WITH rest and relaxation the ultimate goals of most holidaymakers, a scenic cruise makes an obvious choice for a break – but they can quickly turn to terror on the high seas.
Catastrophes ranging in scale and scope have plagued cruise ships for decades, sometimes leaving passengers dead, injured, or with lifelong trauma.
The wreckage of the ill-fated Costa Concordia vessel in GenoaCredit: ANSA
An aerial view shows the Costa Concordia as it lies on its side next to Giglio IslandCredit: Reuters
Cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of GiglioCredit: Getty Images – Getty
A P&O cruise ship crashed into an oil tanker amid extreme storms and gale-force winds
A cruise ship worker cleans a railing on the Grand Princess in March, 2020, off the California coast during the beginning of the Covid pandemicCredit: AP
Thirty-two people lost their lives in a single cruise disaster off the coast of an Italian island in 2012, when the Costa Concordia sailed too close to shore, smashed into rocks, and capsized.
Many others were seriously injured in the tragedy.
It was the culmination of a series of human errors, with some speculating the ship’s married captain Francesco Schettino steered his luxury liner too close to an island in an attempt to impress his much younger dancer girlfriend.
The Italian courts found Schettino, four crew members, and one company official were at fault for causing the disaster and preventing a safe evacuation.
Recovery efforts were the most expensive of any maritime wreck in, costing an estimated £1.2 billion.
CHLOE WIEGAND TRAGEDY
Another example of cruising calamity which struck a chord in theof people across the world took place in July 2019 and involved the untimely death of an 18-month-old girl.
The child’s grandfather, Salvatore Anello, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter after he placed her on an 11th floor window ledge of a Freedom of the Seas ship he believed was secured by a piece of glass.
Little Chloe Wiegand fell through an opening and plunged 150 feet to her death.
The toddler’s family were reportedly so distraught following the tragedy they had to be sedated by medics.
Anello was sentenced by ain San Juan, Puerto Rico to three years’ probation, which his attorney said he would serve in his home state of Indiana.
History tells us pirates also pose a threat to passengers of luxury liners, with seafaring criminals going so far as to use automatic weapons and grenades to gain access to ships and carry out thefts.
The infamous Seabourn Spirit was attacked in 2005 by two pirate speedboats launched from a mothership off the coast of Somalia.
Thugs menaced 300 crew and passengers on board with volleys of machine gun fire and RPGs, seriously injuring the ship’s master of arms Som Bahadur Gurung.
Security officer at the time Michael Groves told the BBC: “I saw a spray of blood and he just went straight down.”
“I thought he was gone but he opened one eye. He looked like half his head had been blown off.”
Fortunately, the ship outran the pirates and changed its course.
In 2009, passengers aboard cruise ship MSC Melody threw tables and deck chairs at Somali pirates who tried to board off the coast of the Seychelles before the vessel’s security forces arrived with pistols.
FLOATING COVID COLONY
Within the confines of cruise ships’ metal walls, infectious disease outbreaks are perhaps the most likely danger to vacationers.
This became especially clear in 2020, when Covid-19 spread like wildfire on ships, killing passengers.
US-based travel company Carnival Cruise Lines reportedly saw 1500 positive diagnoses and 39 deaths on its ships by April, 2020.
Many others lost their lives and fell ill with the virus while on cruise ships, including on a Holland America vessel, where four passengers died, and a Majestic Princess cruise ship, which last year docked in Sydney, Australia with 800 Covid-19 cases.
But the tragic effects of the contagion extended far beyond those who contracted the virus, with one cruise ship doctor becoming so anxious about its spread he hanged himself in his cabin.
Earlier this year, hundreds of passengers and crew members became sick while aboard a Princess Cruises ship, reporting symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea.
The company said the sickness was likely caused by norovirus, a very contagious virus colloquially known as the ‘cruise ship virus’.
More than 400 people on a Celebrity Cruise out of South California were struck with a “gastrointestinal illness” from norovirus in 2010.
Meanwhile, British holidaymakers were left screaming and in tears after their ritish holidaymakers were left screaming off the coast of Majorca over the weekend.
The Britannia reportedly snapped its moorings and was blown toward the second vessel on Sunday morning amid heavy rain and 75mph hurricane-strength winds.
P&O said a small number of people suffered minor injuries, and a lifeboat was damaged and could not be repaired onboard.
One family on the £473-million ship said passengers heard a loud bang and saw debris floating in the water before the captain told them “this is not a drill” and advised them to remain in their cabins.
Some 32 people lost their lives in the disaster on the Costa ConcordiaCredit: AP
The luxury vessel was carrying 4,252 people when it smashed into rocks and sunk
The entertainment room where cruise passengers would have enjoyed performances
Passengers on board the P&O cruise were left in tears following the smashCredit: Media Wales
Toddler Chloe Wiegand was reported to have slipped from her grandfather Salvatore Anello’s grip, falling 150 feet to her death on a cruise ship docked in Puerto RicoCredit: Enterprise News and Pictures
US salvage company Titan and Italian firm Micoperi inspecting the wreck of Italy’s Costa ConcordiaCredit: AFP