Ruby Princess cruise ship won’t depart San Francisco until Sunday after being damaged during docking at Pier 27, company says

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The saga of the Ruby Princess cruise ship has a new development. The ship damaged during a docking accident won’t depart San Francisco for Alaska until Sunday, according to the cruise line.

The ship’s captain told passengers Friday that repairs to the hull likely won’t be complete until Saturday.

Anita Lawhon from Reno says eating has been about the only thing to do on board the Ruby Princess, as passengers wait to depart. She shot video on board the ship Friday afternoon and spoke to us from the ship’s stern.

“It’s only been a day so everyone’s okay at this point, but I think people are getting antsy and ready to go,” said Lawhon.

We saw crews from the Port of San Francisco and Coast Guard inspecting the hole in the vessel and repairs which have been done so far.

“Our main concern is the vessel able to transport passengers and operate safety,” said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Levi Read.

“They do say work is being done but I am standing above the hole, I can’t see the hole but I do know nothing is going on with it,” said passenger Dan Faltings.

Faltings from Livermore was trying to keep his cool but says it’s not easy watching your vacation tick away.

“I feel like if we’re still here tomorrow, I’m going to be at guest services asking for my money back and get off this boat,” said Faltings.

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“Completely ruined it. Ruined it, big time,” said Henry Barela.

Anger from many passengers on the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

“They’re taking away Glacier Bay. Everyone says go to Glacier Bay. That’s not going to occur,” said Jim Simpson.

Simpson is onboard with his wife and grandkids.

We first met Thursday talking to each other via phone from his stateroom balcony, just as the delays were getting started.

He tells ABC7 News despite the inconvenience, he’s trying to be understanding.

“Things get beyond your control. And I think that’s where a lot of it is right now,” Simpson said.

Some passengers say the cruise line’s offerings and discounts make up for their loss of vacation.

“With their offering, it’s pretty substantial to kind of overlook the problem,” said Brian Perry.

But not so for others.

“Why would I want to? I’ll take another cruise line instead if I want to do that,” said Barela.

Pat Madea and her daughter Allie flew in from Georgia and Florida with their group of 10 family members.

They say while they’re choosing to stay onboard, they can only hope the experience is worth it.

“I said you’re going to go to places you’ve never dreamed of. It’s totally different of everything you’ve seen. And now we’re not really going to see that. So, yeah, there’s disappointment there,” Madea said.

The delayed 10-day sailing will now be a 7-day cruise returning to San Francisco on Sunday, July 16.

Princess Cruises says guests who elect to cancel their cruise will receive a 100% refund of their cruise fare, post-cruise hotel packages and transfers booked through Princess, prepaid shore excursions and other prepaid items and taxes, fees and port expenses. Each guest will also receive a 50% Future Cruise Credit of the cruise fare paid on this voyage, which may be applied to any future Princess cruise that is booked by February 1, 2024 and sails by February 1, 2025. They may remain onboard until 1100 local time on Sunday, July 9 to better assist with alternative plans they may be making.

Guests who continue with their Princess vacation will receive a 75% refund of the cruise fare paid as well as unused pre-paid shore excursions booked through Princess and the refundable portion of the taxes, fees and port expenses for the missed ports. Each guest will also receive a 75% Future Cruise Credit equal to the cruise fare paid on this voyage, which may be applied to any future Princess cruise that is booked by February 1, 2024and sails by February 1, 2025.

This is a breaking news update. Previous story follows.

A 10-day voyage to Alaska, which was set to sail at 4 p.m. on Thursday, was still docked in San Francisco on Friday morning.

The Ruby Princess, which is operated by Princess Cruises, made contact with Pier 27 on Thursday. The collision caused damage to the hull of the ship and the dock.

Overnight and early morning repair work put crews on a crane, putting them close enough to patch up damage.

Crews welded the hole shut and are now waiting for the Coast Guard to give the all clear before they can set sail to Alaska.

