MSC Opera accidents and incidents

MSC Opera cruise ship


Length (LOA)
275 m / 902 ft

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CruiseMapper's MSC Opera cruise ship accidents, incidents and law news reports relate to a 2570-passenger vessel owned by MSC Cruises. Our MSC Opera accidents page contains reports made by using official data from renown online news media sources, US Coast Guard and Wikipedia.

Here are also reported latest updates on cruise law news related to ashore and shipboard crimes still investigated by the police. Among those could be arrests, filed lawsuits against the shipowner / cruise line company, charges and fines, grievances, settled / withdrawn legal actions, lost cases, virus outbreaks, etc.

  • pier collision/allision - 2011 (Buenos Aires Argentina)
  • ship collision - 2019 (with Uniworld River Countess in Venice Italy)
  • propulsion/power loss - 2011
  • ship seizure - 2011 (in Southampton England, UK)
  • deaths - overboard (2013-crew, 2015)
  • injuries/crimes - drug busts (2010, 2019)
  • Norovirus - 2010 (400+ pax, Baltic Sea, Europe)
  • Coronavirus - 2020 (8 crew, ship qurantine in Genoa Italy)
  • medevacs - 2014
  • structural - 2015 (redesigned/stretched by Fincantieri in Palermo Sicily)

October 2022Other Incidents

On October 10, 2022, was announced that MSC Opera was chartered as a cruise ship hotel in Doha (Qatar) for a month (Nov 19 thru Dec 19), joining in Doha the fleetmates MSC World Europa and MSC Poesia.

These MSC hotel ship charters were for housing football fans and tourists visiting Doha for "2022 FIFA World Cup" (Nov 20 - Dec 18), a football championship (FIFA's 22nd edition) featuring 32 teams/64 matches.

The MSC ships remained permanently moored/berthed at Port Doha, with shuttle bus service connecting the cruise port to Doha Metro. MSC's requirement was for a minimum of 2-night stateroom booking (through MSC Cruises or a travel agency/agent), with prices from US$470 per person/per night.

March 2020Cruise Illness / Virus Outbreaks

(Coronavirus) On March 10, 2020, MSC Cruises officially cancelled Opera ship's next scheduled voyage from Genoa. The decision was made after the Italian government implemented new travel restrictions that affected the Lombardy Region (Northern Italy) plus 14 other provinces in central and northern Italy. The result was a quarantine of ~16 million people, which also made impossible for many booked cruise ship tourists to reach Port Genoa (homeport) to board MSC Opera.

The cancelled voyage was an 11-day Mediterranean cruise (itinerary March 10-21) roundtrip from homeport Genoa, with planned call ports Malaga Spain (Mar 12), Funchal Madeira (14), Tenerife Canary Islands (15), Tangier Morocco (17), Cartagena Spain (18) and Civitavecchia-Rome (20).

On March 4, while Opera was docked in Port Piraeus (Athens Greece), the ship's Captain was notified by the Austrian Health Authorities that a former cruiser (Austrian who was on the Feb 17-28 voyage) tested Coronavirus (COVID-19) positive after returning home. The Captain immediately informed all passengers and requested urgent reboarding of all being currently ashore. All booked excursions in Athens were cancelled. Greece allowed the vessel to leave Piraeus as no one on the ship experienced flu-like symptoms. The ship then continued the voyage and docked in the next planned call port Kerkira (Corfu Island, Greece).

The ship was denied entry in Valetta (Malta) due to protests that followed a local media news on the issue. The next berthing was in Messina (Sicily) before the docking in Genoa (March 10) and the cancellation of all ship cruises visiting Italy. On March 10, MSC Opera berthed in Genoa and disembarked all its passengers as scheduled. None of the passengers-crew-staff was experiencing any flu-like symptoms (associated with the Coronavirus).

On March 15, Italian Health Authorities notified MSC Cruises (shipowner) that a crew from MSC Opera was reported Coronavirus-positive after flying back home (in Japan). On March 18, the berthed in Port Genoa vessel (with ~200 crew onboard) reported 7 crew being in isolation after showing flu-like symptoms. On March 21, the number of isolated onboard grew to 13. Of the crew that returned home, 7 tested positive for COVID-19.

