Italian Cruise Ship Crashes, Causing Deaths, Injuries And Mass Evacuation

A disastrous Italian cruise crash Friday night killed at least five passengers and injured at least 20 more. As of Sunday night, two of the 120 Americans onboard had yet to be located after more than 4,000 were evacuated. The Costa Concordia suffered a hull breach and is 50 percent submerged. Rescuers are still searching for missing people.

CNN relayed a statement from Costa Cruises, which is a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation:

“The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and the captain’s judgment in handling the emergency appears to have not followed standard Costa procedures.”

The ship’s captain was arrested on suspicion of several crimes, including manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the vessel before passengers had evacuated.

Carrying 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members, the ship was sailing from Rome on a Mediterranean cruise when it started taking on water. The crew ill-advisedly stayed the course, but ran aground after the commander tried to make it toward a port in the Italian city o Giglio. The ship never sent out a distress signal.

Cruise ship captain may have made ‘significant’ error, company says [CNN]

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  1. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    The impression I get from reading about this is that most of the crew were more concerned with assuring passengers that there wasn’t any serious trouble. There are accounts that the crew would not lower the lifeboats until the ship was listing so bad it became impossible to lower them.
    Certainly they were terrified along with the passengers, but at some point it’s about saving lives rather than saving (company) face.
    Of course, it could also be the case that crew members were as uninformed as the passengers.
    At any rate, a frightening story. At least it didn’t happen near the US, where the government and talking heads on ‘news’ networks would be jumping all over each other to blame ‘terrorists.’

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Having worked on a cruise ship:
      Keep in mind a very large portion of the crew has no idea what’s going on as much as the passengers. Each one has their specific duty during an emergency, and sometimes that duty is simply standing at a stairwell to keep passengers moving towards the lifeboat deck. They are told little if anything, and certainly no more than the captain chooses to disclose.
      In the absence of knowing what is going on or what to do, of course they will try to alleve the passengers’ fears.

      Other common duties are checking each and every passenger room, staying with the passengers in the assembly areas and helping them with life vests, and then preparing the life boats.

  2. Chipzilla says:

    The captain abandoned ship before the passengers?

    You stay classy Italy…

    • msbask says:

      That was a rumor at first. The captioned is denying this, however.

      • Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

        The Italian prosecutor and the Italian Coast Guard are confirming it: the Captain abandoned ship while there were still hundreds of passengers aboard.

  3. Cat says:

    An Italian passenger ship disaster? Color me shocked.

    This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the sinking of the Andrea Doria.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Andrea_Doria

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      I don’t see how this is similar, though. The Andrea Doria collided with another ship on the open ocean, whereas this one apparently rammed a rock that the captain said was not on his charts.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Although different this ship collided with a reef and picked a rock along the way(photos of rock can be seen in hull gash). You would think the effects would be less although I think the Doria stayed upright longer although steadily sinking.

  4. DGC says:

    The captain was George Costanza and the crew was Chip Diller.

  5. oldwiz65 says:

    Wow…the crew not caring about saving passengers? I doubt many of the crew are from Italy anyway.

    • Snoofin says:

      I wouldve been getting off as soon as I could too. When a ship sinks, its every man for himself. Im not going to lose my life to save some snooty rich person who takes 3 cruises a year

      • Lackwit says:

        “Sorry, kids. Your parents can afford a cruise, therefore are rich, so I don’t feel an obligation to try to save any of you. Keep out of my lifeboat, need a lot of legroom.”

      • RickN says:

        You can take a cruise for a couple hundred bucks. Or for a couple thousand. Or, like one couple being interviewed this weekend, for free.

        I fail to see where being on a boat automatically makes you a snooty, rich person.

      • kobresia says:

        Stupid richers! It makes me want to burn a lower-case “t” on their fancy luxury deck to tell them it’s “time to leave”, that’s all the help I’d give them if I was a cruise employee.

    • rmorin says:

      What honor or oath do crew members on a recreational cruise need to take or have (aside from high ranking captains and the like)? Many crew members are non-nationals to the disembarkation site and work long hours for relatively little pay.

      When the boat is literally sinking, who cares about costumer service, it’s about saving your life. Your attitude is pretty elitist, that someone should potentially sacrifice their life because someone else pays money to be on the boat.

    • Jevia says:

      I read a book by a former cruise worker, who detailed how berrated the crew is, poorly paid, subsisting on 1 meal a day and very little sleep, 3-4 hours a day/night. Unless middle management gets different orders, they just tell their crew to follow regular routine.

      I would not be surprised that no one passed down the proper info, and the crew either didn’t know exactly what to do, was afraid to do something outside their routine without authorization from their manager/crew chief, and/or too tired to actually “think” on their own.

