SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- After colliding with the dock and sitting at Pier 27 in San Francisco since Thursday, the Ruby Princess cruise ship finally embarked on its journey to Alaska.
The U.S. Coast Guard announced Sunday morning repairs to the Ruby Princess have been completed and the cruise ship is "free to depart" for Alaska.
The coast guard said it lifted the Captain of the Port order at 1 a.m. Sunday.
Now, the cruise line said it was expected to depart the Bay Area at 2:30 p.m. Our ABC7 cameras saw the Princess ship move around 3:40 p.m.
Passengers had until 11 a.m. to decide whether they will stay on the ship to to continue the trip or leave.
Cruise passenger Anita Lawhon from Reno captured the moment the Ruby Princess finally set sail from San Francisco Sunday afternoon, she thought her "bon voyage" would never happen.
"Who would've thought we'd be sitting here in San Francisco for four days? I'm so excited go out toward the Golden Gate for the first time in my life, exciting," said Lawhon.
The ship's captain told passengers the green light was given overnight to sail.
"Actually, I just walked down because I wanted to see the state of repairs and was pleasantly surprised it looks great to me," said passenger Alexandra Shannon.
In a statement, the cruise line said, "Princess Cruises can confirm that repairs on Ruby Princess have been completed, and following inspection and certification by the United States Coast Guard the ship is safe and fit to sail."
"I got off the ship I decided to take the deal they offered," said Simon from Rio Vista, who declined to give his last name.
Ruby Princess had 3,256 guests and 1,161 crew onboard. Now, they are departing with 2,677 guests and 1,161 crew onboard. A difference of 579 passengers.
The ship has been sitting at Pier 27 in San Francisco since colliding with the dock Thursday morning.
The delayed 10-day sailing will now be a 7-day cruise returning to San Francisco on Sunday, July 16.
"The Ruby Princess is about 950 feet long and about 115,000-tons," Captain Allan Post with the Texas A&M Maritime Academy pointed out. "With that much weight and that much sail area, the vessel is affected by wind, by current, and by the technical abilities of its design," he said on Friday as repairs were being made.
On Friday, ABC7 saw crews from the Port of San Francisco and Coast Guard inspecting the hole in the vessel and repairs which have been done so far.
"Our main concern is the vessel able to transport passengers and operate safety," said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Levi Read on Friday.
Passengers who boarded the ship Thursday have been asked to stay on board and not come ashore. Originally, there were 3,256 guests and 1,161 crew onboard as the ship remains docked at Pier 27.
Princess Cruises says guests who elect to cancel their cruise will receive a 100% refund of their cruise fare, post-cruise hotel packages and transfers booked through Princess, prepaid shore excursions and other prepaid items and taxes, fees and port expenses. Each guest will also receive a 50% Future Cruise Credit of the cruise fare paid on this voyage, which may be applied to any future Princess cruise that is booked by February 1, 2024 and sails by February 1, 2025. They may remain onboard until 1100 local time on Sunday, July 9 to better assist with alternative plans they may be making.
Guests who continue with their Princess vacation will receive a 75% refund of the cruise fare paid as well as unused pre-paid shore excursions booked through Princess and the refundable portion of the taxes, fees and port expenses for the missed ports. Each guest will also receive a 75% Future Cruise Credit equal to the cruise fare paid on this voyage, which may be applied to any future Princess cruise that is booked by February 1, 2024 and sails by February 1, 2025.
Investigation into the bar pilot
We learned more about the Ruby Princess pilot. In some ways, this is an elite group. There aren't many bar pilots, 52 at the moment with four trainees in the pipeline according to the Board of Pilot Commissioners Executive Director.
The investigation into what went wrong with the Ruby Princess during docking at San Francisco's Pier 27 Thursday morning is in the early fact-finding phase.
"It appears the port quarter of the Ruby Princess made contact with Pier 27," said U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander William Williams.
The Coast Guard which is assisting in the investigation says the pilot is being drug and alcohol tested which is standard in a serious marine incident.
"The Coast Guard has sent two teams, an investigations team and an inspection port state control team to the vessel and will be conducting those inspections and investigations," said Williams.
The San Francisco Bar Pilots are responsible for safely navigating ships they board over the offshore sand bar to docks throughout the Bay Area.
A Spokesperson working with the San Francisco Bar Pilots told ABC7 News on Thursday, "We can confirm a pilot was involved in a hard landing at Pier 27 this morning. We are cooperating with all necessary agencies in looking into this matter and cannot comment further."
The Board of Pilot Commissioners tells ABC7 News the pilot is on the Pilot Evaluation Committee which is responsible for trainees and that anyone on that committee would have to be a pilot more than 10 years.
The investigation is now in the hands of the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies who were notified about the early morning incident.
ABC7 News reporters Tim Johns, Suzanne Phan, Melanie Woodrow, Amanda del Castillo and Cornell Barnard contributed to this report.
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