Cruise ship with thousands on board runs aground in Caribbean

Officials hope Norwegian Escape, stranded off the north coast of the Dominican Republic, can be refloated at high tide.

The Norwegian Escape leaving port for the first time in 2015
The Norwegian Escape, built in Germany in 2015, has run aground off the Dominican Republic [File: Ingo Wagner/DPA via EPA]

Officials in the Dominican Republic have confirmed that a large cruise ship had run aground off the Caribbean island nation’s north coast shortly after leaving the port of Puerto Plata.

According to local media, the ship is the Norwegian Escape, with some 3,000 tourists and 1,600 crew on board.

“For the moment, there is no risk for passengers or crew members,” Vice Admiral Ramon Gustavo Betances Hernandez told the media on Monday, adding that the ship had run aground due to “strong 30 knot winds.”

“The tide in this area rises about 1 metre (3 feet) at four in the morning (08:00 GMT). We think that with the high tide, we can get the boat out of its current position,” the vice-admiral said, noting that tugs had already been working in vain to free the vessel.

He said that additional tugs would soon be arriving to help in the effort.

The Norwegian Escape was on its way to the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands, before making its way to the Bahamas, according to local media.

(Translation: Cruise ship remains aground in Taino Baym, Puerto Plata; representatives from different government authorities have been at the site with the aim of working with the crew and for the ship, Norwegian Escape, to continue on its course)

Passengers posted pictures of the incident on social media, showing tug boats alongside the ship. There were no reports of damage.

According to the US-based Norwegian Cruise Line’s website, the Norwegian Escape is nearly 326 metres long (1,070 feet) and weighs 165,000 tonnes.

It can accommodate as many as 4,200 passengers and 1,700 crew members.

The ship, one of NCL’s biggest, was built in Germany and delivered in 2015.

Source: AFP, Al Jazeera