The hole in the Ruby Princess cruise ship was repaired Friday, July 7, 2023.

The hole in the Ruby Princess cruise ship was repaired Friday, July 7, 2023.

“It definitely looks like it got a good repair on there,” Robin Richardson told ABC7 News. “Because there was a big hole yesterday. So, hopefully that’ll do it!”

Richardson was on-board at the time of impact and wrapped up a 10-day Alaskan voyage herself. However, this new round of passengers has remained docked on Day 1 of their trip, when they’d otherwise be on open water.

“Going underneath the Golden Gate Bridge and starting our cruise and being happy about it,” Richardson described of Day 1. “But they’re sitting here and not starting their cruise. So, that’s unfortunate.”

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Passengers who boarded the ship Thursday have been asked to stay on board and not come ashore. There are 3,256 guests and 1,161 crew onboard as the ship remains docked at Pier 27.

The captain came over the loud speaker Friday and announced that they hope to leave soon, plan to accommodate the passengers for the lost day, and asked for patience.

By the captain’s 8 a.m. update, the Ruby Princess was patched up. By 9 a.m., Princess Cruises was still awaiting clearance from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Passenger Jennifer Ding spoke with us from aboard the ship.

“This was probably about 4-6 months in the making for us,” she explained. “We have birthdays, anniversaries, and I’m currently pregnant and expecting. So there’s a lot that we’re celebrating on this cruise,” she said.

Ding described the atmosphere as optimistic- hopeful they’ll depart today despite the delay.

“Everyone that I’ve encountered has been in good spirits,” Ding told ABC7 News. “We just had breakfast with two other couples and they were all in good spirits.”

The crash is something Captain Allan Post with the Texas A&M Maritime Academy said is not uncommon in the maritime world, especially when operating large ships.

“The Ruby Princess is about 950 feet long and about 115,000-tons,” Capt. Post pointed out. “With that much weight and that much sail area, the vessel is affected by wind, by current, and by the technical abilities of its design.”

Princess Cruises addressed what it’s calling a “goodwill gesture of compensation.” However, it’s unknown exactly what that will look like for the thousands of passengers impacted.

In an 8:45 a.m. statement on Friday, Princess Cruises said it is in, “Continued discussions with the U.S. Coast Guard regarding clearance for Ruby Princess to depart San Francisco and while we are confident the ship will be cleared to sail today, the time of departure is still being finalized.”

Investigation into the bar pilot

We’re learning more about the Ruby Princess pilot. In some ways, this is an elite group. There aren’t many bar pilots, 52 at the moment with four trainees in the pipeline according to the Board of Pilot Commissioners Executive Director.

The investigation into what went wrong with the Ruby Princess during docking at San Francisco’s Pier 27 Thursday morning is in the early fact-finding phase.

“It appears the port quarter of the Ruby Princess made contact with Pier 27,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander William Williams.

The Coast Guard which is assisting in the investigation says the pilot is being drug and alcohol tested which is standard in a serious marine incident.

“The Coast Guard has sent two teams, an investigations team and an inspection port state control team to the vessel and will be conducting those inspections and investigations,” said Williams.

The San Francisco Bar Pilots are responsible for safely navigating ships they board over the offshore sand bar to docks throughout the Bay Area.

A Spokesperson working with the San Francisco Bar Pilots tells ABC7 News, “We can confirm a pilot was involved in a hard landing at Pier 27 this morning. We are cooperating with all necessary agencies in looking into this matter and cannot comment further.”

The Board of Pilot Commissioners tells ABC7 News the pilot is on the Pilot Evaluation Committee which is responsible for trainees and that anyone on that committee would have to be a pilot more than 10 years.

The investigation is now in the hands of the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies who were notified about the early morning incident.

ABC7 News reporters Tim Johns, Suzanne Phan, Melanie Woodrow, Amanda del Castillo and Cornell Barnard contributed to this report.

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