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Old April 10th, 2007, 09:50 PM
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Default Mv Sea Diamond Sinking

First of all - welcome to the cruise news message board. If it is in the news, this is where you go to talk about it.

This subject: MV Sea Diamond...

First of all, I find it crazy that people are calling this a "cruise ship." I have been on these Greek ferries and they are not even close to being on par with the cheapest Carnival, RCI or NCL cruise you can buy.

They are not governed by the Coast Guard or CDC, and they never enter US waters. If they wanted to, they probably wouldn't be allowed.

I just find it demeaning when the media does a story on a "cruise ship" like this and does not draw the distinction between the kind of conditions on this ship and what we see from the cruise lines we here at CM are all familiar with. All it does is add to further misperceptions about what the cruising we all know & love is about.

The Sea Diamond SANK, for Lord's sake. That is serious. If it could sink either the hole was just gaping and the captain should not have tried to get it off the rocks, or the boat was not built right in the first place. Either way, there is serious malfeasance in this case.

Did the media miss the point that 6 people will likely be brought up on criminal charges in this case? How many captains do you know who would hit a visible reef? None. And then on top of that, apparently they did the same thing as the Greek staff did in the Oceanus case; staff and crew in the lifeboats first, and women and children last - at least partially, there are records of people saying it was chaos and there is no mention of a safety drill or whether the emergency signal was ever even blown on the vessel at all.

I see it all over the media - stories about this ship with links to other "cruise ship horror stories" that talk about the Star Princess and NCL Rogue wave. Don't they know the difference between this tugboat and what the US market cruise lines offer? Neither of "our" ships had anyone brought up on charges. NCL was completely cleared even in civil court (where the evidence only needs to be a presumption, not beyond reasonable doubt).

The worst event that happened with any "fault" of a cruise line was the Star Princess list. And it was very serious, but after the initial error was made there was no negligence by any officers - no one brought up on charges. I just find it extraordinary that they are doing so many stories on this and not drawing that distinction.

What do you think about this?
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Old April 11th, 2007, 09:31 AM
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I received this letter in response to my editorial here:
http://cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story28

Code:
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:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BFux2AAMso
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Old April 11th, 2007, 12:26 PM
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Today the cruise line announced that the accident was due to Human Error.

Unfortunately human error on a cruise ship can lead to much more serious and wide-spread consequences than something like car accidents on land, where most are also due to human error.

What surprised me about this story was the large number of school groups onboard this ship. You'd think the organizers, school administration depts, and school boards would check out these ships to see if they would be appropriate for kids from their schools.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 01:15 PM
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I believe that your editorial regarding the Sea Diamond sinking was very accurate and fair and pulled no punches. Unfortunately nowadays someone will take offense no matter what!

I would have preferred if it hadn't been necessary for you to make a "clarification" in order to be "politically correct".
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Old April 11th, 2007, 01:30 PM
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Thank you Marjmehl, I really appreciate it, because one only hears from the complainers these days.

But as it was not my intention to hurt anyone's feelings I don't mind doing the clarification. To be honest, I was just trying to be brief, and when you start having to clarify and position everything you say, you get off the topic.

However, I was happy to reiterate that I see a big difference between this "incident" and an "accident."
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Old April 11th, 2007, 03:12 PM
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I had never heard of this ship or cruise line before the accident. Several of the students were from Boca Raton, Florida, close to where I live, and I could not help wondering why they traveled so far to take a cruise on such a little known ship when there are so many to choose from these days. I suppose it was the price of the tickets.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 03:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat Hagan Singles Editor
I had never heard of this ship or cruise line before the accident. Several of the students were from Boca Raton, Florida, close to where I live, and I could not help wondering why they traveled so far to take a cruise on such a little known ship when there are so many to choose from these days. I suppose it was the price of the

tickets.
I also had never heard of this ship or line. I was surprised to learn that the majority of the passengers were American. I wonder how they even heard of it. It would never occur to me to cruise on anything but one of our mainstream "American" cruise lines.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 04:24 PM
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I read somewhere that one of the common European tour operators sells this ship as part of their European tours.

