MSC Opera Hits Uniworld's River Countess in Venice

The MSC Magnifica cruise ship passes by the tourist boat, foreground, bottom right, that was struck by a towering cruiser, foreground right, in Venice, Italy.
The MSC Magnifica cruise ship passes by the tourist boat, foreground, bottom right, that was struck by a towering cruiser, foreground right, in Venice, Italy. // Photo by AP Photo/Luca Bruno via Newscred

Just a week after a tragic accident involving a river cruise vessel and sightseeing boat in Budapest,Hungary, another water accident occurred in Venice, Italy, on Sunday—this time between a large oceangoing vessel and a docked river vessel.  

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection released a statement early Sunday morning, stating that its ship River Countess was docked at the San Basilio Cruise Terminal in Venice when it “was hit by the MSC Opera, a large oceangoing ship.”

Uniworld’s statement also said: “Four guests with minor injuries were escorted to the hospital by Italian-speaking Uniworld staff. No crew members were injured. The accident occurred after most guests of the 130-passenger River Countess had disembarked and were transferring for flights home.”

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A YouTube video posted just after the accident shows the large oceangoing MSC Opera moving toward the much smaller River Countess; that same video clip also showed people running alongside on the dock and trying to get out of the way. 

The river line’s technical and nautical crisis response team members are now traveling to Venice to thoroughly evaluate River Countess and take any necessary action. There is no word as yet about the impact on this week’s sailing.

“Guests slated to arrive today have been informed and are under the care of Uniworld," the statement said. For example, the river line is providing those guests with hotel accommodations. Uniworld said it will make additional updates as information becomes available. 

Launched in 2004, the MSC Opera is a 65,591-gross-ton oceangoing ship that can accommodate 2,150 guests. On Sunday morning, Luxury Travel Advisor received this statement from MSC Cruises' U.S. press office: 

"Earlier this morning, at around 8.30 AM CET, MSC Opera—while maneuvering towards Venice’s VTP cruise terminals for mooring—experienced a technical issue. Albeit the ship was accompanied by two tugs, she grazed the dock at San Basilio. This also caused a collision with a river boat that was moored there.

"The investigations to understand the exact causes of the events are currently in progress. Regarding these, the company is working closely with the local maritime and other authorities."

The MSC statement continued: "The ship has in the meantime received authorization to move to be moored at the Marittima terminal, as planned. She is now moored there and has begun passenger operations."

Several emergency workers told European media that the MSC ship appeared to have lost control after a steel cable tying it to a tugboat had snapped. Stay tuned for updates. 

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