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Old April 11th, 2007, 08:31 AM
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Paul Motter Paul Motter is offline
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I received this letter in response to my editorial here:

I would like to express my displeasure with your
editorial on the Sea Diamond tragedy, particularly
with your statement, "In fact, we were rather
surprised, and saddened, to read reports that the
majority of passengers on this ship were of U.S. or
Canadian citizenship." This gives the impression that
the lives of the people of other nationalities
onboard, such as Britons, Australians and the Spanish,
were not as valued. Every life is precious and to
imply that only the lives of Americans are important
only cements the negative perception that many in the
rest of the world have of Americans-that we are
arrogant and bossy. I am disappointed to read such a
sanctimonious sentiment in a website that is purported
to be well respected in the cruise industry.

In addition, I take exception to your implication that
your "preferred" ships always have a better safety
record. Granted, accidents such as the one that
occurred on the Sea Diamond are rare and cruising is
one of the most safest vacations anyone can take.
However, these rare accidents do not only occur
overseas on non CLIA ships. A Princess ship caught
fire nearly a year ago. No one was hurt, however, the
ship was out of commission for a short while. Two
years ago, an NCL ship was engulfed in a rogue wave
and listed. Although no one was hurt in that incident
either, it does negate the assertion that accidents
never happen on CLIA ships. Just because a cruise line
happens to pass some subjective standard, dosen't mean
that accidents will never happen. As long as humans
control these ships, there is always a small
possibility that a mistake in judgement will be made
and something will happen, just as there is always a
possibility of having a car accident or falling in
your home. 

None of this will keep me from cruising. However, it
will keep me from visiting your website in the future
as long as you and your staff keep having a smug
attitude. This was a tragic incident. Why make it
worse by blaming the passengers that sailed on it?
This was my reply . . .

You are not the first to take umbrage with my statement, so I must have to clarify it. Thank you for your letter.

My point has nothing to do with whose life is more valuable, it has to do with the maritime standards demanded by the US Market.

Every ship we cover visits US ports, and therefore is subject to continuous and rigorous testing by the US Coast Guard for safety and the CDC for health. There are many ships that never visit the US for this very reason alone, including (surprisingly) the popular cruise line Windjammer.

In any case, I feel what you may be missing in my editorial is that this is no accident. It is malfeasance at sea. No captain I ever met would allow his ship to hit a visible reef, and furthermore, instead of sounding the emergency alarm he apparenly tried to get it off the reef first. The way ships are supposed to be constructed, if the hole was so gaping, it would have had to tear through at least three watertight sections for the ship to sink so quickly, or else the ship was not functioning properly (water-tight doors not closing). Either way, extreme malfeasance.

Another difference is in how it was handled by the staff and crew. This staff did not sound the emergency alarm and get people off the ship in a controlled fashion. The crew found out something was wrong and started running around the ship yelling for people to put on life jackets.

I have to emphasize that there are six people liable to be brought up on charges in this case, while NCL was completely cleared in the rogue wave case, even in civil court in which the proof only has to be a presumption of evidence versus a reasonable doubt (US law). The Princess fire was an accident in the sense that they did not cause the fire, a passenger's cigarette did. They handled the incident with completely professional procedures and there was tragically one death for which they are being sued, but no criminal charges were ever brought up.

I urge you to look at the facts of the Greek Epirotiki Oceanus sinking. The entirely Greek staff were the first in the lifeboats and left the passengers to fend for themselves. If a member of the stageband had not gotten on the radio to summon help everyone would have died. There are too many similarities to this case for me to turn a blind eye.

Here is a video re-telling of the Oceanus Incident:
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