Monday, January 16, 2012

Titanic II

Every now and then, I consider taking my family on a cruise. Then, something like this comes along.

Oh sure, I know. The actual % of cruise ships worldwide that leave port and return safely, is damn close to 100%. I know that.

But to think THIS can actually still happen, is pretty flabbergasting.

Apparently, it was the captain, cruising close to shore just to honk his horn at a friend who lived on the nearby island.

Sooooo, so, Italian of him.

Well, here's more from a listener who knows things about cruise ships...

Hey Czabe,

I used to work for the leading developer of the automatic navigation systems for cruise ships, so I keep in touch with the industry. As long as the captain uses the automated system, he doesn't run aground. Even when he manually steers, there are so many audible and visible alarms telling him the seaway is too shallow...I have no idea how he didn't know he was in trouble. Granted, cruise ships aren't Honda Civics and take a *long* time to change direction, but still. They set the alarms up to look ahead 5+ minutes to predict problems with enough time to turn.

The problems with cruises have been in all the papers. The most unsafe aspects are these.

The crews are *very* poorly trained and paid. Other than the top officers, most of them have no clue what to do in an emergency. And most don't speak English. I had heard that the Caribbean cruise lines hired natives from South American villages, gave them a couple of weeks training, and turned them loose. Just what you want: "no habla" when the lights are out and the ship is listing and you smell smoke.

The worst part is this. These ships are flagged in foreign countries, like Panama and Liberia, for insurance and business purposes. That means they are foreign countries in effect. If something happens to you on board, like you get assaulted or robbed, don't bother calling the police in the US or the FBI: they have no jurisdiction. Instead, contact Liberia; yeah, right. Some years ago, a girl from Richmond, VA was cruising with her family and *disappeared* at sea. FBI could do nothing.

If you really want a safe cruise, go on a day cruise on a U.S. Navy ship. Those kids know their business, from the lowest paint-scraper to the captain. I had the honor of riding cruisers and carriers for my job. They ran periodic emergency drills, and you, as a civilian, had better muster to where you were told in an efficient military manner during the drill. Those guys are *THE BEST IN THE WORLD*.

-john reilly
Staunton, VA


  1. F. going on my first cruise this weekend.

  2. I made it back. But with a case of pneumonia. Those things are germ infested. Better stick with disney