Could a Titanic type tragedy happen with modern cruise ships?

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#1
379 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
This is just one of those what if postings. I thought about it during the muster drill on the Oosterdam. I'm sure everyone knows how crowded it is around the staircases at the beginning and end of the drills and I have trouble believing people would be able to locate their lifeboat stations even after participating in the drill. I also think there would be panic and chaos because its just human nature. And what about all those people on CopperJohns cruise that tripped on the life jacket strings? Could you imagine if it was real?

On the travel channel they did a cruise documentary to Alaska that featured one of Royal Caribbean's ships, I forgot which one. It was sailing out of Vancouver and they had their drill the day after sail away. I thought what if the ship sank that first night? Maybe its just in the U.S. that they require it to be done immediately.

What would you all do during a disaster? Do you think you can manage to get off the ship without incident? Or do you see yourselves setting off on your own like Jack n Rose? Or would you rather just sit there and wait for the ship to magically restore itself like the Poseidon's passengers chose? There have been a number of documented disasters such as the Andrea Doria where a certain number of the lifeboats were useless....and modern ships don't seem to have any back up plans if this were to be the case. Does that mean we'd be back to women and children first?
#2
New Zealand
1,561 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Well CD my chief concern is the fact that the cruise lines are pushing and considering taking super liners down to the Antartic, I can see that as a disaster waiting to happen, there is no way a ship with say 3500 people could be rescued. There are enough minor disasters down there now, the thought of a super line in trouble is totally mind boggling.
#3
379 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
I thought about that in Glacier Bay when the Park Ranger told us that the water is so cold you'd be instantly paralyzed. In a panic, people would probably fall over or start pushing/shoving causing other people to fall over. And can you imagine if it was at night without a moon? There was no moon for my Mexico trip and it was pitch black! Even with a fast response from planes, helicopters, coast guard cutters and other cruise ships, I still think there would be casualties.

Also, landslides large enough to cause tsunamis have occured in Alaska which would be devastating if a ship was cornered in a place like Glacier Bay.
#4
Naples, FL
2,895 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
The short answer is, yes it is possible for a catastrophy equal to or greater than the Titanic to happen. But it is so unlikely to happen that I'm not going to worry about it. The odds are probably about the same as one particular town in California being destroyed by an earthquake on any given day, or my home being swallowed by a Florida sinkhole.

If you check the statistics, you're probably safer on the cruise ship than you are driving to and from work. So, if you want to stay alive... book a cruise.
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#5
379 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
This thread isn't about worrying or causing anyone to worry. It was the furthest thing from my mind anytime I've sailed and I only thought about it during relevant activities like the muster drill and park ranger talk.

Just like with the design your own ship thread, I'm just making conversation which a lot of us like to do in here. Read the very first sentence I wrote.
#6
2,826 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
The visable lifeboats that we are all familiar with are not the only lifeboats on board. There are numerous "lifeboats in a can" or actually lifeboats that are the inflatable type that are stored on decks in large metal canisters. Therefore, in a real emergency, there are lifeboats on board to take over for those big comfortable ones that may not be accessable. But then again, most disasters are unpredictable, and most disasters result in compensation in case it happens again.
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#7
Mysitc, CT
1,366 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Originally posted by mechcc
The visable lifeboats that we are all familiar with are not the only lifeboats on board. There are numerous "lifeboats in a can" or actually lifeboats that are the inflatable type that are stored on decks in large metal canisters. Therefore, in a real emergency, there are lifeboats on board to take over for those big comfortable ones that may not be accessable. But then again, most disasters are unpredictable, and most disasters result in compensation in case it happens again.
Those "cans" contain 25 man inflatable rafts that will self inflate and return to the surface if a ship were to sink. They are there for the crew. They are identical to those we carry on navy ships. There is more chance of being hit by lightening than a ship striking an iceburg.
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#8
379 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
What is with everyone tonight....nobody is talking about a friggin iceberg!!

Sheesh....

There are numerous things that can happen: fires, terrorism, running aground, being rammed by another ship, alien invasion....but this is all beside the point. The title of this thread is not "what would happen if a modern cruiseship hit an iceberg?". The idea behind this thread is do you believe a modern cruiseship could be evacuated without any panic, trampling injuries or fatalities of any kind regardless of the circumstances???

