Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Savages of the Seas

My wife and I have been on several cruises together and have always enjoyed the experience, so you can imagine the ridicule I subjected a friend to after he vowed never to take one. His reasoning? He believes them to be floating vessels of anarchy exempt from the societal laws and norms that govern acceptable human behavior. “There’s no law!” he would insist, attributing the inevitable chaos to the legal ambiguity concerning international waters. Well David, I sincerely apologize as your fears were anything but baseless.

Apparently, the ironically christened Carnival Triumph was about 150 miles from the Yucatan Peninsula when a fire broke out in the engine room leaving the 102-ton vessel and its 3,143 passengers dead in the water. Without power and running water, those aboard were reportedly forced to sleep in tents on the open deck and relieve themselves in bags and buckets. Family members claim to have received texts from loved ones on-board detailing fights over food and water. Eyewitness accounts describe the passengers as “savages” scrounging for basic necessities. One man has been removed for dialysis and all this was just within the first 24 hours.

The ship’s crew has been distributing bottled water and cold food in the immediate aftermath and reports late Monday indicated that the shipboard engineers were able to restore some hot food service and running water. The ship is expected to port in Mexico today where the passengers can be flown home. Carnival has announced that it will issue a full refund (minus casino and gift shop expenditures) to those affected. They will also issue a voucher for a complimentary Carnival cruise at some point in the future. This is the second time a Carnival boat has become disabled due to an onboard fire while in the Gulf of Mexico.

Literally one day without power and it sounds like Lord of the Flies out there. One minute you are feasting on escargot and sipping champagne, the next thing you know someone is handing you a warm bologna sandwich while the guy next to you pinches one off in an ice bucket. I shudder to think what would have happened if they had not been able to partially restore a buffet and sewage system. The situation was deteriorating so rapidly it sounds as if passengers were a sunset away from cannibalism.

By the time she hits port, the boat will be full of haggard barbarians whose necklaces will be adorned by the sun-bleached bones of the innocent. The captain has probably re-purposed the shuffleboard court for hourly human sacrifices to the dark master. Passengers will really know to panic when it is announced that all sodas are “complimentary.”     

Having eaten several meals aboard a similar vessel, I can tell you that the only thing more dangerous than being adrift at sea is being anywhere near the Lido deck when the captain announces that the buffet has been temporarily reopened. I can assure you that the “women and children first” mandate is nothing more than a heartwarming idea. Bob and Becky from Denver may have seemed polite at the formal dinner but I guarantee you that once the chips are down they will not hesitate to take out grandma’s bad hip if it gets them closer to the pesto sauce.

I did appreciate how Carnival specified that their full refund did not cover gambling losses or duty-free souvenirs. I’ll bet that shipboard photographer isn’t so eager to document your memories now. I can just see some poor guy trying to coax a displaced family together for a portrait:

Ma’am, if you and your husband would step over to the right of your bedroll I will try and crop out the urine bags and fecal graffiti. That’s it. Say, “maritime pandemonium!”

Sadly, their first priority was probably to restore power to the casino since they are still in international waters. Although at this point the craps table is probably surrounded by crew members playing Russian roulette a la The Deer Hunter.

Carnival also said they will issue passes for a “free cruise” along with the refund. I don’t know about you, but after spending four days adrift in the gulf while my former table mates fashion shivs from their Sign & Sail pass I am not sure how eager I will be to hop aboard the Carnival Doldrums in the future. Perhaps Carnival should name their ships something less grandiose and more indicative of their offerings like the Carnival Adequate or the Carnival Sufficiently Buoyant.

1 comment:

  1. I just love how Matt was undeterred, and his two responses were 1. it was near the end of their trip and 2. everyone will get their cruise paid for and be given a free cruise. These cruise outfits must have learned mind control from Manson himself.


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