Prosecutor says captain left ship early
By Laura Bly, USA TODAY
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In a chaotic scene eerily evocative of the Titanic — which struck an iceberg and sank a century ago this April — at least five people have died and 15 remained missing Sunday after a state-of-the-art cruise ship hit an unidentified reef or rock and toppled over just off Italy’s Tuscan coast on the evening of Friday the 13th.
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There was no lifeboat drill after the ship’s departure from Citavecchia (Rome), and passengers complained that the crew failed to give instructions on how to evacuate and delayed lowering the lifeboats until the ship was listing too heavily for many of them to be released.
Some passengers jumped into the sea while others waited to be plucked to safety by helicopters, and some lifeboats had to be cut down with an ax.
Under U.S. Coast Guard and the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea regulations, cruise ships must conduct a safety drill within 24 hours of sailing with instructions on the use of life jackets and how and where to muster in an emergency.
But passengers are not required to attend, and cruise lines vary in how quickly they hold the drill and how stringently they enforce passenger participation.
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I can only remember being on commercial boats a few times in my life.
One cruise (i.e., “Days Of Our Lives” theme) and two ferry rides in Switzerland.
The NCL ship out of Miami had the required drill as we were leaving the harbor. And, the Captain, who’s name I don’t know was a stickler. The bars would NOT open until all passengers were at their station, verified by their room attendant, and identified by their floor supervisor. The process took ten minutes because as the Captain explained that there were a two non-cooperating passengers and two other discrepancies in the manifest. He apologized and, when he said the non-cooperators would be returning to shore on the pilot boat, the crowd cheered. Then he dismissed us with “The bars are now open. Have fun.” I have no idea if there were any non-cooperators. Nor if there were discrepancies. Nor, it there was anyone kicked off. But the bars did open. And, I felt confident that this guy was running his ship. Maybe it was all show and “theater”.
The two Swiss ferry rides had their drill after every stop. The ferry paused as soon as it pulled away and their was an airline safety briefing. In four languages. Two different “ferry lines”. But it seemed like the were following the same script. And, the crews were serious. No kidding around. Before and after the briefing, they were down right jolly; during, stern.
Maybe this is stuff that consumers have to demand. BEFORE they buy. Self-defense.
Maybe the bad press will make even bigger bargains?
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