Cruise Ship “Black Box” Found

Like airplanes, cruise ships have “black box” recorders to document exactly what happened in the case of a disaster.

ATHENS, Greece – Investigators using a remote-controlled submarine found a sunken Greek cruise ship’s data recorder and planned to bring it to the surface Friday, authorities said.

The Merchant Marine Ministry said the recorder could reveal details of the sinking of the Sea Diamond, information they hope to use in the prosecution of crew members.

That cruise ships contained such a device was new to us, but perhaps it will shed some light on how a cruise ship could sink in as popular a port as the Greek island of Santorini.

Thanks to Mobissimo Blog.

“The Current Made Me Do It” – Cruise Ship Captain

Sea Diamond SinksThe captain of the sunken cruise ship Sea Diamond, charged with negligence by Greek authorities, is blaming strong currents for the disaster.

“I felt the ship, which had been on a normal course, slip to the right because of sea currents,” NET quoted him as saying. “I gave the order for a full turn left. But there was not enough time for the ship to respond.”

The captain was indicted along with five other crew members on blanket charges of causing a shipwreck through negligence, breaching international shipping safety regulations and polluting the environment, the Cyclade islands public prosecution office said. All have been released pending further testimony.

Whether this argument will hold water remains to be seen. Presumably, cruise ship captains are supposed to be familiar with currents and ensure that they give underwater hazards a wide enough berth. European legal authorities tend to be a bit stricter on personal responsibility issues of this type; in the U.S., we rely more on the civil court system to produce judgments against negligent parties. I’m sure too that the Greek authorities want to reassure the thousands of cruise ship passengers that visit daily that they take these matters very seriously. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in court.

We can expect more bad cruise ship PR when they find the bodies of the two missing passengers. Raising the sunken cruise ship should provide some great photo opps if they decide to resurrect it.

Cruise Ship Passenger: “Cabin Filled With Water”

Santorini is a great cruise destination, known for its steep hill which lets hikers share a narrow road with sometimes unruly donkeys. The excitement reached a whole new level for passengers of the Sea Diamond cruise ship, though:

A Greek cruise ship that struck a volcanic reef and forced the evacuation of hundreds of tourists sank on Friday, 15 hours after it began taking on water off the coast of a Mediterranean island. A Frenchman and his daughter were missing, officials said. (MSNBC)

Passengers had to climb down rope ladders to exit the vessel, and were aided by Greek coast guard and military vessels, as well as fishing boats that make the scenic port their home. The rescue took three hours, and two passengers remain unaccounted for. The outlook for the missing passengers doesn’t sound optimistic:

Tourism Minister Fanny Palli Petralia said she had spoken with the missing passenger’s wife.

“The lady said her cabin filled with water when the ship struck rocks and that she narrowly escaped,” Petralia said. “She was not sure whether her husband and daughter made it out because things happened so suddenly … in a few seconds. Her other child was up on deck and was evacuated safely.”

“Cabin filled with water” is not a phrase you want to use when describing your cruise vacation, and the sinking of a sizable cruise ship is bound to put off some nervous cruisers. It will be interesting to see what the official investigation determines as the cause of the navigation error which caused the ship to hit the reef.

Cargo Ship Cruises

Are you tired of crowded sun decks, 24-hour buffets, health clubs, climbing walls, and staff that cater to your every need? In that case, you might consider skipping your next standard cruise ship and go the cargo ship cruising route instead. Instead of thousands of passengers, you’ll be sharing the ship with thousands of containers. But, for those looking for a low-key voyage without a lot of planned activities, cargo ship cruises may be an interesting option. According to Container ships an off-beat cruising option, what cargo ships lack in amenities they make up for in free time:

For container ship enthusiasts, walking the deck, watching the sea, or tackling crafts and puzzles are entertainment enough. Many tote stacks of books or start writing one of their own: an autobiography or a narrative of their voyage. A few ships have saltwater plunge pools that can be filled for passengers. There’s also visiting the ship’s bridge and talking with the crew, though crew members frequently speak languages different from travelers.

The per-day cost of container ship cruising is lower than conventional cruise ships, but the longer voyages mean the overall trip cost won’t be that cheap. Port time tends to be limited, too, and of course there won’t be cruise staff offering you dozens of optional excursions. Cargo ships often don’t have elevators, and may impose age restrictions due to the lack of on-board medical staff.

A cargo ship cruise could be the ticket, though, if you want to put some quality time in on writing your novel without interruptions from cell phones, co-workers, neighbors, etc.

Cruise Ships Boost Alaska Park Traffic

A 5% increase in visitors to Alaska’s National Parks was driven almost completely by cruise ship traffic, according to Kurt at National Park Traveler.

Most of the cruise ship passenger volume was felt at three parks: Glacier Bay National Park, Sitka National Historical Park and Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Once again, this shows the impact that cruise ships can have on cruise ports and land-based attractions.