Managing Director of Kirk Sea Tours, Kirk Hendricks has stated that the snorkel boat that overturned on Friday at sea was in no way over capacity.
Passengers (54 cruise guests and one ship escort) on board were from the Costa Mediterranea cruise line and were rescued from sea after the boat capsized near the Sandbar in the North Sound. One was taken to hospital for treatment and released shortly afterwards.
The Sun Runner has a capacity for 85 passengers, Mr. Hendricks said, and there were 55 passengers on board, along with three crew members.
‘We have a very safe operation,’ he commented, saying that his operations are in full compliance with Port Authority regulations.
On the positive side, he said, no one had drowned or been seriously injured.
Speaking about the pending investigations into the incident, he said, ‘I think the most important thing for us is to learn from this’.
He said that there is a good safety record in general within the watersports sector of tourism.
Accidents such as this, he said, no matter how good the safety measures, are unfortunately a part of life and the most important thing is to learn from it.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing. The circumstances are under investigation by the Royal Cayman Islands Police with assistance from the Port Authority and the Maritime Authority.
The cause of the accident is currently undergoing a thorough review by Costa, the cruise line said.
The Office of the Complaints Commissioner is also investigating the incident. This investigation will be a part of the overall investigation that the OCC is doing into safety and the regulation of small commercial, water-borne vessels in the Cayman Islands.
‘This incident will be used as an example of why marine safety needs to be reviewed and why the Legislative Assembly will be appreciative of this report,’ said Complaints Commissioner John Epp.
Kirk Sea Tours has retrieved 80 per cent of the personal belongings of those on the boat. Divers retrieved much of the belongings from the sea. The company is getting ready to send the items to Costa Cruise Lines’ head office, said Mr. Hendricks.
The Sun Runner was towed from its sinking location, near the Sandbar, at lunchtime on Saturday and taken to Harbour House Marina.
The Department of Environment had confirmed that the vessel was resting in approximately 10 feet of water on a sandy bottom and no significant leak of fuel had been evident.
A statement from Costa Cruise Lines says that all guests on the excursion were interviewed by Cayman authorities before returning on board the ship.
The cruise line states that its highest priority is the safety of its passengers and crew.
‘The company fully assisted and continues to support the affected passengers. Guests partaking in the shore excursion received a full excursion refund and will receive a 100 per cent cruise credit for a future Costa Caribbean cruise.
‘In addition, Costa will be compensating these guests for the replacement of personal property lost at the time.’