermuda aboard the Norwegian Dawn on Friday, including Nicole Boucher of Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

She said she had plans to travel with her mother and young daughter to celebrate their birthdays, but Norwegian cruise officials told her they didn’t know yet if the ship will available.

“It was a girls’ trip,” she said. “My mom actually let me know through Facebook and said, ‘Oh, this is our luck.'”

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