Here's a link to today's Montreal Gazette article about the sinking of the Sea Diamond in Greece. Onboard, and credited with helping some elderly passengers escape, were a group of Montreal area High School students on a school trip. http://www.canada.com/montrealgazett...8fa0e7&k=86434
You know... seeing how unorganized and chaotic this incident was makes me pause to wonder aloud.... woould this actually be the norm in such a situation regardless? Sounds like a poll question to me...
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Just wondering if anyone here read what I wrote about the incident in the "CruiseMates news" pages (below). I have received both positive and negative responses including one former cruise director who said I sounded as if I thought I could have predicted what could happen.
4-09-07: CruiseMates' Statement on Recent MV Sea Diamond Tragedy
In light of the recent tragedy involving the Greek cruise ship, MV Sea Diamond, the online cruise guide, CruiseMates wants to make its editorial policy clear. Editorially, CruiseMates does not cover ships or cruise lines that are not regularly marketed to the U.S. cruising public. This includes the MV Sea Diamond of the Louis Cruise Lines, a subsidiary of Louis plc, listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange.
The reason we do not write about them is that we do not recommend them to our readers. They do not offer the same standards for comfort, safety and convenience. The cruise lines we cover are all members of the Cruise Line International Association and the International Council of Cruise Lines (recently merged: Web site). Our cruise lines have much higher standards and a much better safety record over all.
We want our readers to know that the incident aboard the MV Sea Diamond is not in any way representative of the sort of cruising that we describe in our articles. 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. By many accounts, many of the Americans on board were U.S. high school students presumably in groups being led by adult supervisors. This leads us to wonder if lines such as Louis may be marketing directly to high schools or the tour operators who help to organize such group journeys for young people. In the same way, we were also saddened to see to reports of this incident in U.S. papers and Web sites making reference to reputable cruise lines that CruiseMates does cover, giving the overall impression that this incident is somehow related to the U.S. market cruise industry, which it is not.
In the same vein, no sponsor of CruiseMates has ever advertised a vessel such as the MV Sea Diamond on our site, and as far as we know, they would not sell such a trip. Frankly, we do not know how the U.S. citizens that were on this vessel found out about the ship, but it certainly was not through CruiseMates. Therefore, we wish they had consulted our site before making such an ill-informed decision.
For a reputable accounting of worldwide passenger vessel tragedies, we recommend this web site from PBS.org. In this list you will see that the last CLIA-member cruise ship that sank was the Holland America Prinsendam (not the one of the same name currently sailing). In this 1980 incident all of the passengers were rescued with no medical emergencies.
In the same list, you will see that other ships have sunk while on cruises with passengers, but these ships belonged to cruise lines that typically catered to foreign passengers, and do not qualify as "cruise vacation" vessels by CruiseMates' definition. In one incident, the Estonian Steamship Line's "Estonia," while enroute to Stockholm, hit rough seas and sank in the Baltic Sea. Over 900 lives were lost; most of the passengers never made it out of their cabins. Another ship also belonged to a Greek cruise line, Epirotiki. This ship, the Oceanos, sank off the coast of South Africa after springing a leak. All passengers were safely rescued.
The Estonia and The MV Sea Diamond both fall into the category of "passenger ferries" as far as we are concerned. Yes, they offer cabins and meals on board, but the number of passengers they pack into their gross tonnage makes them far more like simple transportation vessels than vacation experiences unto themselves.
MV Sea Diamond was built in 1986 and underwent extensive refurbishment in 1999. She joined Louis Hellenic Cruises' fleet in 2006. The ship's statistics point out the differences between a passenger conveyance vessel and a Cruisemates' recommended cruise ship. MV Sea Diamond's size is a mere 22,412 gross tons yet she carried 1500 passengers in a mere 584 cabins serviced by only four elevators.
CLIA- member cruise ships of this size rarely carry more than 300 passengers.
In addition, it saddens us to say that in general we do not trust any ship that is completely staffed by Greek officers. Though there have been exceptions in the past, notably the original Celebrity Cruises as built by John Chandris, ships managed by Greek officers have a track record of not following procedure, especially in a crisis. The MV Sea Diamond is one example, and the Oceanos is another. When the Oceanos sank, it is well documented that the officers and crew were among the first in the lifeboats, and that the rescue of the passengers was accomplished by a (non-Greek) musician in the stage band who stayed on board to contact help and assist in the complete evacuation of all passengers. In the MV Sea Diamond incident it was reported that the emergency alarm did not sound immediately, but that passengers were notified of the emergency by crew members in life jackets running through the ship.
This is not to say that all Greek officers are unqualified. However, it is a fact that Greek companies fully staff none of the cruise lines that CruiseMates covers editorially. In general, they use Norwegian, Dutch, Italian, British and American officers.
Here is one response I got:
How could you state what you said on your website, "we wish they had consulted our site before making such an ill-informed decision."
Like you knew it would happen. I am no longer a fan of your site.
[ I am the] Ex Cruise Director QE2, Cunard Princess, Cunard Countess and many other ships with American Express Travel. I will put the word out.
How dare you state what you said..
Let's buy Code a trip on that cruiseline's next sailing! Will he/she board?
I think it is better to be able to make an informed decision. As a parent I want my child on the safest ship possible. I'm sorry if this offends Code. How dare he/she try to sugar coat the news. I find this offensive. I also wonder why Code is an EX cruise director?
If you are going to walk on thin ice, you may as well dance!
Paul, Your editorial in no way stated that you knew this tragic accident was going to happen! There are differences in the required safety for those cruise lines that market in the U.S. and those that do not.
Because accidents can happen, it is important to be informed when making travel decisions. CruiseMates is one way to gather information about the various cruise lines and ships.
Your article did an excellent job of pointing out some of those differences!
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Thanks for the reply. I don't wish "Code" any ill will, I just think he sees things a little differently. But I was also surprised a cruise director from Cunard, which has a heritage of good captains, would be offended by what I said.
By the way, "Code" is not his real name, it is a "code name". ;-)
One friends kid was on this ship that sank, and another friends kid was to be on the ship this week, as he left for the same trip with the school if I am not mistaken Friday. It wasnt booked as a cruise trip, but rather was a part of a land trip ( 3 days on the boat if I remember corerectly) . To me, this is not a cruise ship, but a ferry, like many ferries that you see around the world, including the one that connects Nova Scotia to Newfoundland here in Canada and also we have many of them out west, and we had a sinking here not that long ago in BC where two lives were lost. ( ferry ran aground in the night, human error to blame for this accident) Personally, I would not look at this as anything other than a ferry and for sure not a cruise. Just a little correction, the sinking of the Estonia saw 852 lives lost, not over 900. As an FYI while some staff were great apparently( I was not there) I have been told the vast majority were not, did not know what to do, and it ended up that young people, passengers were helping those who were old.
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