Cruise ship freed from reef off Bermuda

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- A cruise ship carrying nearly 3,500 passengers and crew spent the early hours of Wednesday anchored off Bermuda after being grounded on a reef close to the British island.

Cruise ship freed after grounding on reef

Norwegian Cruise Line said a rising tide helped free the Norwegian Dawn and push it into deeper water late Tuesday after it was stuck for nearly 6-1/2 hours, but the company added that the ship dropped anchor and would wait for an inspection for any damage.

"All guests and crew are safe and there were absolutely no injuries," a company statement said.

The ship had just set off for Boston on Tuesday when it ran aground after a temporary malfunction in the steering system forced it slightly off course, the company said. The ship, with 2,443 passengers and 1,059 crew members aboard, would be inspected by a team of experts before resuming its voyage, the statement said.

Passenger Rachel Hansen, from Londonderry, New Hampshire, spoke to The Associated Press by phone and said the ship was about three miles from Bermuda when it ran aground.

"We definitely felt it," she said. "We were in the middle of eating dinner ... There was a shudder for maybe 30 seconds to a minute and then there was a sudden stop."

Hansen said she and her family gathered essential belongings and joined other people who went to the top of the ship to see what had happened.

Hansen told CBS Boston by phone that passengers seemed stressed out, but crew members did all they could to keep everyone calm. "The fourth deck and below were sealed with water-tight doors and the crew and the passengers are not allowed to go down there," Hansen told the station.

As the hours went by, she told the AP, passengers settled into their evening routine and the ship still held entertainment shows as planned.

The Norwegian Dawn was on a seven-day, round-trip cruise to Bermuda, where it spent three days in port.

The situation raised concern among those scheduled to travel from Boston to Bermuda aboard the Norwegian Dawn on Friday, including Nicole Boucher of Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

She said she had plans to travel with her mother and young daughter to celebrate their birthdays, but Norwegian Cruise officials told her they didn't know yet if the ship will be available.

"It was a girls' trip," she said. "My mom actually let me know through Facebook and said, 'Oh, this is our luck.'"