When doing a land tour in europe, a ferry is still the easiest way to get from Italy to Greece, otherwise you have to go up the boot and down through Croatia. Did it myself back in 1984 (took a Greek Ferry to Athens from Bari).

I paid extra for a cot in room with three other people.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 06:04 PM
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I agree that this ship should not be considered a "cruise ship" and is a ferry. It is an older vessel and the passenger to crew ratio was ridiculous high. (approx 5:1) The ship held 1500 passenger and had a gross registered tonnage of 22,400. Cramped quarters at best.

The only exception I took with the initial editorial statement was the blanket statement about Greek Officers. While there have been incidents of ships sinking where Greek Officers demonstrated themselves as cowards there are also thousands of vessels, commanded by Greek and many other nationalities, that sail safely throughout the world that maintain high safety standards. Sea transportation is more common in Europe and Asia than it is in the United States.

There are cruise lines that can be sailed that are not part of CLIA who can be sailed with confidence and safety. Viking River cruises, Avalon Waterways, Peter Deilman Cruises, Hapag Lloyd, Fred Olsen, Saga tours and others are such examples. Granted, if you are looking for a true American "cruise" experience than you should book with a CLIA member cruise line and your chances of disappointment will be far less.

Take care,
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Old April 11th, 2007, 06:41 PM
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No, I did retract the statement about the Greek officers. I was just so insensed with the Epirotiki tragedy where they abandoned ship, and then this one where we don't actually know yet, but I have a bad feeling. There is a reason why some people work where they work, because they can get away with less than top standards.

I am going on a lot of gut reaction here, but I think I have a good sense in the "what really happened" department. Like when the couple went overboard, I knew they were "doin' it" on the balcony. All this stuff about "they fell off," and "he rescued her" was bunk. They were being, ummm, careless.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 08:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter
Thank you Marjmehl, I really appreciate it, because one only hears from the complainers these days.

But as it was not my intention to hurt anyone's feelings I don't mind doing the clarification. To be honest, I was just trying to be brief, and when you start having to clarify and position everything you say, you get off the topic.

However, I was happy to reiterate that I see a big difference between this "incident" and an "accident."
I wanted to thank you for your editorial because I would have assumed all cruise lines adhered to stringent safety standards, so thank you and I am not complaining! Also, you are correct when stating that for the sake of brevity, you can't possibly clarify each position; you are not writing a legal brief and everyone hates footnotes.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 10:04 PM
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I was one of those "complainers" who took exception to the editorial. Although I appreciate the amended statement about the qualifications of Greek officers in general, I still feel that the overall tone of the piece was smug, especially in light of the fact that not of all the details have even been revealed. I had also never heard of this ship before last week. However, for those passengers that were unfortunate enough to have been on the ship, to suggest that they should have contacted their travel agents beforehand is heavy handed and heartless. Not all travel agents have their clients best interest at heart as some are only interested in making the sale. Perhaps these passengers simply assumed that this ship was up to the same standard. Not everyone is aware that websites such as Cruisemates exist as a resource. Before we play judge and jury, I suggest that we wait until ALL of the facts are revealed. If that makes me a "whiner", a "complainer" or someone who wants to be "politically correct" then so be it.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 03:55 AM
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Lady...

It is often easy to read a "tone" into writing that actually isn't there. And you seem to think I am blaming these kids for being careless. That really is not my point at all. I don't expect anyone to know everything, especially kids.

I only blame the officers of this ship to whom several lives had been entrusted, and I blame the cruise line for not having very good standards.
I believe the adults who were guiding these kids should have checked out the ferries they chose to take these kids on before the embarked. Ferries have a far lower safety record than cruise ships do.

But as you say, several people have no idea that any one ship is run any differently from another. And that is precisely WHY I am on my soapbox to express my feelings about this - because they are different and people need to know that.

Do you realize how rare it is for a cruise ship on a revenue cruise to sink, even if they do get all the passengers off first? extremely rare.

