The 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Lion was departing an anchorage in the Las Perlas Islands, about 70 nautical miles from Panama City, when it struck the rock, which was uncharted, Lindblad spokesperson Patty Disken-Cahill tells USA TODAY.
None of the 55 passengers and 35 crew on board the vessel was injured, Disken-Cahill says.
The National Geographic Sea Lion sustained damage to its hull and one propeller during the incident, but after clearance from the U.S. Coast Guard, returned to Panama City on its own power, arriving today at 5 a.m.
The accident occurred on the third day of an eight-day voyage transiting the Panama Canal and exploring the islands of Panama and Costa Rica.
Disken-Cahill says passengers on the vessel were given the option of continuing their journey to Costa Rica by air and land, or returning home. All but 16 of the passengers decided to continue their journey and flew this morning to San Jose, Costa Rica, she says.
Passengers who chose to return home will be given a full refund, including airfare. Those who will complete their journey by air and land will receive a $2,500 refund.
Disken-Cahill says the National Geographic Sea Lion will enter a dry dock at Panama City on Wednesday to undergo repairs. The next departure of the vessel, scheduled to begin March 9, has been canceled. The ship will return to service March 16.
The incident occurred at roughly the same time that another small passenger ship, Hurtigruten’s Kong Harald, was damaged after hitting a submerged rock along the coast of Norway. Passengers on the Kong Harald were taken off the ship, and Hurtigruten has canceled the vessel’s itinerary through March 12 so it can undergo repairs.
Courtesy of www.usatoday.com