What was supposed to be a warm up to Soca On De Hill turned into pandemonium after 352 party goers were stranded at sea during the wee hours Saturday morning.
For more than five hours, patrons of the Soca On Seas cruise hosted by 4D Entertainment were left in a state of panic after the island’s largest party boat, the MV Dream Chaser had a mechanical failure.
Public Relations Office for the Royal Barbados Police Force, Acting Inspector Rodney Inniss, told Barbados TODAY that the rudder on the boat was damaged, disabling the steering of the boat.
The good vibes suddenly turned sour for the party goers who had expected returning to the Dry dock at 2 a.m. after a night of partying with deejays Fullklip, Psalms, Level Vibes and Surfrat. It was around that time that everything went downhill.
One patron who was on board described the experience as traumatic. The party goer who requested anonymity told Barbados TODAY after today’s ordeal, Soca On Seas would be her last cruise.
“I ain’t going on Dream Chaser, Jolly or Buccaneer because none of them don’t have any emergency extractions,” she said adding “anything could happen out on that water. Today was a clear wake up call, these people need to get their act together.”
The party goer was angered by the lack of emergency protocol. She revealed that just after 1 a.m. when things started to go amiss, the Coast Guard was deployed, however, this did not remove the uncertainty among the patrons. She described how people were vomiting due to the rough swells as the boat shifted further into the Caribbean Sea and others suffered from asthma and panic attacks.
“We thought that when the Coast Guard come now they would at least bring some water for people or bring paramedics for people to get check. People could have gotten asthma attacks and died. They come with their empty hands, walking around and then all we realise is that the boat was going around in a circle . . . and we were just there for hours,” the patron angrily recalled.
“After waiting a long while people were vomiting, they run out of water, people were getting asthma attacks, people passed out and these people saying nothing. I believe you should have some kind of emergency extraction, suppose that boat caught fire what the hell would we have done, jump off?”
A male patron revealed the it was an experience that he will never forget.
“The boat didn’t leave on time, it left dockside between 10:30 to 11:00, we were all having a good time up till about 2 a.m. when one the announcers said that the party has to stop because the boat needs to be towed back into the dock.
You know how Bajans does normally get on, everyone was freaking out, when Surfrat was trying to get people to calm down and explain what was going on tensions ran high,” he explained.
Concerns were also raised about the limited number of life jackets that were on board for patrons and no one with emergency response training available to help those who were throwing up.
“All the life jackets were taken out as a precaution, so they gave us the life jackets but I didn’t get any life jacket because by the time I got there to get one all was gone,” he recalled.
The patrons revealed that there was visible frustration and anger.
The boat was rescued just after 5 a.m. when the Coast Guard returned with the bigger vessel to tow the MV Dream Chaser to shore.
But mayhem ensued upon reaching the Flour Mill dock when desperate patrons dangerously leaped and climbed over the boat, eager to be on land again.
“They started to literally climb off the left side of the boat . . . they put themselves in danger from dropping in between the boat and the wall, the majority of them was doing that and the police and security was trying to tell them not to do that because there was a serious risk of injuring themselves,” the patron revealed.
Director of 4D Entertainment Rudy Maloney expressed his sincerest apologises for the ordeal.
“It is an unfortunate event what happened,” he told Barbados TODAY adding “it was not a good experience for the patrons and it is something that you would not like to see happen again.”
No injuries have been recorded, however, efforts to reach the management of the MV Dream Chaser have so far been unsuccessful. (KB/KK)