MIAMI -- Three giant tugs failed to dislodge the cruise ship Rhapsody today from flat rocks off Grand Cayman Island, where it ran aground Wednesday while carrying 800 vacation revelers.
'It's going to take some other device to pull it out of there,' said Jean Claude Potier of Paquet French Cruises, owner of the 24,000-ton luxury vessel, entrenched on sand-covered rock about 800 feet from shore at Seven Mile Beach. The island is 200 miles south of Cuba.
The Bahamian-registered vessel was due to return to its home port of Miami Sunday. The last of nearly 800 passengers arrived in Miami early Sunday after being evacuated and put on chartered flights.
Three giant tugboats with a combined horsepower of 50,000 began working at 8 p.m. EST Sunday -- when the tide was high again -- to free the Rhapsody using thick cables. Potier said efforts were called off early today.
Potier said it was not immediately known what new attempts would be made, saying, 'We're going to listen to what the experts have to say,' he said.
The accident has cost the company 'tens of thousands of dollars,' he said.
'It's a terrible thing. We are in the business of selling vacations, not interrupting them,' Potier said.
Passengers, most in high spirits, were flown from Grand Cayman on specially chartered Cayman Airways and Air Florida flights to Miami.
'We saved a lot of money,' said Jim Nicholas of Miami, noting a casino aboard the ship had to be closed. Officials in Grand Cayman, where gambling is outlawed, said the Rhapsody was in the islands' jurisdictional waters.
'Even the slot machines didn't work the last three days,' he said.
'It wasn't bad at all,' said Amy Snetiker. 'The waves were very rough, the captain said he would try to get close (to the island), that's when we ran aground.'
The Bahamian-registered vessel got stuck Wednesday during heavy rain and rough seas. Its owners said no one was injured and they believed the ship was not structurally damaged.
Black-suited divers dotted turquoise water Sunday where two tugs from New Orleans and Curacao were poised next to the ship, whose 471 crew members remained aboard.
Passengers were treated to free drinks and shows until Saturday, when officials determined that removing them and their luggage would lighten the load.
The 27-year-old Rhapsody had been due to return to Miami Sunday after a week-long cruise with stops in Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico. Potier said passengers would either get partial refunds or offers for another cruise.