Monday, April 18

"DRINKS ARE FREE ALL NIGHT!"

If a cruise ship is in the midst of high seas for nearly 48 hours and is even slammed by a "freak, seven-story-high wave," why would the ship's captain open up the bar to the passengers, offering "free drinks" all night long, rather than effecting comprehensive safety measures for the protection of his crew and passengers? How do tipsy passengers protect themselves and others, or participate in an orderly evacuation or rescue? It is even under investigation whether the ship's captain bothered to send a distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard! A total of 62 cabins were flooded and the bar was open! A muddle-headed pianist was playing the theme song from the movie, "Titantic." It must have been surreal onboard. I don't find it amusing in the least or just some superficial story one reads for a laugh, or with an arched eyebrow.

Fortunately, the only ice encountered was in the cocktails that the "Norwegian Dawn" bartenders were passing out gratis to the terrified passengers. That's the only good news I can fathom in the reports I've read thus far.

No mention in any of the reports whether the Norwegian Cruise Lines' ship had sufficient life boats onboard that all passengers and crew could have been able to abandon ship, had there been a need to do so, or whether such an escape could even have been safely conducted in storm-tossed seas. Recall that the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in calm seas. Would an "abandon ship" order have been severely compromised in a situation in which waves had reached as high as 47 feet?

No mention in any of the reports whether life vests had been issued to all passengers and crew. If not, why not? And were there sufficient life vests? When had the last safety inspection of the ship been conducted and what were the findings?

No mention in any of the reports I have read whether any ships were near enough to the "Norwegian Dawn" that, had the ship been abandoned, a timely rescue operation could have been undertaken to pluck passengers and crew from the angry sea. Were there ships nearby?

What are the "Standard Operating Procedures" (SOPs) in ensuring passenger and crew safety in this type of serious weather-related scenario and were they followed, and if not, why not? Could passengers have negotiated corridors with standing water to get to their assigned "muster stations" had they been so directed? How many passengers onboard were older than, say, 65, and if it was a high percentage would this fact, coupled with a pitching ship in savage seas, have made an evacuation highly problematic?

These would seem pertinent questions, but the MSM, the Associated Press among them, seem to be contenting themselves at this juncture with provocative headlines and titillating accounts, rather than compelling journalism. I, for one, have a greater interest in answers to these questions, than in learning that the cruise line is refunding portions of the passengers' costs for the ill-fated cruise.

Am I wrong here? Haven't you noticed that when anything untoward happens aboard a cruise ship the story almost always has no legs, as if the industry has a way of doing quick damage control and quashing any pertinent revelations?

Maybe the blogosphere will once again do what the MSM has seemingly abandoned -- getting to the heart of the story and what could have been a major disaster at sea.

(Hat Tip: Matt Drudge)