Posted by: cruise2 | 22 June, 2015

Freak Accident In The Seaway

by Kevin Griffin writing for

In a freak accident on the US side of the St Lawrence Seaway last Thursday, June 18, the 210-berth Saint Laurent charged into a lock gate protector on the Eisenhower Lock at Massena NY while upbound from Montreal to Toronto. At the time, the ship was operating under charter to Paris-based Rivages du Monde and had on board 192 passengers and 81 crew.

According to the ship’s managers, Fleetpro Ocean of Miami, 19 passengers and three crew were taken to hospital, suffering from minor injuries sustained in the impact. While passengers spent the night on board in the emptied lock chamber, one passenger and a crew member were said to have been retained for further observation.

Two cruise ships at a Seaway lock is a rare occurrence, but this shot captures the 210-berth Saint Laurent in the lock and 64-berth Canadian Empress at the tie-up wall

Two cruise ships at a Seaway lock is a rare occurrence, but this shot captures the 210-berth Saint Laurent in the lock and 64-berth Canadian Empress at the tie-up wall

The lock had been emptied as a precaution to prevent the ship from sinking and tying up the waterway. In the event, however, the Seaway was closed for 42 hours.

After divers inspected the damage, Saint Laurent was freed on Saturday afternoon with the help of a tug from Montreal. Damage was restricted to the bow and Saint Laurent departed Massena yesterday under her own power, bound for repair at the Verreault shipyard at Les Méchins, Quebec, where she is due at 1300 hours to-morrow.

Saint Laurent had opened the Montreal cruise season this year with her first cruise of the season boarding on May 12, after arriving from a $3.5 million refit in Charleston, and sailing the following day. Prior to re-entering service, the ship had spent most of her time in lay-up, first under the ownership of the US Maritime Administration as Cape May Light, after the failure of original owners Delta Queen Coastal Voyages, and then as Sea Voyager under present owners, Bahamas-based Clipper Group, who acquired this ship and her sister ship Sea Discoverer in 2008.

The 210-berth Saint Laurent. In this pic she is moored in Montreal

The 210-berth Saint Laurent. Here she is moored in Montreal

Aside from a few weeks service as Cape May Light in 2001, her only work has been as an accommodation ship, first for workers after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, then at a mining project in Deception Bay, Quebec, in 2011, and later that same year as a student residence for a college near Baltimore.

Passengers on board the present cruise, which boarded in Montreal last Wednesday, were refunded and flown back to Paris this weekend. It now appears that her June 26 cruise too will have to be cancelled, meaning the loss of two of their ten St Lawrence and Great Lakes cruises for Rivages this summer. Her usual itinerary for Rivages is a 9-night circuit, sailing from Montreal to Kingston, Toronto, Port Weller (for Niagara), Clayton NY, Quebec and Trois Rivières.

If repairs can be completed on time, her next cruise is due to be a July 5 departure from Montreal to Chicago for head charterers Haimark Line of Chicago and Colorado. After returning from Chicago to Montreal for Haimark, half a dozen more cruises are planned by Rivages du Monde, departing Montreal on July 23, September 6, 15 and 24 and October 3 and 12.

It is not yet known what caused the accident, but the vessel must have been travelling at some speed in the lock in order to cause the damage, with her bow stove in by about ten feet when she hit the ship arrester, a device meant to protect the lock gate from damage.


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