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Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Accident, January 13 2012

Updated on July 12, 2014


This hub has been updated with the results of a trial held in July 2013.

 Costa Concordia Cruise Ship, owned by Carnival Cruise Line. A fantasy vacation
Costa Concordia Cruise Ship, owned by Carnival Cruise Line. A fantasy vacation | Source
Reality of the vacation
Reality of the vacation | Source

Vacation of a Lifetime by awordlover

Going on a cruise is supposed to be fun, and for the most part, many people travel on cruise ships without incident and have a wonderful time. Once you go on a cruise, as long as you had a positive experience, you are more than likely to repeat the adventure to many locations.

I have been on approximately 10 cruises, to all different locations and most of them on different cruise lines. Depending on your accommodations and the type of package you book, your cruise experience can be anything from just okay to absolutely fantastic. As for cruise lines, everyone who has ever been on a cruise has a favorite for one reason or another - their accommodations, the staff, the food, the ports of call, convenience of departure points, size of ship....the list goes on and on.

On January 13, 2012, the 4,500 passengers aboard the Costa Concordia who left the Civitavecchi port in Italy probably never dreamt that an accident of this magnitude could happen to them.

After all, they were traveling in good weather on a well-staffed, comfortably booked cruise ship. The forecast was all good, the itinerary was going to be exciting, the food was a highlight of any cruise line. Passengers all had different reasons for celebration to be on this cruise - high school students from Raleigh NC, another larger group from Winston-Salem, NC, couples celebrating an anniversary, honeymooning coupons, retirement, birthday, College break, sightseeing in a country other than their own, and just for fun.

For 11 people (as of January 17, 2012) it was the last cruise of their life.

Itinerary for Costa Concordia January 13, 2012

Departure Port
Arrival Time
Departure Time
Friday, January 13, 2012
7 PM
Saturday, January 14, 2012
8 AM
5 PM
Sunday, January 15, 2012
8 AM
6 PM
Monday, January 16, 2012
8 AM
6 PM
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Palma De Mallorca
8 AM
3 PM
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
12 PM
6 PM
Thursday, January 19, 2012
8 AM
2 PM
Friday, January 20, 2012
8 AM
Panic trying to get to the lifeboats
Panic trying to get to the lifeboats | Source
Costa Concordia listing on its side
Costa Concordia listing on its side | Source

Speculation vs. Reality

Imagine that you have just been served your first course dinner meal in the magnificent two story dining room, the wine steward has poured the wine and the guests at your table propose a toast. All of a sudden, a loud scraping noise is heard, the ship jolts a bit, and the wine glasses, silverware and elegant plates of delicious looking food all slide from the table, some even crashing to the floor from the upper level of the dining room, from the impact of what you may have thought was the anchor dropping. The lights dim and come back on, over and over. The waiter nonchalantly picks it all up from the floor and explains there is an electrical problem. Some passengers at your table start to talk about memories of the Titanic disaster, which makes you all the more nervous.

Earlier during excursion signups, you were told there would be photograph opportunities as the ship went by the small town of Giglio. Some passengers assumed the ship was dropping anchor to disembark. Elsewhere on the ship, passengers saw overturned trash cans and by now, the noise level has escalated greatly. Passengers are beginning to panic, no verbal direction is coming from the captain or crew, and the ship is taking on water from the huge hole in the hull.

Among the chaos, everyone wants to get in a lifeboat and no order has been given to drop them in the water. Passengers with video cameras and cellphone cameras capture as much as they can amid the rushing frantic people, trying to keep their family members together. Most people have lifejackets on and are milling from inside the ship to the deck in an effort to secure a place on a lifeboat. There were adequate numbers of lifeboats but not all are ready to be dropped to the water. Some are so well secured it takes several stewards to release them. Evacuation drills were supposed to be held the next morning, according to the ship's schedule. By now, normal evacuation had become impossible due to the ship listing so quickly and the panic of the passengers. In the disorganization of evacuation, some passengers decided to jump overboard.

Aerial view
Aerial view | Source
Passengers arrive on shore in lifevests and blankets
Passengers arrive on shore in lifevests and blankets | Source
Captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, 52 year old Francesco Schettino. He worked for the cruise line since 2002, and was promoted to captain in 2006.
Captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, 52 year old Francesco Schettino. He worked for the cruise line since 2002, and was promoted to captain in 2006. | Source

Later, some passenger statements tell that the ship’s captain and crew were slow to evacuate the ship, which created panic throughout the boat as it began to lean sideways in the water, upending its decks. Some stated the captain was eating with passengers when the ship crashed into the reef. Other passengers stated that the captain was on the bridge. Still others said he tried to steer the ship to shallow water to make it easier for passengers to make it easier to get to shore in the lifeboats. Several passengers said the captain was nowhere to be found. It will be interesting to hear the truth of this when it comes out.

Passengers later learned that the ship struck a huge rock or reef near the coast of Tuscany and the hole in the hull was at least 150 feet wide. Water poured into the ship, destroying belongings and sweeping people toward exits. Many had remembered to grab a lifejacket from their stateroom and even in their panic, many left behind all their belongings. Getting to safety was paramount, their belongings could be replaced.

Due to the huge gash in the hull, the boat was listing so severely by the time the crew lowered the lifeboats that people were jumping off the ship in the dark into the cold water below. A number of private boats and coast guard helicopters were en route to the scene only to see a cruise ship more than half submerged and people making a human chain on the top (which was the side) of the ship in order to safely get from water to shore.

