Really, loose lips did THIS?

15 Jan

This is what we call a "Career Ending Move" by the captain.

I’ve never taken a cruise. Not a day cruise of the Bahamas or a week cruise of Alaska. Until this weekend, my reasons for avoiding this type of travel were:

  1. The Environment – do you know how much fuel it takes to power a cruise ship and how much pollution it creates? Tons.
  2. The People – I hate touristy vacations, so the idea of being holed up on a boat with tourists = anti-vacation.
  3. The Idea – my kind of vacation is going somewhere and exploring and immersing myself in the local culture; a cruise seems to allow only a superficial exposure to the port cities where you stop, with a larger emphasis on the on-ship experience – buffets, entertainment, etc.
Tourist Vessel off the coast of Antarctica - 2007

Tourist Vessel off the coast of Antarctica - 2007

Don’t get me wrong – I understand that loads of people love cruises and I’m not putting them down (although I do think you should realize how bad they are for the environment before you book a ticket so that if you decide to do it anyway, you can at least make sure your enjoyment is worth the extermination of a few species). I’m just saying: not my thing.

Anyway. After this weekend, a whole new reason tops this list: SINKING SHIPS.

Fascinated by the vessel that ran ashore off the coast of Italy, I started googling “sinking ship” to see if I could find videos of it. Know what I found? Videos of many, many passenger ships that have sunk. WTF? Call me naïve, but I was thinking that ship builders got their shit together after the Titanic and built these things so they were unsinkable. Apparently NOT. Here’s a rundown if you’d like to fact-check my claim:

Copyright: Michael Hipler

2007 - off the coast of Greece

Granted, most people generally survive. But still? Any cruise that a) Sends deck furniture into the ocean, or b) Tilts my porthole so I am looking directly into the water = unacceptable. Because either situation would prompt me to crap my pants, and – I don’t know about you, but – any vacation in which I have to deal with my own excrement isn’t actually a vacation. (High standards, I guess.)

From the limited research I did (two minutes on Google) it looks like the most common cause is pilot error. Um. Just looking at the photos from the current wreck and the one off the coast of Greece in 2007, I’m pretty sure anyone who wasn’t drunk or half-asleep could’ve guessed that those boats were too close to shore.

Another thing that’s messed up about cruise ships? PIRATES. Every time a pirate attack makes the news, I’m left scratching my head, puzzled that such an occupation still exists. What next? Stagecoach robberies? Sorry, does not compute. Pirates belong in the same category as gladiators: dwelling only in the past or the movies. (And yes, I realize I’ve mixed comparisons – I know that a gladiator isn’t someone who holds up a stagecoach.)

Anyway, I’ll close with one final tip. Look at these photos. Notice anything? Correct: If you insist on taking a cruise, book your room on the LEFT side of the ship. And – just to annoy your travel agent – refer to it as the “above-water” side.

Bon voyage.

10 Responses to “Really, loose lips did THIS?”

  1. thesinglecell January 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    Having been on two cruises during which I saw a bunch of other cruise ships cruising on by, I think the whole shipwreck thing really is the exception to the general rule. (And while I was on my first cruise, I went snorkeling OVER a shipwreck off the coast of Grand Cayman. Greetings, irony. But it was a reeeeally old ship that was loaded with rice, so, duh, when it takes on water, there’s going to be what you call a growing problem. Obvi.) Anyway, they’re like plane crashes. The ratio of wrecks to successful trips is crazy small. So we still get on planes. Car crashes? Tons. All the time. Oh, wait, do you have a car in DC? Hmm. Anyway, cruise ships don’t sink much. Is my point.

    However, on both my terrible-for-the-environment cruises, the “how to save your ass if this thing goes down” meeting was held mere hours after embarkation. Not days, like on this one. It hadn’t happened yet on this one and some people had been aboard since Jan. 8. Not that it matters. Last summer I was pretty sure the only dude who’d survive was the douche Disney Cruise Line crew member wearing all the sample life gear at the meeting. (He later played Hades from “Hercules” in the villains stage show.)

    • pithypants January 15, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

      A ship filled with rice? No need to say anything else. That’s a great visual.
      Also? I had no idea they even *did* safety talks on cruise ships. And I like that Hades performed your safety orientation. Nice touch.

  2. dribblingpensioner January 15, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    I would never think of a cruise, i love to walk around and see the local area where i am, of the tourist beat.Two days on a boat and then i would be bored stiff.

  3. Tin Roof Press January 16, 2012 at 4:44 am #

    As per points 1, 2 & 3 – I couldn’t agree more. I can’t understand how people like it. Also its not even sailing. Its just a floating building block. I can’t think of anything more unromantic.

    Some woman on BBC news said it was just like being on the Titanic.

    • pithypants January 16, 2012 at 9:02 am #

      Except she wasn’t haunted by the Celine Dion song, I assume.

  4. Kimberly Pugliano January 16, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    “What next? Stagecoach robberies?”

    HAHAHAHAHA!!! I totally agree!!! WTF?

  5. Lorna's Voice January 16, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    I’ve taken enough cruises to know that I don’t want to take any more. This last disaster just solidifies my decision. Most people on the ship were probably too full, drunk, or sleep-deprived to notice anything amiss. They just figured this was a free excursion and panicked about what outfit to wear…

    As I recall, on every excursion, a few people went missing and were never found. I hope all the people who are missing are found unharmed…

    Your points are valid. Stay away from cruises. There are other ways to burn through fuel and money…

    • pithypants January 16, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

      Good point. This was one of the “adventure” options they thought they selected… zip-line, waterfall hike, tilting ship…

  6. The Byronic Man January 16, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Years ago, I casually mentioned to my wife that when ferries sink – which is extremely rare – they go down very fast. To this day, if we have to ride a ferry somewhere, she finds the life preservers as soon as we’re on board. Mea culpa.

    • pithypants January 16, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

      See? I knew I wasn’t being paranoid when I sat near the exit and had one hand on a life vest during the ferry ride from Sydney to Manly:

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