Chivalrygirl is right on the money because she brings up the point of being out at sea in an isolated part of the world which might trump any modern day advantages we have gained since the Titanic disaster 95 years ago.
#9
Holmdel, NJ US
10,722 Posts
Joined Mar 2000
Originally posted by Grumpy1
The odds are probably about the same as my home being swallowed by a Florida sinkhole.
With your newfound HOA responsibilities this year, this might even be on your agenda.
#10
Melbourne, Australia
10,633 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by constructiondude
What is with everyone tonight....nobody is talking about a friggin iceberg!!

Chivalrygirl is right on the money because she brings up the point of being out at sea in an isolated part of the world which might trump any modern day advantages we have gained since the Titanic disaster 95 years ago.
We did think about this type of accident at sea last year when we were on our way down to Antarctica in a Force 11 gale with no ships, helicoptors etc. near us. My DH said to me "Well we are on our own now and if anything happens to us there is no-one around to come to our aid"

This was so true, as we were miles from anywhere. Most of us board a ship and don't worry about what could happen to us which is just as well as it could ruin a good vacation. A fire on board ship is my greatest worry and if I smell smoke I do panic.

Jennie
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#11
Sunny Sequim, Washington state
5,864 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Originally posted by constructiondude
What is with everyone tonight....nobody is talking about a friggin iceberg!!



.......
Dude:

Your question says "Titanic type tragedy". The Titanic hit an iceberg, therefore the iceberg connection.

And yes, tragedy both can and does strike anytime, anywhere, in all kinds of conditions, whether we are at peace or at war, travelling by ship, plane, or car, or even just at home.......and despite our technology, nature is a powerful force beyond our total control.....as we all realize.
#12
11,051 Posts
Joined Apr 2004
Since I have no intention of sailing to Anartica or even Alaska in the near future, I'm not gonna worry about the iceberg connection.

My real fear aboard a cruise ship is terrorism. I firmly believe that the next attack against the U.S. is not gonna be via an airplane, but rather involve a ship. What better target, from a terrorist's standpoint, than one of the large cruise ship terminals ... on a weekend ... when there are five or six ships doing a turnaround. A couple of truckloads of explosives and the loss of human life would be catastrophic. And, the ships wouldn't even be out to sea ... the disaster would play out right at the dock.

This is my big fear with cruising ... and I don't start to breathe easier until we have pulled safely away from the dock.

Blue skies ...

--rita
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#13
Orange County, California
75 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
I have wondered about the whole panic/confusion/crush of people sort of thing in a fire, explosion or something catastrophic like that on a ship.

When I was a teenager I went to a concert and people were upset about having to wait so long to get in, that by the time the doors did open, everyone began pushing and shoving. In the crush of people I was pushed so hard against a glass partition that I thought I would either suffocate or crash through the glass. It was a very frightening experience. I don't like being in crowds to this day.

I guess it's something that I don't like to think about, but I do hope that the cruise line have thought of different crisis senarios and planned accordingly.
#14
Mysitc, CT
1,366 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
As far as modern goes, maybe we sould be looking more at the Andrea Doria instead of Titantic. That ship managed to evacuate and the only loss of life happened in the collision. 1660 people were rescued and 46 died.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Andrea_Doria
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#15
785 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
Hello cd and all. I’ll weigh in on this one. Anything can “happen” that could cause an evacuation as mentioned, but he seems to be wondering about peoples behaviors during an emergency. Bottom line is there will be an array of behaviors. As you see from the drills, there are knuckleheads who don’t listen, that would be one type of response. Depending on the gravity of the situation, there will be some panicking perhaps jumping etc., and also those behaving in what’s know as “stress response” in that they would be disregarding others to save their own ass. The majority would be obedient, and there would be some heroes too. No one really knows how one would react until placed in the real situation. Well, that’s my babble, but I would start to worry it you hear the captain yell out “Ramming speed!!”
Mark….
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#16
Yardley, PA
1,183 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
As I understand it, most of the loss of life on Titanic was due to an insufficient number of lifeboats and lack of an emergency plan. Both of these issues are addressed on modern cruise ships. Could something catastrophic happen despite these measures? Sure, but the chances of massive loss of life are much less. I agree that the biggest threat (and my greatest fear) is terrorism. I think about it every time I board a ship and notice how lax the screening is when compared to boarding a airplane.