This is a black eye on the cruise industry as far as all the uninformed people are concerned, but it shouldn't be, because no modern cruise ship that I would recommend to a group of kids would reef and then sink like that. And that further misperception about the general safety of "real" cruise ships also irks me.

Had they asked me first I would have said, "check this company out before you sail on it." The fact that the ship did sink proves I am correct in my point of view about these boats. This was not an accident. It was bad management.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 05:37 AM
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Thanks Paul, I wrote something simliar on another thread and a couple lit into me. Others still came to my defense though.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 07:37 AM
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Does anyone know if they are planning to salvage the wreck? It is in 320 feet of water with a 100 foot gash so I imagine it might be hard to float. Still, it seems like an easy location for salvagers to make a killing.

thanks,
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Old April 12th, 2007, 07:44 AM
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I don't know Mark, but I do wonder, too. Thats a multi-million dollar ship sitting down there, and it isn't all that deep. If they did it soon, they might be able to save a large part of it. If they don't, it was probably just a tub anyway.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 07:53 AM
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Paul, do you think, if they were to salvage it, they would actually use it again? I know I wouldn't get on it.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 09:30 AM
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Let me get this correct......a 22,000 ton ship with almost 2,000 people onboard.

The 8 "R" ships are 30,000 tons and hold 690 passengers plus a crew of 370. The HAL Maasdam at 55,500 tons holds 1,300 passengers and a crew of 600. The OOsterdam at 85,000 tons holds 1,850 passengers and a crew of 800.

I could keep going about ship size and passenger capacity, but just the number of passengers crammed into such a small ship tells me there is something wrong with this cruise line.

Paul, you are correct, this is a ferry, not a cruise ship.

I really wonder how TA's found this cruise line and actively marketed it in the US as a cruise ship. This issue is worth investigating.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 11:24 AM
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I read a newspaper article that did say one of the big Europe tour operators (I think Globus, but don't quote me) used to sell the ship as part of their tour packages which usually use buses and/or rail. As I said, to get from Italy to Greece a ferry is the best way.

But this was not a cruise ship, not with those kinds of cabins. It was a 1986 model, and if you look at the current cruise industry (U.S.) we have only a few ships that old, and they are at least twice the size for a similar number of passengers.

One of the oldest & smallest ships out there is 34,000-ton, 1,104-passenger Norwegian Crown. And it will be retired from NCL very soon, I believe. The Sea Diamond was 1/3 smaller, and 1/3 more passengers, arguably twice as crowded.

But the main point is that a captain hit a visible reef. Sticking out of the water. And what does he blame? the currents.

Isn't a captain's entire job about dealing with currents? I mean ships don't have breaks. You have to know how the ship is acting at all times and compensate ahead of time. He said he saw the reef and did try to compensate, but it didn't make any difference.

Honestly, I know other events have happened, but the thing that riles me so much about this is that a ship went down. That puts a big scare into a lot of people who don't care that all but two got off safely. A passenger ship went down, and that is a big deal.

Do I think they would re-use any of it? I don't know, but I think it could be possible. I am no expert in that. If it is just scrap metal, then I'm guessing they will only salvage it is to preserve the caldera in Santorini. It was very close to shore, and it just goes to show you how steep that caldera must be. They said it went down 100 feet.

There is so much that has not been revealed yet. I read a news report today that said the emergency signal was never sounded. But it said despite that, some crew-people managed the evacuation in a somewhat disorganized but nevertheless effective way.

What has not been revealed is the action of all the officers during this entire sequence of events. But if they are being charged, you know the Greek officials know something.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 01:07 PM
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New details emerging... and pretty much as I expected:

From a newswire report:

Quote:
The ship's captain and 5 other officers were indicted on charges of negligence, breaching safety regulations, and polluting the environment. The captain blamed strong currents for sweeping his vessel into the reef just before docking, but locals said that it took over 30 minutes to contact him for instructions on assisting the evacuation.
Umm... 30 minutes to contact a captain who had just hit a reef? Once again, was he drunk, or maybe packing his bags?
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Old April 12th, 2007, 03:49 PM
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Well done on your criticism of this captain.