02 June 2019Ship Collision / Allision

On June 2, 2019, the docked in downtown Venice Italy (on Giudecca Canal) river cruise ship River Countess (owned by Uniworld) was hit by the maneuvering for berthing MSC Opera. The liner (mastered by Captain Carmine Siviero) ran into the riverboat at 8:30 am (6:30 am UTC) after its engines control got stuck in "on" mode. MSC ship's Navigation Bridge officers on duty continuously sounded its horn. The riverboat was pushed aside from its berth.

The accident resulted in 4 hospitalized injured (none seriously) passengers who tried to disembark the boat and fell into the water dockside. Both vessels sustained only minor hull damages (scratches). According to some news media sources, the liner's forward-portside propeller (in-hull mounted propulsion unit used to move the vessel sideways) was switched on by mistake. The assisting for berthing tugboats tried to hold the large vessel back but it was too heavy and snapped their mooring lines/ropes.

Initially, MSC blamed the shipbuilder (Chantiers de l'Atlantique Shipyard in St Nazaire, France) for possible design flaws. However, the investigation determined that at the moment of the collision, the liner's chief Engineer and Electrician failed to address a warning signal for a main electrical switchboard failure that resulted in steering incapacity/navigation failure. If addressed on time, the allision could've been prevented by stopping the engines.

MSC Opera was finishing a 7-day Mediterranean Cruise (itinerary May 26 - June 2) roundtrip from homeport Venice to Montenegro (Kotor), Greece (islands Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu) and Italy (Bari).

River Countess was ending a 7-day Italy Cruisetour (itinerary May 26 - June 2) from Verona to Venice, Chioggia, Polesella, Chioggia, Venice Islands (Venice Lagoon) and ending in Venice (overnight stay / June 1-2).

Both vessels involved in the collision were expected and cleared to resume their scheduled itineraries. However, the next 6 scheduled River Countess cruises were canceled for repairs.

On June 8, ~5000 protestors (organized by the No Big Ships group) took to the streets in downtown Venice, marching through the city and carrying banners with slogans like "Keep large boats out of the lagoon" (Twitter hashtag NoGrandiNaviVe). Venice's mayor Luigi Brugnaro ordered the opening of the alternative to the Giudecca maritime channel Vittorio Emanuele.

(UPDATE) In January 2020, Uniworld filed a lawsuit against MSC Cruises demanding ~USD 11,5 million (~EUR 10,5M) for the riverboat's structural damages, passenger reimbursement, lost revenue and protection of travel agent commissions. River Countess was later drydocked for repairs in Trieste (Italy) and 14 scheduled river cruises were canceled (June thru September 2019).

(UPDATE) In October 2021, Her Majesty's High Court of Justice (London UK) ruled MSC to pay Uniworld EUR 2,4 million (USD 2,8M / GBP 2,03M) in compensation. Uniworld additionally claimed EUR 7,5 million (USD 8,73M / GBP 6,34M) for non-physical losses - refunds/compensations (~1600 canceled bookings), hospital bills and repatriation (of the injured).

  • Court hearings were held in July 2021 (20 & 21).
  • Claimants (RIVER COUNTESS BV, GRC GRC GLOBAL RIVER CRUISES GmbH, UNIWORLD CRUISES INC) were represented by Devonshires Solicitors LLP (law firm).
  • The Defendant (MSC CRUISE MANAGEMENT UK LTD) was represented by Mills & Co Solicitors Ltd (law firm).
  • Expert reports were provided by Prof Filippo Lorenzon Carrer (claimants) and Prof Mario Barcellona (defendant).

MSC agreed to cover the costs for the damaged boat (salvage, towage and surveyors, naval architects' fees, repairs) but argued that under Italian law it doesn't have to compensate for lost revenues. MSC Opera's Captain, Chief Engineer, Chief Electrician plus two other crew received prison sentences (commuted to monetary fines).

