It’s hard to believe that Sunday marks the first anniversary of the tragic capsizing of Costa Concordia, an event in which 32 people died and scores were injured. In the ensuing year, we have learned the ship’s captain might face manslaughter charges and Costa Concordia, which still lies on its side and is part of a major float-out effort that will cost millions of dollars, might well not be righted – and towed away – for months more.
And despite some strides the industry’s making to address areas where safety can be enhanced until the question — how could this have possibly happened – is answered, we’ll never forget. It’s unfathomable, still, that a massive, modern cruise ship, outfitted with all manner of innovative navigational and safety equipment, which presumably followed International Maritime Organization regulations when it came to emergency training and evacuation procedures actually did capsize.
I remember vividly the tragedy’s unfolding, even though I was half a world away, on a Vietnam cruise on Azamara Quest. The first news we heard was that Costa Concordia had run aground. Only the week before MSC’s Poesia had met up with a reef in the Bahamas’ Port Lucaya (it waited until high tide, when a tug easily pushed it along. There was no damage to the ship, no injuries and not even a delay). So we weren’t initially worried. Ships run aground. It happens.
Some hours later, while riding in an old, anything-but-state-of-the-art motorboat on the Thu Bon River during an excursion in Hoi An, a cruise industry source sent us a text that chilled to the proverbial bone. Costa Concordia, he wrote, is listing at 20-plus degrees (an angle greater than 20 degrees signifies a real emergency as ships cannot launch lifeboats using traditional methods).
Nearly a year later, Cruise Critic asked on our Facebook page: Do you remember where you were when you heard about the capsizing of Costa Concordia? Of the 90 Cruise Critic readers who responded, 87 remembered, in sometimes astonishing detail, when they first heard. The most compelling came from Laurie Whitney Willis, who wrote, “I was on it.”
She wasn’t the only one with a story to tell.
“We were on Carnival Dream waiting to sail away from Port Canaveral. The captain made an announcement for a moment of silence just prior to departure. We watched those chilling images on our cabin TV all week during the cruise. Very sad.” – Lisa Sanchez Wiggs
“At home – friends and I who have cruised together started a group text that lasted during that morning.” – William Ball
“We had just re-boarded Norwegian Star in Cozumel. Turned the TV on that evening and it was all over the news. We did everything to keep it from our seven year old son who was with us so it would not scare him. Eventually he saw it and asked lots of questions and made sure we had a plan and knew what to do in case of an emergency. He was pretty cool and serious about the whole thing.” – Mary Lynn
“I was working on a cruise ship out in the Pacific at the time. Was sitting in the crew mess getting lunch before my next shift when we heard the news over the television. Working on a ship, those sorts of things will send shudders up your back.” – Active Planet Travels
“I was sitting in a sauna on a cruise ship. All three of us said…’let’s go book a Costa cruise! There should be some good sales’.” – Judy Mendell Donie
“We were sitting in the cruise terminal of Port Everglades waiting to board Crown Princess. There were 17 of us going on my 50th birthday cruise and the news of Costa Concordia was on the TV monitors in the waiting area. It was so sad to see that ship on its side and to hear the awful news, but the odd thing was it didn’t seem to scare anyone about getting on Crown Princess. We did have a moment of silence that day at muster for those affected in this tragic accident.” – Marie Lesicko Bartony
And we’ll finish with this one, because it articulates the sentiments of those of us here at Cruise Critic:
“I think that after this happened, all of the cruise industry took a step back and rekindled safety procedures to prove that they will know what to do in case of a disaster. It probably made cruising more safe, whereas personnel will be held accountable for training, and for captains’ not hiding problems. God bless those who lost their lives to this senseless mishap that could have been avoided.” – Joanna Thompson
How about you? What’s your memory?
A year after Concordia, what is the impact on cruising.
See 10 safety changes the cruise industry made in 2012.
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