The NCL Dawn was designed, built and is a cruise ship. Cruise ships within the last ten to fifteen years are constructed with a reduced draft (or draught - hull under the waterline), sometimes a flat bottom hull, lightweight materials, and at a cost which maximizes revenues and profits based on space ratio and density. The Dawn has a draft of 27 feet and again, was purpose built as a cruise ship (vs. Ocean Liner).
The Dawn is NOT an Ocean Liner (eg Queen Mary 2, QE2, etc.) but has a decent draft. Ocean Liners are designed to "weather" the forces generated by large ocean swells, waves, winds, and structural stresses resulting from the heaviest sea conditions. The QM2 has a draft of 32 feet - The Norway has a draft of 34 feet.
The Dawn sails through some of the world's roughest sea conditions; the North Atlantic AND the Gulf Stream. She has managed to perform fairly well through her history of sailings out of New York, through the North Atlantic and Gulf into the South Atlantic - and to date, has been very lucky (albeit the rough seas and late arrivals we have all viewed through via her web cam), but her design does not lend well to the forces of the North Atlantic.
NOTE: Stablizers are not effective at speeds under 14-16 knots, so at 4-6 knots, nothing would have reduced the rocking of the ship.
NOTE: The Dawn's Master and navigational staff were well aware of the conditions which resulted in 20-40 seas enroute to New York prior to the rogue wave.
Without the rogue wave "incident", the sailing (cruise) would have been nothing more than a rough voyage from Miami north - and into a very obvious and evident significant weather system that was destined to generate a very predictable rough transit.
THE ROGUE WAVE IS THE ULTIMATE ISSUE AND ALL PASSENGERS MUST READ THEIR CONTRACT WHICH CONTAINS A DISCLAIMER - Force Majeure. Get your ticket and read it... THE ROGUE WAVE which is in reality the core of the issue at hand was an act of God.
NOTE: Read this definition of Force Majeure: "A French term literally translated as "great force," this clause is included in contracts to remove liability for natural and unavoidable catastrophes that interrupt the expected course of events and restrict participants from fulfilling obligations."
- I do not believe NCL corporate placed pressure on the Master of the Dawn to get to New York regardless of the circumstances. However, the miscalculation of the sea conditions combined with the revised itinerary could have been avoided.
- The Master could have ported the ship knowing that the sea conditions were increasingly building and of a maginitude close or equal to hurricane force - again avoiding the outcome as it ocurred (except for the rogue wave incident).
- Slowing the ships speed is not an excuse for error. If the ship continued cruising at 14-18 knots through those seas, the ship would have been heavily damaged and many people would have been hurt.
LAST WORD: The Dawn consistently sails through large seas and conditions associated with the North Atlantic and has been successful until the past week in maintaining safe passage. The combination of the events that took place including (i) the knowlege by ship's staff that the seas and approaching weather and sea conditions were adverse, (ii) a desire but not demand to arrive in NY early, (iii) and finally, the rogue wave which added insult to injury and can NOT be blamed on human error has culminated in a media and industry disaster. The message is that while cruise lines are in business to make money, and are seeking to lower costs and raise efficiencies, NCL did nothing out of the ordinary and/or compared to any other cruise line that if in the same position, would have ended in the same or similar circumstance.
We are judging a cruise line and the Master of a vessel after the fact. Within reason, and in reality, no one is to blame for these series of events. Cruising, flying, travel, driving and life all have risks...when you go to sea, you trust that the adventure will be pleasant and carefree but remember - the ocean is a power that changes and at times out of the realm or imagination of even the most savvy, experienced sailors...
That's it !