24 March 2019Drug Smuggling

On March 24, 2019, after the liner berthed in Port Funchal (Madeira Island, Portugal), a total of 12 cruise passengers (6 women and 6 men) were arrested and charged with drug trafficking. The total amount of smuggled cocaine was 18 kg (street value ~GBP 2 million / USD 2,6m / EUR 2,3m). The arrested were aged between 2-52. Among them were 1 Dutch and 2 UK nationals.

The drugs were found in the passengers' cabins, stashed in suitcases (packed in chips bags). The operation was conducted by Portugal's Polícia Judiciaria and assisted by UK's NCA (National Crime Agency). Following the arrests, the vessel was cleared to leave port and continue with the scheduled voyage.

The accident occurred at the end of 14-day Transatlantic repositioning cruise (itinerary March 12-26) from Havana (Cuba) to Malaga (Spain), with call ports Philipsburg (St Maarten), St Johns (Antigua) and Funchal (Madeira).

22 March 2018Crew / Passenger Crimes

On March 22, 2018, a 34-year-old female crew was reported missing after failing to reboard the ship in port George Town (Grand Cayman Island). The woman (Yusmaidys Ortiz Perez, Cuban, working on the ship as a bartender) disembarked the liner at 8:15 am but failed to embark at 3:15 pm.

The ship was on 7-day Cuba And Antilles Cruise (itinerary March 19-24) roundtrip from homeport Havana Cuba to Jamaica (Montego Bay), Grand Cayman and Mexico (Cozumel).

(update) On April 3, 2018, the woman was found in West Bay (western Grand Cayman Island), in good health and safety. The woman was immediately arrested and sentenced to 3 months in jail for illegally remaining in the Caymans. 

08 November 2015Crew / Passenger Deaths

(overboard) On November 8, 2015, a 75-year-old female passenger was reported missing and presumed fell overboard. The elderly woman (of Italian origin) was traveling as part of a senior group. She disappeared somewhere between port Civitavecchia-Rome and Genoa, while the ship was at the end of 5-day Mediterranean repositioning cruise (itinerary Nov 3-8) from Venice to Genoa. She was last seen the night before at dinner and found to be missing during passenger disembarkation in Genoa.

The Italian Coastguard conducted a search operation, deploying 3 patrol boats and 2 helicopters, but didn’t find the body.

July 2015Structural and Technical Issues

(lengthening) In May-July 2015, during its Palermo Sicily drydock refit, the cruise ship was stretched. An ~80 ft / 25 m long prefabricated middle-section was added. The refit resulted in an increased passenger capacity (new cabins), new shops, a Water Park with slides and waterfalls. Following the overhaul, the Opera ship re-entered service on July 4, 2015.

The list of other stretched (elongated) cruise ships includes the fleet mates MSC Armonia, MSC Lirica, MSC Sinfonia, the Phoenix Reisen's Albatros, the RCI-'s Enchantment of The Seas and the Fred Olsen's boats Black Watch, Balmoral, Boudicca, Braemar.

01 September 2014Coast Guard Medevacs

On September 1, 2014, a male passenger in critical condition was medevaced from the ship, anchored near Guernsey Island (UK Channel Islands) in the English Channel.

24 September 2013Crew / Passenger Deaths

(overboard) On September 24, 2013, a 33-year-old male crew jumped overboard while the ship was in the English Channel (south of Isle of Wight, England).

The man (Fernandes Elroy, of Indian origin) worked on the ship as a bartender and was reported missing at ~5:30 am. The CCTV camera footage showed him jumping overboard at 1:30 am. The UK Coast Guard assets (2 helicopters and 2 lifeboats) conducted a search and rescue operation but failed to find the body.

17 September 2012Other Incidents

On September 17, 2012, the vessel’s scheduled departure from homeport Venice Italy was delayed by ~8 hours by protests. Other affected cruise ships in Venice (with delayed departures) were the fleet mate MSC Musica and Costa Favolosa.

All the Venice’s waterfront areas were blocked by numerous small boats with hundreds of local protesters. They argued that the growth of big cruise ships stopping in Venice had a negative impact on the city as a travel destination. Large cruise vessels visiting Venice pass too close to Piazza San Marco, and are deemed potential risk for environmental damages or accidents that would hugely impact the city’s historical importance. The issue grew louder since the Costa Concordia sinking (January 2012).

