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Tipped ship gets its sea legs

THE Crown Princess was cleared to sail last weekend after it listed July 18 near Port Canaveral, Fla., and injured 240 people.

Luis Diaz, a Coast Guard spokesman in Miami, said the Coast Guard and investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board did not find any “mechanical or electronic issues” aboard the cruise ship after the accident. The ship resumed sailing July 22.

In a statement last week, Alan Buckelew, president of Princess Cruises, attributed the mishap to human error, but he declined to provide details.

The NTSB hasn’t determined a cause and expects its investigation to take a year or more, said spokesman Keith Holloway. The board was reviewing the ship’s voyage data recorder, which monitors mechanical functions, he said.

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It’s difficult to determine how many listing incidents may have occurred on cruise ships in the past because companies are not required to report them. Noting that all ships list to some degree, Diaz said cruise lines might tell the Coast Guard about an incident “if they feel it’s significant enough.”

In May 2001, more than 70 people were injured when Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sky listed off Alaska because of an autopilot malfunction, according to news reports. (An NCL spokeswoman last week declined to comment on these reports.)

In July 2005, a Carnival ship listed in the Caribbean because of a computer malfunction, causing minor injuries, the company said.

In February, another Princess ship, the Grand Princess, tipped off Galveston, Texas, while turning around, injuring several people, said spokeswoman Julie Benson; human error was blamed. She said a search of the line’s records over five years failed to find any other cases of injuries caused by listing.

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-- Jane Engle

Soak like

the Romans

FOR the first time in more than 25 years, you’ll soon be able to soak in mineral waters in Bath, England, which were tapped by royalty and the ancient Romans.

The centerpiece of Thermae Bath Spa, expected to open Aug. 7 after years of construction delays and missed deadlines, is a Modernist glass-and-stone building with a rooftop pool.

Facilities include treatment rooms, steam rooms, a whirlpool, a solarium and a restaurant.

After centuries of use, the original Bath spas were closed in 1978 after a teenager died of meningitis thought to have been carried by the water. New wells have since been dug, and water purity is monitored, the spa’s operator says.

The spa will be open daily except Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day; hours vary. Admission to the New Royal Bath facility will be about $35 for two hours, $53 for four hours and $83 for the day. At the smaller Cross Bath, the price will be $22 for 1 1/2 hours. For information, visit www.thermaebathspa.com. To reserve treatments, call 011-44-1225-331-234.

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-- Jane Engle

Helens open to hikers

MT. St. Helens reopened to climbers July 21 for the first time since the mountain began erupting in 2004.

Since then, the volcano has settled into a pattern of extruding lava with a low gas content, said Tom Pierson of the U.S. Geological Survey. Officials say there’s not enough gas to make climbing dangerous. The crater remains off-limits.

Permits, which cost $22 each, are required to hike above tree line. The Forest Service will issue up to 100 permits a day. For reservations: www.mshinstitute.org.

From the Associated Press


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