Queen Elizabeth accidents and incidents

Queen Elizabeth cruise ship


Length (LOA)
293 m / 961 ft

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CruiseMapper's Queen Elizabeth cruise ship accidents, incidents and law news reports relate to a 2503-passenger vessel owned by Cunard. Our Queen Elizabeth 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could be arrests, filed lawsuits against the shipowner / cruise line company, charges and fines, grievances, settled / withdrawn legal actions, lost cases, virus outbreaks, etc.

  • propulsion/power loss - 2018
  • deaths - overboard (2015-tender boat)
  • injuries/crimes - sexual (2012-crew, child molestation)
  • medevacs - 2018
  • Norovirus - World Cruise 2013 (80+), World Cruise 2014 (80+), World Cruise 2016 (150+)
  • Coronavirus - 2022 (200+)

February 2023Other Incidents

(CruiseMapper emailed report by Ian Bowie/February 20, 2023)

I can now confirm that, while New Zealand ports are still shown as for the Queen Elizabeth's current itinerary (Feb 14-27), the ship is no longer scheduled by the Port of Auckland to arrive on February 22nd and is heading for Cairns (West Island) where it is now scheduled to be in port on February 21st (0700-1900).

So far as I can ascertain Cunard has not issued any explanatory news release and I have no idea whether the passengers on the ship's third and even more disrupted cruise of the 2022/23 season "to" New Zealand (!) have been offered anything material by way of genuine compensation.

The affected voyage was the 13-day "New Zealand Cruise" (itinerary February 14-27, roundtrip from Melbourne Australia) with scheduled visits to NZ's ports/destinations Fiordland National Park (Feb 17), Port Chalmers/Dunedin (Feb 18), Lyttelton/Christchurch (Feb 19), Wellington (Feb 20), Auckland (Feb 22), and Russell/Bay of Islands (Feb 23).

Note: According to CruiseMapper's satellite AIS data for Queen Elizabeth, instead of the scheduled NZ visits the Cunard liner made stops in the following Australian ports - Eden (Feb 15-16/overnight), Brisbane (Feb 17-18/overnight) and Cairns (ETA arrival Feb 20, 7:30 pm).

January 2023Other Incidents

(CruiseMapper emailed reports by Ian Bowie)

The below content relates to the following three voyages (original itineraries) scheduled for Cunard's boat MS Queen Elizabeth/QE.

  1. (Dec 12, 2022, through January 5, 2023) 14-day "New Zealand Christmas and New Year Cruise" (roundtrip from Melbourne) with planned call ports/destinations Fiordland NP (Dec 25), Port Chalmers/Dunedin (Dec 26), Lyttelton/Christchurch (Dec 27), Wellington (Dec 28), Tauranga (Dec 30), and Auckland (Dec 31-Jan 1/overnight)
  2. (Jan 7-20, 2023) 13-day New Zealand roundtrip from Sydney, with planned call ports Fiordland (Jan 10), Dunedin (Jan 11), Christchurch (Jan 12), Wellington (Jan 13), Tauranga (Jan 15), Auckland (Jan 16), Russell/Bay of Islands (Jan 17).
  3. (Feb 17-27) 13-day New Zealand roundtrip from Melbourne, with planned call ports Fiordland (Feb 17), Dunedin (Feb 18), Christchurch (Feb 19), Wellington (Feb 20), Auckland (Feb 22), Russell/Bay of Islands (Feb 23).

(email 1)

It may be of interest that, using Cruise Mapper, I have been following the movements of “Queen Elizabeth” cruising around New Zealand out of Australian ports.

Early in January I was surprised that the QE which departed Melbourne on 22 December, bypassed Fiordland on 25 December. I wondered why.

