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There was drama on the high seas late last week when an inflatable life raft mysteriously expanded aboard Celebrity Solstice.

Royal Caribbean said in a statement to Cruise Passenger that the strap securing the raft has come undone, which caused it to deploy into the water. The line said it may have come undone due to weather.

The statement said: “The raft was not deployed by a guest onboard the ship. The raft in question is used for extra lifesaving capacity, and is not needed to evacuate the ship under normal circumstances. The safety of our guests and crew is Celebrity Cruises’ highest priority and at no time was passenger safety compromised. This is an extremely rare incident. Celebrity Cruises will inspect similar rafts currently on ships in the fleet and replace any straps that show signs of weathering.”

Cruise Passenger correspondent John Pond was onboard and sent us this dispatch:

Mid afternoon Friday 24 October, during our three day cruise to nowhere on the elegant Celebrity Solstice, we were witness to an unexpected drama. At approximately 5.30 p.m. on Friday 24 October we returned to our balcony cabin where my wife and I heard an unusual sound.

Soon after an announcement from the Bridge indicated that the ship would be turned around stopped and the high speed motor emergency boat would be launched to retrieve an inflatable life raft that had been launched from the ship. Just how it had been launched remained at that time, a mystery. Had it been thrown over or had there been a malfunction?

At about 6.20 p.m. the errant life raft had been secured to a crane line and was being pulled up, literally outside our balcony cabin. Many crew and officers on the deck below attempted to secure the life raft that had been placed atop one of the regular lifeboats. Several lines were secured to the life raft that was blowing around in the high winds.

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Officers and crew attempted to deflate the life raft, without a great deal of success. Finally, half deflated, it was secured in a manner, to one of the lifeboats and deck. At that stage a more pressing emergency came to hand – it was time for dinner and all the passengers looking over their balconies disappeared.

On returning to our cabin after dinner, the life raft had been winched out of sight to a more secure top deck location.

In my many cruises, this was my first “drama at sea”. Fortunately the rest of the cruise went smoothly.

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