25 May 2011Structural and Technical Issues

On May 25, 2011, the cruise vessel was detained in homeport Southampton England, after failing an MCA inspection. The ship was seized after coming from Gdynia Poland, where it spent a week for drydock repairs after suffering a total power loss near Visby Sweden.

The MCA (UK’s “Maritime and Coastguard Agency”) safety inspectors boarded the ship and after the inspection concluded that it was not fully compliant with the IMO’s safety regulations. The inspectors were concerned about the vessel’s stability and safety, found to be in violation of the ISM code (“International Safety Management” standards for marine vessels).

By the UK’s Merchant Shipping Act from 1995, passenger ships may be detained only if considered “dangerously unsafe”. Later on the same day, the cruise liner was cleared and left Southampton on an 8-day Norway Fjords cruise.

15 May 2011Propulsion / Power Loss

On May 15, 2011, while navigating in Baltic Sea (Northern Europe), the liner suffered an electrical failure to one of its electric panels, causing engine power outage and subsequently total power/propulsion loss and drifting.

The incident occurred approx 6 ml / 10 km off Visby Sweden, and affected the ship’s electricity (blackouts), running water and toilet systems. After the crew failed to fix the problem, the vessel was towed to Nynashamn Sweden (near Stockholm) where the ~1700 passengers were disembarked via tender boats and the same day flown from Stockholm back home. All passengers were fully refunded.

On May 17, the vessel left Nynashamn to Gdynia Poland for drydock repairs. As compensation, all passengers received a free MSC cruise (bookable through Dec 2012). The ship was on 10-day "Baltic Capitals Cruise" (itinerary May 7-17) roundtrip from homeport Southampton to Stockholm Sweden, Helsinki Finland, St Petersburg Russia, Copenhagen Denmark.

25 March 2011Ship Collision / Allision

(pier collision) On March 25, 2011, while operating in South America and upon leaving homeport Buenos Aires Argentina, the cruise vessel collided twice with the pier. The collisions caused minor structure damages on service decks 3 and 4, affecting several of the crew cabins there. The concrete pier suffered also minor damage (a small portion of its corner was broken). No injuries were reported. Due to repairs, the departure was delayed by ~10 hours.

Note: Actually, this type of marine accidents is called “allision” (striking a fixed object) as opposed to “collision” (striking another vessel.

June 2010Cruise Illness / Virus Outbreaks

On June 23, 2010, a major Norovirus outbreak (gastrointestinal illness) affected over 400 passengers on the 10-day Norwegian Fjords cruise (itinerary June 4-14) from homeport Dover UK. All sick suffered from Norovirus symptoms (severe vomiting, diarrhea) and were quarantined to their cabins for 48 hours. All shore excursions and tours in ports of call were fully refunded.

Note: When the itinerary doesn’t include US cruise ports, the ship is not required to report to CDC, thus no official illness report would be issued.

21 May 2010Drug Smuggling

On May 21, 2010, the vessel docked in homeport Dover England, after a Transatlantic repositioning cruise from South America to Europe (Santos Brazil to Amsterdam Holland). The UKBA agents (UK Border Agency) boarded the cruise ship and seized 35 kilos of cocaine (street value ~GBP 1,4 million). They arrested 7 passengers (4 Latvians, 3 Lithuanians) occupying 4 cabins. The passengers were charged with drug smuggling, later convicted and sentenced to a total of 84 years in jail.

21 January 2007Structural and Technical Issues

On January 21, 2007, during passenger embarkation in call port Willemstad Curacao, the ship’s gangway (telescopic bridge) fell into the water after some of the mooring ropes snapped. Fortunately, nobody was present on the gangway when the incident occurred.

The cruise ship was about to leave the port, and obviously, some of the mooring ropes were still connected to the pier. The assisting tugboat had its propeller entangled in one of the ropes, while other floating ropes tangled into the bow thrusters (propulsion units). The ship drifted approx 1 ml / 2 km out to sea before 2 tugboats pushed it back to port. Departure was delayed by ~7 hours due to the operation conducted by divers to remove the ropes under the ship.

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