Now that I have been on a second voyage, out of Sydney, departing 7 January, I know why: Cunard had failed to meet New Zealand biosecurity requirements and was not allowed to sail in Fiordland waters. It advised its passengers two days before departure that the QE would bypass both Fiordland and Dunedin and have a rearranged itinerary for the rest of the trip, to enable defouling of the  at sea. It turned out that the defouling couldn’t be completed and that, while the ship was ‘allowed’ to enter Tauranga, it was prohibited from entering the Bay of Islands.

This raises a question: does Cruise Mapper have a historical record that tells whether on the first voyage (out of Melbourne) the QE entered Dunedin, Tauranga and Bay or Islands?

Down the track, and given that QE was unable to complete its defouling on its second voyage (out of Sydney), I will be following with interest whether the ship on a third voyage (out of Melbourne) will be allowed to enter Fiordland (17 February), Dunedin (18th), Tauranga (22nd) and Bay of Islands (24th).

(email 2)

Two days before we sailed on the QE from Sydney on 7 January, we were advised by Cunard that the ship wouldn’t sail through Fiordland or stay in Dunedin (Port Chalmers actually), and its stay in Wellington would be brought forward (to 11 January) to give a later day at sea for hull cleaning. This followed emails on the previous days which gave no hint that something was amiss, although I had wondered why Fiordland (and maybe Dunedin, Tauranga, Bay of Islands?) had been bypassed on the voyage from Melbourne.

This came after two months of following what little news I could find online about the QE being refused entry to Bali because of Covid, offloading 50 passengers at Perth (hence keeping around 200 on board for later disembarkation), having weather problems in southwest Western Australia and being unable to dock at Burnie because of wind – all at a time when other cruise lines were having covid and wind issues in Australia/New Zealand and had reported the first (of at least eight) ships to be caught up with NZ biosecurity regulations.

In response to our email query, Cunard emailed us on the 6th assuring us that there would be no further adjustments to our itinerary. In fact, after the day of drifting at sea on 14 January, the hull cleaning was not complete, and we were advised on board that while the ship was allowed to enter Tauranga our itinerary would be further adjusted to take out a stop at Russell/Bay of Islands.  Cunard put a 100 USD credit per passenger on our on-board accounts and, subsequently allowed a Future Cruise credit of 50% of what each passenger had paid for this voyage.

We left home in a state of trepidation rather than excitement about this voyage and much anger about Cunard’s casual treatment of the incident – and frustration at how little was being reported in the news media. Once on board, the inevitable gossip revealed a great deal of disappointment about the fact that the biosecurity issues had arisen, about the casual approach to forewarning passengers (some did not know until they had boarded), about the second itinerary change and about the pitiful redress offered by Cunard.

To judge from online reporting (and I have not seen what is on a facebook group, cunarddownunder) many passengers are more than disappointed, await more than the single written advice about redress (and report that one company, Azamara, when advising a similar rescheduling offered passengers a full refund should they have wished to cancel), and the general understanding seems to be that Cunard has simply followed other cruise lines in hoping to flout biosecurity regulations that have been in place since 2018.

My position on all of this is basically that I’d like debacles like this to be better reported in the news media. Others have talked (online) of legal action but I will not be interested in that. What do interest me are (1) how will cruise lines generally respond to New Zealand’s biosecurity challenge and (2) how will Cunard address the likelihood of its being unable to enter Fiordland, Tauranga and Bay of Islands (etc) on its 13 February voyage to New Zealand.

November 2022Cruise Illness / Virus Outbreaks

(Coronavirus) The scheduled for November 28, 2022, docking in Benoa (Bali Indonesia) was canceled and the ship was diverted to Fremantle-Perth (Western Australia) due to a COVID outbreak.

The WA government commented that it had received information that 10-15% of the passengers (2081 lower berths) are COVID-positive.

The outbreak occurred during a 17-day voyage from Sydney NSW to Fremantle (itinerary Nov 15 - Dec 2) with call ports in Queensland (Airlie Beach, Cairns, Port Douglas), Northern Territory (Darwin), and Indonesia (Benoa/canceled). Due to the itinerary change, MS Queen Elizabeth arrived in Fremantle earlier (on Nov 30th).

