How Often Do Cruise Ships Sink? [Facts]

Are you planning for your next cruise voyage and excited about it? But one question that pricks every cruiser is how often cruise ships sink.

Cruise ships sink very rarely; you will be glad to know that only 18 cruises sank after the giant Titanic that sank in 1912.

Modern cruises are made with advanced aerodynamics and hydrodynamic mechanisms, and use stabilizers so cruises don’t sink even in high storms. 

Being a cruise lover, I have intense knowledge about why cruises sink and the names of cruises that have sunk till now. So let’s discuss everything about cruise sinking in this guide. 

When was the last time a cruise ship sank?

how often cruise sinks

You live in an evolutionary decade where engineers build rock-solid cruises with high-level skills and techniques. 

But still, most of the readers are curious to know when was the last time the cruise sank.

The last ship that sank in 2012 was Costa Concordia, an Italian ship that struck a reef off the coast of Giglio Island. 

Due to the massive hit, the mid side instantly got gash and started losing stability. 

According to the Live Science report, The Costa Concordia took 20 minutes to start sinking and took three hours to complete the turn down on the side. 

In 2015 a small river cruise in Dongfang Zhi Xing was hit by a tornado and sank. Unfortunately, 442 people died in that incident.

But you don’t need to worry because modern cruises have stabilizers that balance their body and keep them stable on the seas even in storms. 

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How Many Cruise Ships Have Sunk Till Now?

How Many Cruise Ships Have Sunk Till Now

You will wonder to know that only 18 cruises sunk in the last 100 years. Most of the cruise sunk while towed or struck with a reef. 

Approximately 3000+ people died in the last 18 cruise incidents, and more than half of that was rescued by nearby boats and skippers. 

After the RMS Titanic, the Costa Concordia cruise incident was distressing news that put the cruises in heart-wrenching sorrow and fear. 

But luckily, with modern cruises, you don’t need to worry at all. They detect the rocks underwater miles away and change the routes. Also, the giant cruise line hires Skilled maritime captains that know how to control the cruise. 

If you’re a cruise lover like me and want to know more about cruises that sank, check the table below. 

Cruise NameReason To SinkDestinationNumber Of Deaths
RMS Titanic 1912Collision with icebergNorth Atlantic Ocean1496
RMS Empress of Ireland 1914Sunk after being struck on its starboard side by the former icebreakerSt Lawrence River1000+
HMHS Britannic 1916struck a mine Greek island of Kea30
Principessa Mafalda 1927the propeller shaft fractured and damaged the hull.coast of Brazil314
MS Georges Philippar Caught fire from a luxury cabinthe Gulf of Aden54
SS Andrea Doria 1956after colliding with the StockholmNantucket, Massachusetts51
MTS Oceanos 1991by the bowSouth Africa0
MS Estonia 1994Bow doors locks failed in stormisland Utö852
MS Sea Diamond 2007Ran aground and sankisland of Santorini2
Costa Concordia 2012struck with reefGiglio Island32

1- Titanic 


Everyone knows the story of Titanic, a giant cruise having over 2200 people. This cruise ship sank after colliding with an iceberg.

Even though the Titanic is considered to be the most robust ocean liner of the time, unfortunately, a massive iceberg was a ring bell of loss. 

The incident was a huge maritime disaster and spread in the media like wildfire in a dry forest. Later on, a famous “Titanic” movie was also released in 1997 that sheds light on the complete story of the Titanic cruise. 

The Titanic had very few lifeboats, that’s why it was possible to save the life of people, and that’s why 1500 people died in the incident. 

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2- RMS Empress of Ireland 1914

RMS Empress of Ireland 1914

Another famous ocean liner Empress of Ireland, sank in 1914. This cruise is carrying around 1500+ passengers. 

This ocean liner was en route from Quebec City to Liverpool, England. The cruise collides with the Norwegian coal ship SS Storstad during the voyage. The collision was so massive and created a large hole at the side, so the cruise flooded quickly. 

Over 1000 people died in this cruise incident, the second deadliest disaster in wartime history. This time foggy weather was an excuse for this incident.

3- HMHS Britannic

The HMHS Britannic was considered a sister ship of RMS Titanic, and it was sunk in November 1912 during World War 1. 

This was a luscious ocean liner, but it served as a hospital ship during the world war. During the journey, this cruise struck a mine laid by a German submarine near the Island of Kea in Greece.

