Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit experienced a mechanical issue on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, and as a result, needed tow assistance to safely reach the Port of Piraeus, Greece. Greek maritime authorities responded to the request and the ship safely arrived at the port at approximately 6:30 a.m. local time.

Silver Spirit reportedly suffered damage to one of its main engines, causing difficulty with maneuvering and overall propulsion approximately 8.6 miles (7.5 nautical miles / 13.9 kilometers) southeast of Aegina Island, according to a local report from Ekathimerini, a daily newspaper in Athens.

Aegina Island is part of the Saronic Islands in southern Greece, roughly 15 miles (13 nautical miles / 24 kilometers) southeast of the Port of Piraeus (Athens).

At the time of the incident, Silver Spirit was already en route to Piraeus, finishing a 7-night roundtrip sailing that had visited Santorini, Ephesus, Mykonos, Rhodes, Chania, and Nafplion.

The 581 guests and 404 crew members aboard the luxury cruise ship were safe at all times, and there were no reported interruptions to onboard services or safety systems, as only the ship’s propulsion was impacted.

The 39,519-gross-ton Silver Spirit is one of the older ships in the Silversea Cruises fleet, having debuted in 2009. The ship has undergone regular renovations and dry docks, including a 15-meter (50 feet) lengthening in March 2018. The vessel can welcome 608 guests aboard at double occupancy, or as many as 648 travelers when fully booked with all berths filled.

It is not yet known whether the next cruise – an 11-night roundtrip sailing from Athens with port visits in Turkey, Greece, and Crete – will be impacted by the engine difficulties.

The next cruise is also scheduled to have port of call visits to Haifa and Ashdod in Israel, which may be adjusted due to the current tensions in the region. Coupled with the engine issues, it may be necessary to remove those ports of call as they are the most distant from Athens. If Silver Spirit must maintain slower speeds while repairs are underway, those calls could also be cancelled.

Silver Spirit Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Wirestock Creators)

Depending on the nature of the engine problems and whether or not repairs can be made while the ship is underway, it is also possible that upcoming cruises might need to be cancelled for emergency repairs or a dry dock. Such details have not yet been released.

The Wednesday, October 18, 2023 departure is the ship’s last roundtrip cruise from Athens, after which the ship will reposition to Dubai and begin offering varied sailings to India, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Madagascar, South Africa, and more from various departure ports.

All cruise ships are susceptible to occasional engine difficulties. A cruise ship runs its engines almost continuously, not only for propulsion, but also to generate all power used onboard for lighting, sound systems, air conditioning, cooking, and much more.

Engine problems most often impact a ship’s overall speed or maneuverability, depending on the nature of the difficulties. In these cases, a ship may drop a port visit or two or otherwise adjust times in port to accommodate the change.

If the problem is a worn out or misaligned part, the impact is often minimal and can be corrected fairly quickly. If, however, the engine is damaged more severely – such as happened with Royal Caribbean International’s Radiance of the Seas at the end of the Alaska season – it may require specialized equipment and engineers to make the appropriate repairs.

This could result in several cancelled sailings or more significant changes. The worst case scenario is the need for an urgent dry dock, which would likely cancel multiple sailings as the ship would have to move to the appropriate facilities and undergo emergency repairs.

Stay tuned for updates on Silver Spirit as more details of the ship’s condition and any resulting impact are released.

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