The Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster might well go down in history as one of the most senseless, preventable wrecks ever. While Captain Schettino is telling anyone who will listen how he “fell” into a lifeboat before all his passengers were evacuated and how he “was ordered” to sail close to that island, I’ve been ruminating on the cruise we took in July 2011.
Re-reading my blogs from our Mediterranean cruise, certain memories now make me shudder. Our ship, Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas was smaller than the Costa Concordia. Still, I remember my first sight of it and thinking it truly was a floating highrise hotel, an unwieldy behemoth. A Ferrari (or any sports car) it was not.
Our ship was so big and yet, when the seas were rough, it got bounced around a fair amount. I remember lying in bed the first night and feeling as though I was going down a toboggan hill head first every time the ship rolled. I remember looking up at the life boats strung above the decks and and being comforted by their size and sturdiness. It never occurred to me that they couldn’t be deployed if the ship were listing badly. Thinking back to the courteous and helpful crew on board, it never occurred to me that they might not be there for us in an emergency.
In retrospect, we were quite careless on board. We let the kids run free all over the ship. They ran from our cabin to the pool, to the arcade, and the various restaurants. I confess we didn’t always know exactly where they were; twice, we ate dinner at separate times in separate places. Had we hit a rock at the dinner hour, how could we have ever reached our children?
Because the cruise ship was massive – with multiple storeys, elevators, and other amenities – we forgot that we were far from land (thank you, Captain) in a sizeable body of deep, often rough, probably cold water. Sure there was one lifeboat drill, after which waiters came around and offered everyone free rum punch. The tedium of the drill was soon a distant memory.
Our captain seemed to be the antithesis to Captain Schettino – cautious, prudent, and very communicative with his passengers. We were given detailed weather and wave reports every day, twice a day. We didn’t go to Nice, France because the water was too rough to anchor. Still, if the boat were sinking, I cannot imagine what a difficult task it would be to account for and safely evacuate every passenger. At least on an airplane, the flight attendants can look down the aisles and see everyone they’re responsible for. Almost every day I got lost trying to find my cabin – how could anyone find me?
I cannot even imagine the anguish, the terror, and the confusion the Costa Concordia passengers felt two weeks ago. It’s an accident that never should have happened. Will it spell choppy waters for the cruise industry? One would hope not – this appears to be the reckless actions of one egotistical, reckless captain. Still, I’m kind of glad our cruise is behind us and not in front of us.