Tag Archives: cruise ships

Keep it classy, Captain Schettino.

29 Jan

I’m still mildly obsessed with the cruise ship that sunk tipped over two weeks ago, for one reason: Captain Schettino.

The guy sounds like a real piece of work, doesn’t he? First, the accident was allegedly caused because he deviated from the course to provide a show for the people on land. Apparently no one taught him that pride cometh before a fall. Also? I now know where the term “show-boating” comes from.

Then, in response to having beached his vessel like an awkward whale, what does he do? Does he take charge and give his crew orders to organize passengers for evacuation? Does he begin a role call to assure all passengers are accounted for? No. If the rumor is to be believed, rather than do either of those useful things, he called down to the kitchen (galley?) to order dinner for himself and a woman he was entertaining.

Wow. I think we can agree on two things: #1: He demonstrated fantastically bad judgement; #2:  This guy takes “calm in a crisis” to a whole new level.

By the way, how mortified do you think his date was? We’ve all been out with that guy – the one who tries too hard to impress you, who ends up making an ass of himself with grandiose gestures that completely backfire. I’m thinking the conversation in the cockpit (or whatever you call it on ship – the bridge?) went something like this:

Captain: You really MUST see the port up-close. Let me zip in a bit for you.
Date: I’m good. We should probably just stick with the regular route. 
Captain: No! I insist! You must see this. 
Date: Um. What was that shudder? Why aren’t we moving?
Captain: Ah, that’s totally normal. Here, let me call down for a bottle of wine and some food.
Date: Actually, I just remembered – I left the iron on at home. Gotta roll! 

And then, when he does realize there may be grave consequences, rather than spring into action to save the lives of his passengers, he’s one of the first people off the boat. Granted, he claims he “tripped” and fell into a lifeboat, so we’re not supposed to fault him for that, but if you’ve read the Coast Guard transcripts, you know that he didn’t exactly mount a campaign to re-board the ship and take command of the situation.

Don’t get me wrong – self-preservation is a biologically driven urge, and it would take some serious over-coming to force yourself to stay on that ship. But when you’re the person who caused the situation, it’s kind of your responsibility to make sure you aren’t killing people.

I’m sure we’ll learn more in coming months when the lawsuits start to mount. Given his track record for chivalry, I’m waiting for him to throw his date under the bus and claim she was actually the one driving when the ship ran aground. And in keeping with his character, he’ll shrug and say, “What? Everyone knows women can’t drive.”

I actually was in the car with a client once when this exact move happened. I'd like to note: the driver was a man in that instance.

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: http://www.cruisejunkie.com/Sunk.html

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.