SS La Venezia accidents and incidents

SS La Venezia cruise ship

Former names
River Countess

Length (LOA)
110 m / 361 ft

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CruiseMapper's SS La Venezia cruise ship accidents, incidents and law news reports relate to a 132-passenger vessel owned by Uniworld. Our SS La Venezia 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could be arrests, filed lawsuits against the shipowner / cruise line company, charges and fines, grievances, settled / withdrawn legal actions, lost cases, virus outbreaks, etc.

  • ship collision - 2019 (with MSC Opera in Venice Italy)

In the period 2003-2020, the riverboat was operated under the name "River Countess".

02 June 2019Ship Collision / Allision

On June 2, 2019, the cruise ship River Countess, docked in downtown Venice Italy (on Giudecca Canal), was hit by the maneuvering for berthing ocean liner MSC Opera. The 2700-passenger liner 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 accident 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 voyages on River Countess were canceled for repairs.

(CruiseMapper emailed accident report by James Halliwell) We were on the top Sun Deck of River Countess having a coffee enjoying the beautiful sunshine and view into the Grand Canal of Venice. My Wife Ruth saw MSC Opera with the tug ship coming along the canal and took a photo on her phone. After a few minutes, she said it looks like it is coming straight towards us. Then we thought it was strange they started to drop anchor.

MSC Opera didn't slow, then we heard the blaring of their horn and Ruth said 'we better get off'. Not sure how many others were upstairs but we all headed for the metal staircase down to the deck next to the gangplank. I was almost at the bottom and bang. I fell forward a few steps landing on my knee and fell on the deck. My wife was only a few steps from the top and when the first collision happened she fell forward, flipped over on the way down landing on her back on the deck next to me with one foot caught in the steps and screaming in pain. We saw the front of the MSC Opera pass the rail but as Ruth’s foot was caught in the bottom steps, I was unable to drag us inside hoping it was far enough away before the ship crashed the side of our boat. As it passed I saw the anchor swinging towards us and thought 'that's it'.

MSC Opera keep passing us and the chain finally dropped below where we were lying. It seems like forever as the ship kept passing us and finally it stopped. With assistance from the River Countess crew we were able to get Ruth inside. Chaos inside with the crew checking for injured passengers and crew. Plenty of hugs and tears as passengers and crew found friends and loved ones safe. Broken glass and debris everywhere.

Not long before there were lots of Police boats, Coast Guard, water ambulance etc circling to assist. As the MSC Opera was wedged between the dock and River Countess the injured had to be rescued from the canal side into a rescue boat. Couldn't use the Water Ambulance as it was too far a drop from the deck of our boat to the Ambulance, particularly with Ruth's back injury. The Water Ambulance lead the way back to the hospital on the other side of Venice. Part of Ruth's injury is the hematoma to the lung has lead to blood into the lung and partly collapsed lung which is recovering very slowly.

If the collision had have been on the canal side of River Countess and not the dockside we would have been crushed against the dock and !!!!!!!!!!!

(UPDATE) In January 2020, Uniworld filed a lawsuit against MSC Cruises demanding ~USD 11,5 million (~EUR 10,5 M) for the boat'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).

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