Liner Arrives in Philadelphia Berth Two Days Late
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Moving slowly under its own power after being shoved off a sand bar, and minus 885 passengers it had brought from Jamaica, the luxury liner Regent Star docked in Philadelphia Tuesday evening.
The ship, still carrying about 400 crew members, arrived at Penn’s Landing on the Delaware River about 7 p.m.
The 642-foot ship had been heading for Philadelphia’s Pier 84 after a seven-day cruise from Jamaica when a fire early Sunday knocked out its steering and the ship ran aground in the Delaware Bay.
It was stuck in 22 feet of water for nearly two days, leaving some passengers partying while others were frustrated, angry and even a bit afraid. On Monday night, the passengers were ferried to the Delaware shore. No one was hurt.
″I was scared,″ admitted Dorothy Klausmeyer of Baltimore after the liner struck the sandbar, couldn’t get off and temporarily lost lights and power.
″The trip was wonderful, even running amok, it was wonderful,″ said Marjorie Ponder, Trenton, N.J., another passenger. ″Any traveler knows you can expect anything at any time.″
″The crew did the best they could,″ agreed Lynn Harris of New York City, ″but once the Coast Guard took over everything seemed to happen faster.″
She said there were some passengers who talking about suing ″but, for me, the overall experience was interesting. I like adventure.″
Some passengers complained about the $15-a-minute charge to call worried relatives from the ship.
The passengers were finally ferried to Lewes, Del., where 23 buses took them to their cars parked at airports and bus stations in the Philadelphia, Baltimore-Washington and New York City areas.
Ferry terminal manager Gerald Hitchens said the passengers were ″quite understanding.″
″I didn’t see that many people upset. They understood the situation,″ he said.
Ms. Harris said the end of the adventure was memorable.
″As the ferry pulled away from the ship, the entire staff and crew was on the deck waving goodbye to us, and the band playing ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’ It was a beautiful moment,″ she said.
Mary Poniatowsky, Baltimore, said ″I had a beautiful time″ even though she is a teetotaler and didn’t drink any of the free booze cruise officials offered.
The Regent Star got off the sandbar with the help of high tides, several tugboats and power from the ship’s own engines.
Before the refloating, fuel was transferred to upper tanks. The Coast Guard had feared the ship’s anchor could rupture the lower fuel tanks.
Coast Guard Petty Officer David Oney said the liner will undergo further inspection by the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board at Philadelphia.
A preliminary inspection Tuesday morning at Big Stone Beach in lower Delaware Bay found no serious damage, he said.
″Engineering controls were OK,″ Oney said. ″That was when approval was granted to bring the ship into Philadelphia.″
It might be months before a final report on the accident, he said.