Luckily this ocean liner had a lot of lifeboats that saved the lives of 1035 people, and only 30 people lost their lives. 


4- Principessa Mafalda

The Principessa Mafalda was a famous Italian cruise; 1252 passengers boarded this ship.  

On 25 October 1927, the SS Principessa Mafalda ocean liner departed from Genoa, Italy, and the destination was South America. But when it reached the coast of Brazil, a fracture occurred in the propeller shaft, causing damage to the hull. After this incident, the ship lost the stable and started sinking. 

The ocean liner took around 4 hours and twenty minutes to sink properly, and around 314 people died. 

 After this massive maritime disaster, it put the question on Navigazione Generale Italiana (NVI).

5- Georges Philippar

The Georges Philippar was a French ocean liner off for its Maiden voyage with 518 passengers.

During its voyage in 1032, a sudden fire exploded in the ship, and it lost its stability and sank. During the incident, 54 people lost their lives.

Later, the inquiry commission blamed the electric plant of Georges Philippe for being troublesome from the start, which caused an electrical fault and thus caught fire.

6- SS Andrea Doria

 SS Andrea Doria

SS Andrea Doria was a transatlantic ocean liner that was launched for operational use in 1953. Unfortunately, this ship collided with another ship due to the foggy weather. 

By luck, the ocean liner didn’t sink immediately; it took around 11 hours to sink after being hit. During this time, the crew called for help and saved 1660 passengers; only 15 people died in this disaster. 

7- MS Estonia

One of the deadliest Maritime incidents happened with Ms. Estonia on 28 September 1994. Estonia was off for Stockholm from Estonia while crossing the Baltic Sea with 803 passengers—and 186 crew members.  

According to the reports, she was sunk due to seawater flooding onto the car deck. The fault in the ship’s bow visor was the reason for this incident.

Unluckily, she starts flooding and listing too quickly, making it difficult to launch the lifeboats. Unusually, the ship took around 30 minutes to sink; the incident took the life of 853 people, including crew members. 

8- Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia

After the Titanic, the most famous cruise that sank was Costa Concordia. The incident that happened with this cruise was similar to Titanic. She was sunk after colliding with a reef on January 13, 2012. 

This ocean liner was off to Savona from Italy; during the last voyage, she hit a giant reef near the island of Giglio, and 32 people were killed in it. But thanks to the professional cruise staff, they saved many precious lives. 

After the incident, the investigation team found that It was the captain’s fault. Later on, the captain of Costa Concordia was convicted of 16 years in prison.

9- Dongfang Zhi Xing 

The Dongfang Zhi Xing was the first Asian river cruise sunk due to a fierce thunderstorm. The incident happened on June 1, 2015, and later, on June 13, 442 deaths were confirmed. 

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Due to the mighty thunderstorm, it was impossible to rescue people, but still, 12 were rescued from the ship. Most of the people on board were in their 60s and 70s. 

How many cruise ships sink a year

The ratio of the cruise sinks in a year is negligible. In the last 100 years, 18 cruises sank (excluding small river cruises). So you can take the idea that probably sinking cruises are very limited. 

If 18 cruises sank in the last 100 years, the cruise sank rate is 1 in 5.5 years, and the yearly rate is only 0.18%.

Especially in the current era, the cruise is made very robust, and engineers have worked on the stability of cruises for months and years. Moreover, modern cruises are equipped with enough lifeboats for harsh circumstances.

You will be glad to know that most of the cruise lines also stay connected with rescue services with helicopters and boats to save lives. 

Can a cruise ship sink in a storm?

Can a cruise ship sink in a storm

Sea storms are the deadliest natural disaster, especially sea storms. 

Most modern cruise lines have advanced navigational and weather devices to predict storms. That’s why captains can take necessary precautions to avoid harsh circumstances. 

But what happens if a cruise accidentally hits the storm? Massive thunderstorms are like the closing chapter of the book of Life. 

The situation became even worse when the cruise lost navigation. And if the cruise hits the center or core of the prom, then its likelihood of survival becomes zero. 

Here I’m talking about superstorms, which are the deadliest. But minor storms can’t even affect the cruise stability. 

If you’re planning to cruise on the Atlantic Ocean, avoiding Hurricane seasons is recommended. The season starts on 1 June and lasts till the end of November. During the Hurricane seasons, the power storms and hurricanes can impact your cruising experience.

Similarly, rain storms are also dangerous for cruises. During mighty rain storms, the sea level fluctuates, and cruises start pitching and rolling. 

