Mona Lisa Holiday Kreuzfahrt Cruise Ship Grounding Irbe Strait – The cruise ship Mona Lisa was on its way from Kiel, Germany, to Riga Latvia on May 4, 2008 with 984 passengers on board when it ran aground, officials said. Mona Lisa grounded after she got stuck while passing through the Irbe Strait between Latvia and the Estonian island of Saaremaa.
The captain of the ship worked to get the stranded ship off the sandbar on Sunday, without results. Monday, the evacuation of passengers and crew began in hopes that the crew would be able to lighten the load of the ship, allowing it to rise in the water.
Passengers began evacuating my climbing down ladders to waiting rescue vessels.
Of the 984 aboard 651 were passengers, most of them elderly Germans.
The rescued were being transferred from the Mona Lisa onto two naval ships, which would take them to Ventspils, a port city in northwestern Latvia, the Latvian coast guard said.
Four tug boats had worked to free the Mona Lisa from the sandbar, but were unsuccessful.
In 2002 she was sold by P&O and sailed for Holiday Kreuzfahrten as Mona Lisa until 2006.
Holiday Kreuzfahrt declared bankrupt in 2006.
In 2007, the ship was chartered by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCI) and was renamed Oceanic II.
From April 30 to May 28, 2007, Louis Hellenic Cruises sub-chartered the ship as a temporary replacement for the MV Sea Diamond, which went aground off the coast of Santorini, Greece and then sank.
Following this she was operated by Pullmantur Cruises (a subsidiary of RCCI since 2006) for the 2007 northern hemisphere summer season.
The ship was refitted to become an educational vessel for The Scholar Ship international education program, a cooperative venture between seven major world universities and RCCI.
Oceanic II reverted to the name Mona Lisa sometime before April 2008, when it began offering public cruises again.
A letter of intent has been signed between the current owners of Oceanic II and Swedish entrepreneur Lars Hallgren for the acquisition of the ship in 2010 to become a floating hotel.
UPDATE: May 9, 2008
Four tugboats freed the cruise ship Mona Lisa on Wednesday, May 7th, three days after it ran aground.
The ship was to be towed to the seaport of Ventspils.
All Passengers were evacuated and sent home by plane from Riga on Tuesday.
Cause of the accident was “a very big navigational error,” Latvian Maritime Administration spokeswoman Sarma Kocane said. Crew error was named as the reason for the grounding.