Prepping for a cruise ship disaster

Since the 100-year anniversary of the Titanic sinking was just last week, there’s been a lot of news lately about shipwrecks, rogue waves, upendings, fires in the engine room, hull penetrations, cattle dying – you name it, we’ve seen way too much of it in the news lately!  Here are some of the worst  cruise ship disasters in history.  (Click the topics for further information.)

The sinking of the RMS Titanic, as painted by ...

The sinking of the RMS Titanic, as painted by Willy Stöwer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Titanic sinks in April 1912.

The S. S. Eastland kills 800 people when it tips over and sinks.

Seabourn Spirits was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2005

Carnival Splendor’s engine room fire completely disables ship, leaving it dead in the water

and an even more recent one, the engine-room fire on the Allure of the Seas

and of course, no one can forget the latest really deadly disaster:

The Costa Concordia sinks, killing 32

So, I suppose you are wondering what all this news has to do with you, the prepper!  After all, your concerns involve having enough food to eat, how to keep the grid up around your home, and how to keep your food cold, your feet warm, and your guns and ammunition at hand.  What does cruising have to do with you?

Well, maybe not all that much.  If you’re anything like me, you don’t hang around the casino, you don’t drink much – if at all – the late-night revelry leaves you cold, and you’re not big on bingo….

But people aren’t one-dimensional.  Preppers, just like everyone else, are multi-faceted people.  They not only are interested in prepping, they are also interested in hiking, skating, travel, fishing, swimming…and sometimes, they just like sitting back and watching the world go by.  I’ll have to admit, that’s one of my favorites – watching the cruise ship wake!  So, I’ll admit it:  I’m a cruiser.  I took my first cruise at the age of ten, and I’ve been at it hard ever since.  And, in fact, I love cruising so much, I wrote a book about it!   But I’ll have to admit: until the latest cruise ship disaster, I hadn’t really thought all that much about cruise ship safety.  The recent spate of disasters and death have got me thinking, though:  what would I do if I had been on the Concordia?

It’s true that many of the passengers on the Concordia hadn’t been to their muster drill yet, so perhaps they didn’t know where to meet in case of trouble.  It’s unlikely, though, that information would be hard to find.  Normally, it’s printed on the sailing card, and it’s always noted inside the cabin door.  So, no, I don’t think lack of information was the problem, and to verify that, we have the video of many passengers milling around the muster stations.  I think the problem was the well-documented phenomenon that people tend to freeze when confronted with an unexpected, especially a very frightening, scenario, particularly one they haven’t already practiced.  From the paper “Why People ‘Freeze’ in an Emergency: Temporal and Cognitive Constraints on Survival Responses” by John Leach of  the Department of Psychology, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, UK.


It was found that ‘freezing behavior was a frequently cited response by witnesses to a disaster. ‘Freezing’ causes evacuation delays which increase the danger, establishing a closed loop process and further extending evacuation delays.  This behavior can be accounted for by considering the temporal constraints on cognitive information processing in a rapidly unfolding, real-time environment.


Cognitive limitations help to explain why survival training works and why there is a need for survival culture to be devloped.  They also highlight the need to understand the behavior of children under threat as being different from that of adults due to the different stages of their neurological and cognitive development.  There are implications for the devlopment of proactive, rather than passive, life support equipment.


So, there you have it, folks….what you have just read is a very fancy way of saying:  “practice makes perfect.”  People who have considered the risks and run through the various scenarios, even just in their minds, will be much more likely to survive a cruise ship disaster than those who don’t even know where their life jackets are.  I believe, and this opinion is corroborated by the excellent  Nova: Why Ships Sink recently released on PBS, that not only the cruisers, but the crew and to an extent even the officers, of the Costa Concordia, were suffering from this phenomenon.

This is where being a prepper comes in handy.  Because if you’re a real prepper (and I consider myself much more so than I used to be) you will consider all the alternatives, both good and bad, before you ever set foot on that teak deck.

When you get right down to it, the people who survive a cruise ship disaster are really not going to be much different than the people we all want to be when we are ashore:  people who survive.  We will accomplish this by very carefully considering all the things that could happen, and planning in our minds how we will address each challenge.  Even if the plan is a bit faulty, a faulty plan is much better than no plan at all!


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One Response to Prepping for a cruise ship disaster

  1. Diego says:

    I agree with this. A great number of casualties during accidents can be avoided if people know what to do in case disaster strikes.

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