      • u1itn0w2day says:

        I think that has as much to do with it. A defacto not my job attitude from under pay and poor treatment. All they need is a simple code on the intercom, cell phone or beeper which means get the passengers in a life vest and to the life boats.

    • RandomHookup says:

      A crew member interviewed on the BBC today said they were mostly Filipino and Indian.

  6. SaltWater says:

    First, what does this news item that occurred on Friday (technically that was last week) have to do with consumerist.com and it’s mission to protect and inform consumers?
    Second, you should fire whomever is editing these articles.
    …the commander tried to make it toward a port in the Italian city o Giglio.

    • benbell says:

      Gotta meet the daily quota of articles! Weekends don’t count/get any posts anymore.

    • caradrake says:

      Well, I would not purchase a cruise that is being captained by this guy. Not because he left the ship (honestly, I probably would have too, I’d be trying to save my own life as much as possible), but because even without the rock that he said wasn’t on his charts, he was still too close to the island according to other stories – and then he never sent out a distress call, nor were they very organized in announcing when shit hit the fan, tried to blow it off.

      So yeah, I can see the consumer-aspect. I’m a consumer who is looking to take a cruise soon. Just not this one.

      • rmorin says:

        Your argument is a slippery slope:

        People buy barrier contraceptives, so should studies on their efficacy against specfific STIs be posted here?

        People pay money into schools via taxes; should every student-teacher sex-scandal be put here?

        People choose to spend money on different movies playing in the theaters; should movie reviews be here?

        The fact of the matter is that the intent of the blog has been severely clouded in an effort to garner page views. This is not general news aggregation, this is a blog dedicated to consumer issues. Your defense of this post could literally be applied to *anything* the authors decided to post.

    • webweazel says:

      Agreed. The hundreds of tips they get each day from readers looking for help or giving tips to be posted are simply ignored nowadays so they can post fluff like this. This is so that they can post 30+ articles a day. Thus, anyone who makes comments will not be read by anyone else past the four-hour mark of the article, so anyone who writes any helpful info in the comments will never be read by anyone else. I, myself, would rather read FIVE articles per day of pertinent consumer information than read a deluge of irrelevant fluff. I would rather sit and enjoy my cup of tea and a nice book rather than try and drink from a firehose. They seem to think we WANT the firehose.

  7. Browncoat says:

    A cruise ship is a prison that can sink.

    • RickN says:

      I can tell you’ve never been on a cruise or been to prison.

      • Tyanna says:

        You never know, he might have been apart of the staff….

      • Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

        Since one out of 3 American men is arrested before age 23, I wouldn’t be too quick to assume someone hasn’t seen the inside of a jail cell.

        But yeah, far fewer Americans have been on cruises.

  8. petermv says:

    Lots of misinformation from this source. The ship did make a distress call, perhaps delayed, but it was sent. The captain left the ship at about 23:30, not like he was first off the ship.

    • Crymansqua says:

      From my understanding, they didn’t put out an emergency until AFTER they had already begun evac, which was some time after the ship actually struck a rock.

  9. u1itn0w2day says:

    I always wondered what would happen to top heavy ship like most of the cruise ships are. If you ever go by one in a small boat it’s stunning how tall they are. This should be a wake up call to hold life boat drills before departing. Although with the list I don’t see that much difference. Maybe the ships need to have an emergency method to offset a listing ship like somekind of float bags that could be deployed on the side that’s sinking.

    As bad as it was if the ship had listed and sank in deeper waters this would’ve been the Titanic all over. When I say deeper waters I’m saying 200 ft or so and not the 100 ft of water it’s in now.

    I never got the cruise thing. I’d rather buy time at resort if you have to do things like get dressed up or are in an enclosed space/artificial enviorment.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      This should be a wake up call to hold life boat drills before departing.

      US based cruises do a safety drill within hours of sailing. They scan passanger’s ID cards to ensure everyone went; I’ve been told they try to hunt down the people who missed the general assembly to ensure that all passanger’s get the drill.

      • msbask says:

        I just took a cruise in September and everything you say is true.

        Our muster drill took place before we ever left the harbor (although to be fair, our sailing was delayed so that people could see the Towers of Light in lower Manhattan).

        There were several people who were escorted to the drill by uniformed people. I can only imagine that these were the people trying to skip the whole thing.

      • Captain Walker says:

        This ship was on a pattern where new passengers got on or off every day. You book 7 days, you get 7 days. But they only did drills once/week, so many passengers would never have seen a drill, which is a bad way to do this. I’m sure Costa has already changed the rules.

        Reason number 116 to take a cruise where the main language spoken on the alerts is a language you speak. There were announcements made, in Italian, and if you didn’t understand, you didn’t know what was going on.