I have taken a number of cruises and have been a life-long yacht owner. Whenever troubles have occurred on one of the major carriers, passengers are kept well informed. I have never had a major disaster (let alone a small one) on one of the major lines.

The worst was losing an engine nd waiting for it to be reparied. No one was in any danger and the captain kept us well informed.

After the Greek accident, I went to the ships' web page. This was a second to third class operation and your description of a dolled up ferry may have been generous. WELL DONE!
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Old April 12th, 2007, 04:49 PM
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I, too, am curious if they will raise the ship, if just to clean up the "garbage", so to speak.

Actually, this ship took several hours to sink, which would indicate that the damage to the hull wasn't super severe. I doubt there is a 100-foot gash in the hull.

Interestingly, the damage to the Titanic, caused by the iceberg is only 12 square feet. That is the size of your average household front door.

The ship could probably be raised, and then scrapped. I doubt it would ever be put back into service, as it would be very expensive, and this low-budget ferry line wouldn't want to spend the money to do so.

Dean
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Old April 12th, 2007, 05:37 PM
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I have to amend my previous statement. The passenger to crew ratio was not 5:1 it was just over 3:1. Passengers 1195, Crew 391. This was at the time of the collision. The information, I had was from the Louis Cruises website that stated full capacity at 1537 passengers. The ship was either not sailing full or they had lowered the number of passengers.

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Old April 12th, 2007, 07:12 PM
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Pat,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
I had never heard of this ship or cruise line before the accident. Several of the students were from Boca Raton, Florida, close to where I live, and I could not help wondering why they traveled so far to take a cruise on such a little known ship when there are so many to choose from these days. I suppose it was the price of the tickets.
Actually, both Louis Cruise Lines and MV Sea Diamond are listed in the 2007 edition of the Berlitz Guide to Cruising. That guide says that the ship was originally entered service as the cruise ferry MV Birka Princess for Birka Lines. A sister vessel that was under construction by Valmet (in Finland) when the shipyard went bankrupt was subsequently completed as MV Royal Majesty of Royal Majesty Cruises and became MV Norwegian Majesty when Norwegian Cruise Line acquired Majesty Cruises.

Louis Cruise Lines purchased MV Birka Princess in 2006 and did a major conversion to make her into a strictly passenger vessel. While she does not rise to the standards of the ships operated by the major lines marketed in North America, she does have exensive shops, bars, lounges, a childrens' center, and a spa. Louis Cruises marketed her primarily in Europe, so the on-board currency was the Euro.

Norm.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 07:20 PM
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slotl,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Let me get this correct......a 22,000 ton ship with almost 2,000 people onboard.
Not quite. Rated capacity is 1,168 passengers (lower berths) and maximum capacity is 1,537 passengers (all berths). It's still pretty dense occupancy, but not nearly as bad as your figure.

Norm.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 02:40 AM
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Illiac... thank you! I can't help but feel compelled to point out the differences here.

Rev.. while you are correct about density in ships of old, I believe my point here is that those ARE ships of old, which are not nearly as well made, or just plain as NEW, as the ships we are used to. Ships age, they wear out, and it is hard to update an old vessel for maneuaverability.

As the average age of the U.S. market fleet is getting younger, and cruises so affordable, there is no reason to take old ships like these. How many commercial prop planes do you feel safe on these days?

Regarding the ship itself, do you not wonder if these "elusive currents" could have been managed by a more modern ship? It isn't just a matter of size or density, it is equipment. Did it have pods (no), it might have had bow thrusters (probably) but how effective? Were they even working? We know nothing of what actions this captain took or the safety record of this ship. Would a more modern ship have been able to avoid this tragedy under the same circumstances?

You also have to ask about the captain's actions more than the ship itself. Currents aren't like the wind, changing at any given moment.
When did he see the reef which he tried to avoid and couldn't. Do currents change so much that he didn't know how to avoid it? If so, why haven't other ships hit this reef?

Why did it take 1/2 hour for outside authorities to raise him on the radio to assist in rescue efforts?
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Old April 14th, 2007, 02:29 PM
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The last article I read said the ship is 100 METERS down, not 100 feet. That is pretty far down.
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Old April 14th, 2007, 06:53 PM
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New News story...

