Guests on board the Carlton Queen in the Red Sea had a lucky escape when their vessel capsized at the end of April, as reported by Scuba Diver at the time.
However, conflicting stories are now circulating about the state of the vessel, the actual incident, what happened in the immediate aftermath, and then back on land once everyone was returned to shore, with first-hand accounts from guests at odds with statements from the owners of the vessel.
Our sister site Divernet has a lengthy account from UK diver Christian Hanson, a PADI IDC Staff Instructor at Academy Divers in West Yorkshire. He delivers a compelling and detailed story, explaining how the boat was listing from the moment they boarded it in the marina, how this got progressively worse until the boat capsized, and how the guests struggled to make their escape from the stricken vessel, with little to no help from most of the crew. He goes on to explain how once they were safely back on dry land, their ordeal continued as the liveaboard company delivered them to a cheap hotel before being forced to move them to better accommodation, and was generally less than helpful – in his words, ‘they wanted to get rid of us as fast as humanly possible'.
Meanwhile, Divernet approached Carlton Queen Red Sea for their take on the incident, and while they avoided any potential cause of the incident – ‘we will abstain from making statements regarding the cause of the accident until the conclusion of the investigation' – they did respond to what they described as ‘the ill-founded reports made with respect to the crew-members' handling of the guests, both at the time of the accident and until their return to their home countries'.
In a statement, the Carlton Queen representative said: “The safe return of all those on board bears testament to the crew members' effective management of the situation, which spared the lives of all passengers.”
The statement went on to explain how they communicated with the various consuls to assist guests, how they had covered all medical, accommodation and other expenses, and how they offered to pay additional amounts for inconvenience.
“Unfortunately, the company's offer fell on deaf ears, and certain guests engaged in negotiation tactics and resorted to threats to strong-arm the Carlton Fleet into paying them larger amounts, notwithstanding their signature of releases and liability waivers, and the charterer's clear instructions that they procure insurance for loss or damage to equipment and belongings prior to boarding the boat,” the statement read.
It concluded: “We are co-operating with the Egyptian authorities to determine the cause of the accident and urge all those concerned to wait for the result of the investigation so that we may determine the next steps.”