How Many Cruise Ships Have Sunk in the Past 100 Years?

Last updated on January 11th, 2024 at 10:24 am

Cruises are one of the safest options for vacations, but in the past 100 years there have been some incidents with cruise ships sinking. Here are some notable ones in the past 100 years.

Titanic (1912)  The most famous cruise ship sinking in history, the Titanic sank after colliding with an iceberg.

Empress of Ireland (1914) This large passenger liner sank after colliding with a Norwegian cargo ship, the Storstad, during foggy weather. 

Lusitania (1915)  For a few months before her sinking, the Lusitania was the largest passenger ship in the world. A casualty of WWI, she was hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat off the south coast of Ireland. 

Britannic (1916) Sister ship of the Titanic, during WWI she struck a German naval mine off the coast of a Greek island and sank in less than an hour.  

Princess Mafalda (1927) When a propeller shaft broke and damaged the hull of the ship, the Princess Mafalda sank off the coast of Brazil. 

Saint Philibert (1931) A smaller cruise ship, the Saint Philibert sailed mainly in the Loire River and the French coastline. She sank in bad weather, but was also overloaded with twice her capacity on board. 

Georges Philippar (1932) Unfortuanlety, this ocean liner sank on her maiden voyage. There was an electrical fault that sparked and set wood paneling on fire causing her to sink near Italian Somaliland. 

SS Morro Castle (1934) A fire on board would disable the ship as it burned through the electrical cables and hydraulic lines that steered the ship. Her captain had died the evening before of an apparent heart attack. The burning ship drifted ashore in the shallow waters off Asbury Park in New Jersy, USA. 

Empress of Britian (1940)  Another victim of war, The ship was bombed from above in WWII when she was off the coast of Ireland. She was hit by two 550lb bombs.

Andrea Doria (1956) Struck by another ship, the Stockholm, the Andrea Doria began to list at once. This made most of the lifeboats inaccessible. However, because the ship sank slowly there were fourty six people killed, but 1660 passengers and crew were saved by rescue ships. 

Bianca C (1961) The Bianca has the dubious distinction of being sunk twice. As a passenger ferry, it was scuttled by the Germans in WWII. When she was sold to Costa Lines and refitted as a cruise ship, she sank for the second time when there was an explosion in the engine room. 

Angelina Lauro (1979) This ship caught fire in port at Saint Thomas. The ship burned for several days and was a total loss. While being towed to a scrapyard later that year, the Angelina Lauro sank.

MS Mikhail Lermentov (1986)  On a cruise from Sydney that was on a two-week itinerary to New Zealand, the ship hit some rocks while sailing past Cape Jackson.

SS Admiral Nakhimov (1986) While operating cruises in the Black Sea, this ship collided with a freighter. They had communicated with the freighter’s captain who had assured the SS Nakhimov that they would be able to avoid a collision.

MV Jupiter  (1988)  This Greek-registered ship conducted cruises around the Mediterranean. She sank just 40 minutes after leaving Piraeus with a study cruise. There were 391 British schoolchildren and 84 adults on the ship, along with 110 crew. One child, one teacher and two crew died.

Achille Lauro  (1988)  The Achille Lauro had several unfortunate events including a hijacking, two collisions with other ships and four onboard fires. The last fire sank the ship off the coast of Somalia.

MTS Oceanos  (1991)  This ship, sailing from Greece, sank from excessive flooding that was caused by freak waves. It is believed that the waves broke a ventilation pipe that had not been correctly repaired and caused the flooding to be severe. To their shame, the captain and some crew abandoned the ship. It was the entertainers on the ship who gave alarm and guided passengers to safety. The captain and crew members were later convicted.

Sun Vista  (1999) The sun set on this ship due to an engine room fire. The fire cut all power to the ship’s operating mechanisms and she sank in the Strait of Malacca.

SeaBreeze  (2000)  The boiler in the ship broke off and damaged the ship. This happened in 30-foot seas, which caused the ship to take on water and capsize. The ship had no passengers on board as she was headed into port for engine repairs.

Britanis  (2000)  While being towards a scrapyard in India, this ship began to take on water and list. As there was no one on board, the list was not corrected. The tugboat towing Britianis cut the ship free and it capzied and sank off the coast of Cape Town.

MV Explorer  (2007)  A small cruise ship, the MV Explorer was the first cruise ship that was specifically used for cruises to the Antarctic Ocean. She struck an iceberg and sank. Her passengers and crew made it to the lifeboats and were rescued after drifting for five hours.

MS Sea Diamond  (2007)  Striking a reef 430 feet from shore, the Captain was blamed and jailed for this sinking. The sea charts he was using were incorrect, and had stated that the reefs were 187 feet from shore off the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea. 

Costa Concordia  (2012)  In modern history, the Costa Concordia is the most famous cruise ship that has sunk. It struck an underwater rock off the coast of Tuscany. The Captain was also blamed for taking the ship off course and too close to the shore line. He was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Eastern Star  (2015)  This Chinese river cruise ship was caught in a storm as she was sailing to Chongqing. The ship sank in just 50 feet of water, but only 12 people of the 456 onboard survived.

Ocean Dream  (2016)  This ship has many owners and about half a dozen names. After having been abandoned in Thailand for over a year, she sank when she capsized. 

Orient Queen  (2020)  The Orient Queen would sail from Beirut to the eastern Mediterranean. While in port, with no passengers on board, the ship sank after there was a huge ammonium nitrate explosion at the port. Other ships also in port were damaged, but the Orient Queen was the only one to sink. 


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