Cunard Line announced that 95% of the passengers above the age of 12 were vaccinated. Free rapid antigen tests were provided to all passengers. The positive cases were quarantined onboard for 5 days and allowed to leave their staterooms only after returning a negative test.

17 August 2018Propulsion / Power Loss

(CruiseMapper email) On August 17, 2018, the liner experienced engine problems resulting in reduced cruising speed and itinerary changes. Call port Isafjordur (Iceland) was dropped and instead, the ship arrived in Reykjavik (Iceland) earlier than scheduled. Call port Stornoway (Isle of Lewis and Harris, Scotland) was also canceled and replaced with Killybegs (Ireland).

The accident occurred during 12-day Norway and Iceland cruise (itinerary Aug 10-22) roundtrip from homeport Southampton to Rotterdam, Bergen, Olden, Akureyri, Isafjord (canceled), Reykjavik, Stornoway (canceled) and Belfast.

04 March 2018Coast Guard Medevacs

On March 4, 2018, a 71-year-old female passenger was medevaced from the ship approx 50 ml / 80 km east of Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef). The elderly woman (from the USA) suffered a stroke. She was airlifted by an RACQ Capricorn helicopter crew at 4:15 pm and flown to Rockhampton Hospital in stable condition.

The liner was en-route from Brisbane to Rabaul PNG. The incident occurred during the Cunard World Cruise 2018 from Southampton.

March 2016Cruise Illness / Virus Outbreaks

In March 2016, a Chinese (Hong Kong) news media reported over 150 passengers and crew on the ship suffering from Norovirus symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea). Another 27 people were quarantined to their cabins as a precautionary measure. The incident occurred during Cunard World Cruise 2016. The ship docked in Hong Kong on March 30 and left the same day for Singapore.

(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.)

01 April 2015Crew / Passenger Deaths

(overboard) On April 1, 2015, a 75-year-old female passenger died after falling overboard from a tender boat. The accident occurred during passenger tendering / boarding operation in call port Sihanoukville Cambodia (Southeast Asia), where the vessel was anchored.

The elderly woman (Mary Atherton, of British origin) was disembarking a tender boat when an unexpected wave caused her to fall. Two crew immediately jumped in the water to rescue her, but the woman was crushed between the boat and the pontoon. She was pronounced dead at the ship’s infirmary. The vessel was on 112-days Cunard World Cruise roundtrip from homeport Southampton England (itinerary Jan 10 to May 2). After this incident, Cunard developed a ramp prototype to bridge the tender-pontoon gap.

February 2014Cruise Illness / Virus Outbreaks

In February 2014, a UK news media reported 80+ passengers affected by a Norovirus outbreak on the ship. The illness incident happened on Cunard World Cruise 2014 (14-day itinerary segment Singapore to Dubai (Apr 5 to 19). No CDC report was issued.

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.

March 2013Cruise Illness / Virus Outbreaks

In March 2013, a news media reported 84 passengers (or ~4% of all) suffering from Norovirus. The illness outbreak occurred on a 36-day World Cruise segment in the South Pacific Ocean.

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.

14 February 2012Crew / Passenger Crimes

(sexual) On February 14, 2012, the UK police arrested a 34-year-old male crew, who was later charged with child molestation and child pornography possession. The man (Paul Trotter, of UK origin) worked for ~5 years as a Youth Counselor on all three Cunard ships – including Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. He was employed to supervise the kids' activities at the ship’s PlayZone (the kids play areas on Spa Deck 10).

During the investigation, on his computer were found films (made by him) showing who he abuses 13 different minor boys.

(law news) On April 20, 2012, the accused admitted he sexually abused at least 13 kids in the period between Nov 2007 and Aug 2011. The man pleaded guilty on 12 counts of sexually assaulting underage children, 1 count of sexual activity with an underage child, and also 5 counts of taking-, 5 counts of making- and 1 count of possessing indecent images of a child.

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