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What happens after a cruise ship hits an iceberg

A Norwegian Cruise Line ship that struck a small iceberg last month will return to service this week, the company said on Monday.

The ship “touched ice” while en route to Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier on June 25, prompting several trip cancellations, although there were no injuries, a spokesman for cruise line USA TODAY said via email Monday . The ship will set sail again on July 14.

The incident could raise questions about what exactly happens after a ship hits an iceberg. But Ross Klein, a cruise industry expert and professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, told USA TODAY that it “really depends on where the iceberg hits the ship and what kind of damage it did.”

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What happens after a cruise ship hits an iceberg?

Norwegian made several changes to the Sun’s itinerary after it hit the iceberg.

“The ship proceeded to Juneau, Alaska for further assessment, where a decision was made to shorten the current voyage and cancel the cruise scheduled for June 30, 2022 to allow necessary repairs to be made,” the Norwegian spokesman said. The cruise line also canceled a voyage that was scheduled to begin on July 5.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and are communicating directly with all affected guests,” the spokesman added.

Klein said such itinerary changes are to be expected if a ship is damaged. He said if the ice damages the ship’s propulsion system, “it creates a bigger problem than a dent in the side.”

Klein added that the speed a ship is traveling at plays a role in what type of damage it takes. If a ship has been damaged, the US Coast Guard must also inspect and evacuate it.

Where are cruise ships repaired?

After a ship hits an iceberg, Klein said where the cruise line takes it for repairs depends in part on where it’s going.

Victoria, British Columbia in Canada, for example, has a shipyard dry dock that is often used by cruise ships, he said. “They are (in) different locations, and part of that depends on whether there’s space available, but the other part has to do with proximity to the ship.”

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How often do cruise ships hit icebergs?

While ships regularly come into contact with ice, it is uncommon for this to be a problem. Stewart Chiron, a cruise industry expert known as The Cruise Guy, told USA TODAY last month that the incident was “extraordinarily rare” because cruise lines are taking extreme caution to avoid icebergs.

Chiron said it’s common for ice to fall from glaciers and float in water, but it’s uncommon for a cruise line to change its itinerary after coming into contact with these pieces. “Sometimes they nudge them, and you know, no big deal,” Chiron said.

Klein agreed. “I think it’s not uncommon for ships to interact with ice,” he said. “What’s unusual is that the ship was actually physically damaged by the ice.”

However, given the rarity of these events, passengers planning to take a cruise shouldn’t worry, he said. “I wouldn’t worry,” he said.