Around 1,672 mostly Spanish passengers and 600 crew members were adrift in the Adriatic Sea, after an engine fire caused the 21-year-old cruise ship to halt overnight between Ravenna and Venice in Italy.
The mostly Spanish passengers on board the ship told the media of their overnight overnight ordeal "in pyjamas" while waiting to be towed ashore, following a fire in the ship's engine room. Other passengers were from Argentina, Brazil and Italy.
One of the Spanish passengers on the ship, Josep Cortiella, told TV news channel 3/24 that they had had to go to the ship's bridge "in pyjamas" and stay there until 8am.
According to Cortiella, they had nothing to eat, except some sandwiches. He claimed that the ship's authorities "didn't know what to do."
However according to Catalan daily El Periodico, diplomatic sources praised the speed and efficiency of Italian relief forces as well as the co-ordination of the departments involved in the rescue.
The cause of the problem was a fire in the ship's engine room, which left the propulsion system inoperative. This then caused the ship to drift to a halt about 16 miles offshore. The fire was quickly extinguished and no one was injured in the incident.
Eventually the Pullmantour liner was towed by tugboats to Marghera and 40 coaches were laid on to transport the passengers to Venice airport. The Spain-based shipping company, Pullmantour, then organized six air flights to return the Spanish passengers back home. and the company confirmed on Wednesday morning that all were now safely in Spain.
The chairman and CEO of Pullmantur Group, Gonzalo Chico Barbier, met the passengers in Marghera and said in a statement: "We deeply regret the unexpected interruption of the holidays of our passengers."
Adding that, "The safety of our passengers and crew is always our top priority, which is why we have called upon all of the resources at our disposal, chartering six planes and 40 buses, and swiftly facilitating the return home of each of our passengers."
Every passenger on board the Zenith will receive a full refund, plus expenses, and the company also offered all passengers a 25% discount on a future cruise.
"The Zenith is now being looked at by technicians," a spokesperson from Pullmantour told The Local.
"We don't yet know how long the ship will be out action."
The spokesperson added that the ship's 600 staff are now in Venice, and she praised their hard work in assisting passengers throughout the ordeal.
Reportedly this is not the first time that a fire has occurred on the Zenith, as there was another incident in 2009 when the cruise ship was docked in Stockholm, Sweden.
An interesting anecdote about the ship is that a 7-Night Cruise from March 11 to 18, 1995 aboard the Zenith is the subject of David Foster Wallace's 1995 essay "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again."
The essay was part of a collection of the same name and was originally published in Harper's as "Shipping Out".
Wallace refers to the ship by the name the "Nadir" throughout the essay, he apparently insists "the rechristening's nothing particular against the ship itself."
To the source: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/353225