Friday, February 15, 2013

On the Good Ship Hyperbole

This week, the Carnival Cruise Ship Triumph ran into some trouble at sea. Was it a plague? Was it marauding pirates? Did the ship hit a shallow reef?(Costa Concordia)

Nope. Instead there was a fire and a power outage. Don't get me wrong, a ship fire is a very scary thing. Clearly it can wreak havoc upon a ship in unexpected ways and I do not mean to devalue the genuine issues that faced the ship and its passengers.

However, I do take issue with it being referred to as a "nightmare" cruise. It makes me wonder by what standard are we calling this a nightmare? Carnival-Triumph-Cruise-Returns-Sewage-New-Yorkers-on-Ship

I don't think it would take more than as moment to find examples of true maritime "nightmares" from our own past, some not so distant.

On June 15, 1904, the PS General Slocum sank in New York's East River after experiencing a fire. The ship's lack of safety equipment and presence of flammable materials doomed 1,037 out of the 1,358 people on board that day.

On April 27, 1865, the SS Sultana sank in the Mississippi river. It was a steamboat paddlewheeler in the region and tragedy struck when three of the ship's four boiler exploded sending the Sultana to the river bottom. An estimate 1600 people died.


And perhaps most famous of all, the RMS Titanic struck disaster when it could not avoid an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Infamously, 1,532 people died in the freezing waters unnecessarily due to an under-equipped ship and an under-trained crew.

RMS Titanic

Given the tragic disasters and nightmare scenarios that have been experienced in the long history of shipboard travel, I pose the question: Where exactly on the nightmare scale does the Triumph truly rank?

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