Hot Springs Arkansas paper says...

Quote:
A Hot Springs couple that was aboard a cruise ship that sunk earlier this month near Greece say a ship employee's kindness helped them survive.

...

Oteka Best was born without hip sockets, and has difficulty climbing and walking uphill. When the ship began to sink, cruise passengers were escaping by climbing down ropes.

The Bests worried that Oteka wouldn't be able to make it down the rope. But then, a cruise ship entertainer offered to carry Oteka down the ropes on his shoulders.
OK - passengers were climbing down ropes to escape the ship? What exactly happened here? I am continually surprised that there is so little known about this, especially pics and video. Wasn't anyone documenting this? I know I would have been.
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Old April 15th, 2007, 12:11 AM
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Default A question for you Paul

If a ship is listing what is the way to get into the life boats? I'm curious.

Seems it would not be very dafe to climb in then lower the boats at an angle.
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Old April 15th, 2007, 02:44 AM
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Paul,

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Originally Posted by You
Rev.. while you are correct about density in ships of old, I believe my point here is that those ARE ships of old, which are not nearly as well made, or just plain as NEW, as the ships we are used to. Ships age, they wear out, and it is hard to update an old vessel for maneuaverability.
Having maneuvered ships in my past life as a naval officer, I can tell you that this ship did not suffer from a lack of maneuverability. Indeed, it was designed as a ferry that would have to maneuver into and out of berths on a daily basis. Any "twin screw" ship can turn on a dime, and bow and stern side thrusters were standard equipment on commercial ships well before 1986, when this ship entered service, because the savings in tug services paid their cost in a matter of months if not weeks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
As the average age of the U.S. market fleet is getting younger, and cruises so affordable, there is no reason to take old ships like these.
That's true, but it's important to remember that the North American market has driving forces that have not come into the European cruise market yet. These driving forces include enough growth in demand for cruises on the major lines to support the economy of scale that the "bigger and better" ships of the major lines now provide. It was not always that way. Also, this economy of scale has pushed the fares of the "mainstream" lines below the cost structure of many of the "economy" lines, causing many of the latter that operated older ships in the American market (Commodore Cruises, Dolphin Cruises, Premier Cruises, American Hawai'i Lines, etc.) to go out of business.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
How many commercial prop planes do you feel safe on these days?
I avoid all props -- including the brand new "state of the art" models like Bombardier's "Q" Series (Q-200, Q-300, Q-400) -- like the plague, but not because they are fundamentally unsafe. They are just less comfortable and more noisy than jet aircraft.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Regarding the ship itself, do you not wonder if these "elusive currents" could have been managed by a more modern ship? It isn't just a matter of size or density, it is equipment. Did it have pods (no), it might have had bow thrusters (probably) but how effective? Were they even working? We know nothing of what actions this captain took or the safety record of this ship. Would a more modern ship have been able to avoid this tragedy under the same circumstances?
I don't believe that the problem was the ship, or elusive currents, or any other alibi that the ship's officers may advance in an attempt to save their own hides. Rather, I believe that the problem rests with officers on watch who were not paying adequate attention to the safe navigation of the vessel as it approached and entered restricted waters. As a result, the ship ended up where it should not have been -- on a reef that was plainly visible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
You also have to ask about the captain's actions more than the ship itself. Currents aren't like the wind, changing at any given moment.
When did he see the reef which he tried to avoid and couldn't. Do currents change so much that he didn't know how to avoid it? If so, why haven't other ships hit this reef?

Why did it take 1/2 hour for outside authorities to raise him on the radio to assist in rescue efforts?
All of these are legitimate questions. In fact, they beg the question of whether the watch officer was even on the navigation bridge -- which is where he belongs whenever the vessel is underway. If the officer on watch needs to leave the bridge or any reason (to make a head call, for example), he should be properly relieved by another qualified watch officer before tending to such a need.

But the lines that sail among the Greek Islands never were known for their attention to safety....

Norm.
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