- Steve
#17
Upstate NY
161 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
We are leaving on the 2/28 sailing of the Noordam, my DH, and two other couples. My husbands best friend (Chris) since 4th grade and his wife are joining us along with a another couple. We have had to talk Chris down a couple times due to his anxiety about the upcoming cruise. We are packing brown paper bags for him. Instead of worring about sinking he is worried about BIRD FLU. So don't anyone on the this sailing yell BIRD FLU. Thank you.
#18
693 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by constructiondude
This is just one of those what if postings. I thought about it during the muster drill on the Oosterdam. I'm sure everyone knows how crowded it is around the staircases at the beginning and end of the drills and I have trouble believing people would be able to locate their lifeboat stations even after participating in the drill. I also think there would be panic and chaos because its just human nature. And what about all those people on CopperJohns cruise that tripped on the life jacket strings? Could you imagine if it was real?

On the travel channel they did a cruise documentary to Alaska that featured one of Royal Caribbean's ships, I forgot which one. It was sailing out of Vancouver and they had their drill the day after sail away. I thought what if the ship sank that first night? Maybe its just in the U.S. that they require it to be done immediately.

What would you all do during a disaster? Do you think you can manage to get off the ship without incident? Or do you see yourselves setting off on your own like Jack n Rose? Or would you rather just sit there and wait for the ship to magically restore itself like the Poseidon's passengers chose? There have been a number of documented disasters such as the Andrea Doria where a certain number of the lifeboats were useless....and modern ships don't seem to have any back up plans if this were to be the case. Does that mean we'd be back to women and children first?

Constructiondude, The simple answer is yes it could happen! However modern ships are much better equipped and crews trained that those of old. As a result of the Titanic disaster the first international conventions concerning safety of life at sea were created. These have been continuously updated as new knowledge and technology becomes available. For example Titanic did not have enough lifeboats for all its passengers and crew whereas modern ships must have, IIRC, 125% more capacity in their lifeboats and rafts than there are people on board. Also ships are inspected several times a year by organizations such as the US Coastguard and the equivalent to ensure that the safety equipment is working.

I read on a website, not sure whose site but something I found when I Googled the subject, that its estimated that about 30% of passengers would do NOTHING, ala Poseidon, if the alarms sounded. Also that in an abandon ship situation a 10-20% fatality rate would be considered "acceptable". However that said it also mentioned 2 recent incidents, the Achille Lauro and the infamous Oceanus where the ships were evacuated at sea with no casualties.

As for Royal Caribbean holding a drill the day after the ship sailed may I ask if this was a full drill shown on the documentary? All ships are required by International Law to hold a drill before sailing after embarking the passengers. What may have been shown could have been a limited drill for passengers who embarked late or missed the main drill. I know that on HAL if you are recorded as missing the drill you get a letter "inviting" you to a drill the next day (not through personal experience though!).
#19
san diego
3,163 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Panic can and will happen any time there is potential for death and disaster. On cruise ships the best deterrent is a well-trained,level headed crew who know just what to do in an emergency. And that is exactly why drills for the crew are a constant practice. All modern cruise ships have many compartments and water tight doors which hopefully would limit the amount of water coming in to the hull.
The worst potential for disaster is fire on board; yes, some may die from smoke inhalation, but the majority would survive because fire can often be retained in areas by use of sprinklers and other firefighting equipment. But when one considers the thousands of passengers on cruise ships on any one day, and the actual occurences, the statistics show you are in less danger on a cruise ship than on the highway.
As for lifeboat muster, although most ships do that before the ship actually departs, they are required to do it in the first 24 hours. And as for passengers tripping on cords from life jackets, they do that because they do not listen during muster when you are told to be very careful about not letting the tapes drag causing you to trip. Too many passengers treat muster as a party before the sail away party, and nothing is going to change that unfortunately.
Again IMHO the best deterrent to panic is a trained levelheaded crew who know exactly what to do and where to go in an emergency.
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#20
Space Coast FL
25,006 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
Originally posted by constructiondude
The idea behind this thread is do you believe a modern cruiseship could be evacuated without any panic, trampling injuries or fatalities of any kind regardless of the circumstances?
Not on a HAL ship: you're almost guaranteed at least one fatal heart attack!
Originally posted by bishop84
As for Royal Caribbean holding a drill the day after the ship sailed may I ask if this was a full drill shown on the documentary? What may have been shown could have been a limited drill for passengers who embarked late or missed the main drill.
Or maybe it was something staged strictly for the camera, rather than film the real one?
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