On Wednesday, when the officers on watch onboard Carnival Ecstasy noticed what looked like a submerged bouy directly in their track, they took immediate action to avoid collision as the ship returned to Galveston after another successful Caribbean cruise.

The degree of the turn needed to correct the vessels course, however, was such that the ship listed 12 degrees, according to a statement by Carnival Cruise Line. Sixty people suffered minor injuries during the turn and subsequent list.  Minor damage was incurred by the ship as a result of merchandise or unbolted objects, like chairs, that slid across decks and interior spaces.

However, a quick glance at today’s news articles shows just how exaggerated the stories have become. The headlines include attention-grabbers like “terror” and “nightmare” and “battered.”  Passengers interviewed by various news outlets give their take on the situation – lasting everywhere from “a few seconds” to “ten minutes” and tipping “a little” to “I thought we were going to die.”

It is fascinating, though, how passengers will immediately gravitate to a worst-case-scenario approach during an unforseen blip in their cruise.  On a cruise on the Golden Princess a few years back, the ship lost power and propulsion due to a tripped breaker, and we floated in the Pacific for an hour or two.  Dinner was still served, and the casino was still operating, yet one of our dinner companions said “Oh my lord, this is just like the Titanic.”


I never knew the Titanic lost power on its way to Cabo San Lucas – I always thought it hit an iceberg in the Atlantic.

No one does this on airplanes – if you encounter rough turbulence or have to perform a go-around, the passengers don’t murmur to themselves how this is “exactly like the Hindenburg.”

The fact is, as marvelous and well built as today’s cruise ships are, they are still machines, and are still required to avoid objects in their path. The decision for the Captain of the Carnival Ecstasy to perform a quick course correction was no doubt done with the interests of the safety of the vessel and her passengers and crew, and it is fortunate that the injuries suffered onboard were minor in nature.

This is most critical for travelers planning or embarking on their first cruise: this doesn’t usually happen, but it can.  You can also be struck by lightning after winning the lottery, but neither of those are terribly likely either.  Which is why it’s so disheartening to see members of the larger media outlets jump on this “could have been a catastrophe” bandwagon.

For the first time cruiser, go forth without fear: you have nothing to worry about.


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