        • oldwiz65 says:

          You would think that in case of a serious emergency they would repeat announcements in multiple languages. If you don’t speak Italian, it’s hard to tell the difference between “We are having a special party in the ballroom, you are welcome to come” and “The ship is sinking. Please pray to any gods you know and kiss your a** goodbye”.

          • Captain Walker says:

            They do.

            They do the announcement in Italian first. Good luck hearing anything after an announcement with the word “emergency” (in a foreign language to you) is made.

      • Sparkstalker says:

        Both that I’ve been on has been before departure. We had to wear our life vests and go to our assigned muster station. In addition, while in one of our ports of call, the crew would have emergency drill practice,

    • homehome says:

      This had nothing to do with drilling, the captain bailed and obviously having 1000 employees on board and im sure very few of them knew what was going on. So how do you prepare for a disaster when 90% + of the ppl onboard don’t know what’s going on?

      • u1itn0w2day says:

        Perhaps not actual drills but they need better communication with the crew to signify this is a get a life vest and get to the life boat emergency. Just announce code red or something put 911 in a mass text including personal communication devices crew members should have.

        And what is the rule of thumb when a ship not only starts sinking but listing. Not what’s this company’s procedure but what is the general maritime practice?

        • ConsumerA says:

          There’s no need to use messaging devices to notify the crew. If there’s an emergency, they sound a General Alarm of seven short blasts followed by one long blast of the ship’s horn. All crew members should know that this means an emergency has taken place. Any passengers that have gone through a muster drill would know this as well. Unfortunately, the muster drill for this cruise ship wasn’t scheduled until the following day so many first-time cruisers didn’t know what to do.

          • amuro98 says:

            Are you sure about that? When we went on our Alaskan cruise, the Muster Drill was held BEFORE we left the dock. The drill was not mandatory, but you were strongly encouraged to participate.

            This was a Princess liner, maybe the different companies do things differently?

  10. Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

    The real lesson here is that, if it’s obvious something’s going wrong with your ship, building, etc — start heading for the exit.

    In so many emergencies, people just sit there, waiting to be told what to do, and usually being re-assured that “nothing’s wrong, stay where you are” by equally clueless authority figures.

    The survivors are the ones who get up and head for the exit.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      True. Every time we have a fire drill at work this happens. And we work in a wood shop, where even the dust systems can’t keep all the sawdust out of the air/floor/all over everything else. One spark and FOOM!

      I keep my stuff close to me and practice grabbing it every time we have one. And when we have a tornado warning and it looks like it’s coming our way, my purse and computer go right into the bathroom (shelter).

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Self initative, absolutely. More than likely you be told to do something else if your spotted doing something wrong. On a sinking ship I don’t think you could go wrong be going straight up, if a ship is listing I’d head up.

      The best thing on a cruise especially since a ship not as simple as tubular airplane is immediately become aware of your surroundings. Look at an emergency diagram like they put in buildings. Take note of life boat locations and life vest /preserver locations.

      Perhaps these cruise ships should give you a a safety diagram or phamplet much like the airlines have in the back of seat BEFORE departing or even boarding.

  11. AllanG54 says:

    Any ship that sails about 500 feet from an island when it’s not docking is bound to hit something. When I was on a European cruise last year the Concordia was docked across from our ship in Civitavecchia. I have some great shots of it in its normal position. It looks much better than being on its side.

  12. nodaybuttoday says:

    I read a first hand account from a passenger that was on this cruise ship and I was surprised by how unresponsive Costa was in helping everyone. Once on land, she and her younger daughter were pushed from line to line, waiting hours just to know what was going on what to do. Very few people spoke English. The islanders at Giglio were nice enough to have given out sweat shirts and so on to people who were freezing and hurt. Then they got sent to the mainland and put into a hotel. By Sunday the Costa reps were gone, they didn’t even stay until everyone had been able to get a flight home. When something this huge happens, you better have reps there who help each person and speak personally to them until every single person is home and safe.

  13. smo0 says:

    All I read was “Costa Cruises, which is a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation” …. and I had my answer.

  14. rushevents says:

    Now I’ll NEVER get my wife to go on a cruise.

  15. gman863 says:

    Looks like the Titanic 100th anniversary cruise happened a month early.

  16. oldwiz65 says:

    So how many lawyers are preparing to sue Costa/Carnival? They should make a fortune! One day we read about a ship that lost power and had no backup and needed help from the U.S. navy to feed the people onboard, now one more or less sinks?

    Are the cruise lines cutting back so far on expenses and cost of building safe ships that they now jeopardize safety?

  17. vastrightwing says:

    Reason # 12,431 not to take a cruise: mad captains taking the ship off it’s programmed course so he can wave to his retired buddies.

  18. Dr.Wang says:

    Yet another example of why I would never ride on a cruise ship. They’re all top heavy and unsteady. Look how easily they capsize.