Reasons Why A Cruise Ship Sunk?

There is not a single reason why cruise ships sink. You have read the few reasons in the above table.

But before knowing the reasons, you should know that cruises rarely sink. If you compare the cruise sunk rate with the past 100 years, only one cruise sank in 5.5 years. 

When we delve into the historical records, the collision is the most common cause for the cruise to sink. 

Secondly, the storms, foggy conditions, and rain storms are underlying factors due to which cruises sink. 

Especially during stormy weather, the waves force the cruises to lean at dangerous angles. And if the ship hits the center of the storm, it can make the situation even worse. 

Most cruises in the past sank due to the deadliest storms and thunders. 

Also, the foggy weather makes the vision unclear, making it difficult for the captain to operate a cruise. In this situation, a cruise can collide with a reef or any other ship that can endanger her. 

There are a plethora of other reasons why cruises can sink. These include; human error, navigation errors, fire, flooding, lack of maintenance, etc. 

Which Is The Safest Cruise Line To Travel?

Cruises become very captivating and entertaining, so the demand is also increasing day by day. Seeing the cursing enthusiasm, many faint cruise lines are no entrant in the market. 

Therefore, before booking a cruise voyage, you should research because every cruise line has different safety policies. Few cruise Lines also offer life insurance and other safety procedures. 

Royal Caribbean Is The Most Safe?

royal caribbean

Among all the Cruise lines, the Royal Caribbean is at the top of the list. This cruise line has stringent safety protocols and compliance with international regulations. 

The modern Royal Caribbean Cruise has 18 lifeboats, each carrying 370 people and 6660 people. They have well trained and professional crew to handle bad situations.

And the good news is none of the Royal Caribbean cruises have ever sunk because they build rock-solid cruises. 

Also, Royal Caribbean offers a travel protection program that covers risks and financial losses. 

The Allure of the Seas, Harmony Of the Seas, and Icon of the Seas are the most famous in the Royal Caribbean cruise line. 

Disney Cruise Line 

Disney Cruise Line 

Every individual knows about Disney cruises. They are family-friendly and best for kids. Being a family cruise, the Disney cruise line focuses intensely on safety protocols. 

Secondly, the Disney Cruise line has a highly professional and trained crew to handle emergencies. Usually, Disney cruises have 20 lifeboats, and each can carry 150 passengers.

Disney also offers vacation protection that covers all travel insurance benefits, injuries, and financial loss during emergencies and other incidents. 

Before departing, the Disney staff gives brief instructions on how to handle emergencies. Due to these strict security guidelines, Disney cures are considered safe for families. 

Other Safe Cruises  

Besides the Royal Caribbean and Disney cruises line, the Carnival, Celebrity, and Norwegian cruise lines are also considered the safest. 

Before picking any cruise line, first go through their safety guidelines and regulations, so you can make a better decision. 

Can a cruise ship tip over?

Modern cruises have tall buildings that can easily tip over in storms. But in reality, it won’t happen. 

Cruises remain stable and upright even when rogue waves hit them because of the proper weight distribution and stabilizer. 

Modern cruises have gyroscopic stabilizers that keep the cruise upright and can withstand rogue waves up to 50 feet in height. 

The lower area and the hull of cruise ships are made of heavy material, mostly steel, whereas the upper section is usually lightweight. This technique lowers the ship’s center of gravity and provides high stability to avoid tip over. 

Has a Carnival cruise ship ever sunk?

The Carnival Cruise line contains mighty cruises, and most have transatlantic cruises. Since the inception, only Carnival Cruise has ever sunk, the Costa Concordia. 

In the above article, I have mentioned how Costa Concordia was sunk in 2012. There were around 3200 passengers on board this ship, and only 32 lost their life. 

The professional and well-trained crew staff immediately rescued the people and saved the lives of 3160+ people. 

There were no faults in the engine of this ocean liner, but unfortunately, it stuck with the reef due to foggy weather. 

Final Words 

Most cruisers always search, “How often do cruise ships sink?” It’s better to know some history of a cruise before a voyage. But you don’t need to be fearful at all.

Such incidents are rare, especially in this decade’s cruises use advance technologies to improve safety measures. 

If you want to be safer, you should go for Royal Caribbean or Disney Cruise lines, as they have stringent safety protocols and offer life insurance. 

But you shouldn’t be afraid of cruising; it’s a fun activity to enjoy summer vacations and spend quality time with family.

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