Crew Stories: Blackout on Cruise ship

Oct 09, 2019

It was the end of September 2013. This is the period when I got really scared on the ship Royal Princess for the first time. We were still on the Mediterranean cruises and the ship was on its’ way from Marseille to Barcelona. The sea was so still and I was working the first shift, a little before midday.

I was working my shift in the Piazza and while I was chatting with the passengers the power went out. 

First, we noticed that the main light was out and that the dishwashers and espresso machines weren’t working. At least the backup lights were on. 

The Captain, a young Italian man at the start of his career who was given a brand new ship to operate, informed us that one of the engines has stopped working. He said that the Cost guard and authorities were notified and that we would have to wait a few hours for the engineers to fix or replace the broken part. I was not 100% sure which one, I just know that I was thinking about my family and wanting to hug them right now. People started panicking a bit, both the passengers and the crew.

The Captain assured us that we are all completely safe, that the ship is undamaged and that this is one possible malfunction that could happen. We spent the next three hours serving free drinks for all the guests, we were checking on all of them and making sure they were alright. Our Supervisor gathered us in the back of the kitchen and reassured us that everything was fine and under control and that we should continue with our work calmly and try not to cause more panic. 

When it all started I instantly thought about my family and friends, and then I thought how my fellow crew members felt. I had an urge to hug them all and hold them tight. 

I was rushing from one pair of guests to another, some of whom I already served during this cruise. I bagged a few sandwiches and a big bottle of water for them and said: “Just in case, you never know”. They started pulling 20 Dollar bills from their wallets and putting them in my hand, grateful for the fact that I was looking after them. The power came back on after three hours and we continued our cruise to Barcelona, where we would stay for a few days so the ship can be fixed completely. 

The next day was even more hectic, most passengers were waiting in lines at the Reception desk in order to change their flights and hotel reservations, and to file complaints about what happened. 

I was walking through the crowded lobby when I heard someone calling my name – “Tamara, can you please get a glass of water for my wife and me, we have been waiting in line for two hours and we are very thirsty”.  He said it in a nervous tone and threw a 10 Dollar bill in my direction. I went to the bar and got a full tray of water glasses. 

All of a sudden people started grabbing the glasses and throwing money at me, form 1 Dollar to 20 Dollar bills. I thought that this is so worthwhile, everyone saw that I was bringing water and they all yelled: “I’ll have one; I’ll have three”… 

I had to ask my Supervisor for help and suggested that he should get more bar waiters here so we could serve our guests. He briefly said that he can’t do that and that I should figure it out on my own. I said: “Alright, I informed you about the situation. You know where I am just so you don’t think that I’m skipping work today”. 

I found a serving cart and a big brown tray and I was able to put around 50 or so glasses of water on them. 

After about an hour serving that water I earned about 250 Dollars in cash, I picked all the empty glasses up and realized that the guests were a bit less nervous. There was a rumor going around that the Captain was going to fast and that the engine burned up because of it. He was relieved of duty for some time after this incident. 

I still remember how scared everyone was, but the good thing is that we were in Barcelona where we had two free days since the ship was being repaired. We could do whatever we wanted since there were no passengers onboard.

A special dinner was prepared for the Crew and it was served on the open deck, we had a Crew Show in the Princess Theatre with our own entertainers, we even played soccer on the deck 19 court. We had a great time and forgot about the fear we felt.