The coast guard said that three hours after leaving Civitavecchia, about 10:30PM the first alarm sounded on the ship. However, no SOS had been sent until several hours later, When it was all said and done, more than 30 people were injured, six were dead and the captain had been arrested for manslaughter. Gossip that he abandoned the ship before the first lifeboat had dropped has not been proven. Other gossip that he wanted to get the ship close enough to Giglio for a crew member to salute his father on shore also have not been proven. Within the next few months, more truths of the human error behind this awful accident will come to light.

But it is too late for the 11 people who have died in this senseless accident.

UPDATE: New January 17, 2012 12Noon EST - Death toll up to 11 people. Captain is charged with 7 counts of manslaughter, which will be amended in the next few days. It has now become clear that the captain had abandoned his ship, leaving all passengers behind. Via Audio recordings released today by The Port Authority, a friend to the captain employed by Port Authority is heard on the recording telling the captain that he had been with him through other problems, that he had to go back and the captain was pleading, "please, please!" He was asking his friend on the Port Authority to help him to shore and his friend is clearly heard telling him "You have to go back. You can't leave the ship. Go back."

This shows just the sheer size of this ship compared to the search boat. Amazing how it even floats!
This shows just the sheer size of this ship compared to the search boat. Amazing how it even floats! | Source
It is amazing the size of the rock jutting from the ship that could bring this ship to ruin.
It is amazing the size of the rock jutting from the ship that could bring this ship to ruin.
The Wreck of the Costa Concordia. Residents of Giglio said they had never seen a cruise ship come so close to the reef.
The Wreck of the Costa Concordia. Residents of Giglio said they had never seen a cruise ship come so close to the reef. | Source
Rescue Boat and Helicopter approach the wreck.
Rescue Boat and Helicopter approach the wreck.
Searching for survivors
Searching for survivors | Source
Losing hope of finding any more survivors
Losing hope of finding any more survivors | Source
Another view of ship on its side
Another view of ship on its side | Source

To top it all off, it was Friday the 13th. I wonder if the captain or any of the crew had an premonitions of the date or the voyage. At the end of the day, Captain Francesco Schettino, after being questioned, arrested him for manslaughter, for abandoning the ship before the passengers, and for causing a shipwreck. That last one was a no-brainer, I thought. It will be interesting to see how many of those charges they can prove and that he is actually charged with in court.

The days immediately following, divers have been searching for two dozen or more people still missing.

The captain is facing up to 12 years in jail.
The captain is facing up to 12 years in jail. | Source

What do you think? Would you cruise again?

If you had been on a cruise that had an experience like this, would you ever go on a cruise again?

See results

Do not copy. It is not free to copy just because it is on the internet.

This means don't copy this article.
This means don't copy this article. | Source

Schettino is being held until next week when a judge will decide his fate - to formally arrest him or release him. If he is convicted, the maximum is 12 years in jail.

UPDATE: January 18, 2012 - 12Noon EST - The news wires are reporting that Schettino has been charged with manslaughter, abandoning his ship (evidenced in audio recordings by Port Authority) and other charges. He has been fired by the cruise line.

Published January 17, 2012 by awordlover.

Update 6/3/2014

In a CNN report on July 21, 2013, five people were convicted of multiple manslaughter and causing personal injury over the deadly wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner -- but only two may serve any prison time under the plea bargain accepted by Judge Pietro Molino.

The cruise ship's captain, Francesco Schettino is being tried separately on charges of multiple manslaughter in the wreck and abandoning ship.

Under the deal, Roberto Ferrarini, Costa Cruises' emergency manager in Genova, was sentenced to two years and 10 months in prison. Ferrarini spoke on the phone and by radio to Schettino the night of the crash between impact and evacuation.

Manrico Giampedroni, hotel director of the Costa Concordia, was given two years and six months. Giampedroni was in communication with Ferrarini on Schettino's behalf that night.

Schettino's first mate Ciro Ambrosio, who was the officer on the bridge and in command of the ship when it went off course, was sentenced to one year and 11 months.

Third officer Silvia Coronica, who was second in command to Ambrosio at the time, received 18 months.

Helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin was sentenced to 20 months.

The three officers were also convicted of causing a shipwreck, or maritime disaster.

In Italy, sentences less than two years do not have to be served in prison except in some cases of homicide, but not in manslaughter.

So. Ferrarini and Giampedroni aren't likely to serve any time in prison, although they do have to exhaust the appeals process first.

Their plea bargains are on condition that all five testify for the prosecution in the trial of Schettino in the Tuscan city of Grosseto, which is nearest the site of the wreck.

Schettino also asked for a plea bargain in exchange for a sentence of three years and five months in prison. The prosecutor is adamantly against it so it probably won't be accepted.

Schettino faces three criminal charges: involuntary manslaughter for the 32 deaths, causing a maritime disaster and causing personal injury to 150 people who were badly hurt in the accident. Some accounts say the sentence is twenty years in prison.

In the meantime, Schettino has a possible deal in place to write and sell a book about this whole disaster. So while he'll cool his heels in jail, he'll be raking in some money too? Bad news.

As of June 3, 2014, his trial is still going on. Here are some links to catch you up on the events.

Schettino's trial could be delayed by a lawyer's strike (6/2/2014)

5/26/2014 - Honeymoon couple testify at Schettino's trial.

11/12/2013 - Testimony - Captain didn't fall into lifeboat; he jumped!

9/16/2013 - Timeline for salvage operation.

9/23/2013 - Judge grants Schettino motion to visit ship to plead his case in court.

© 2012 awordlover


Submit a Comment

  • Taranwanderer profile image


    3 years ago

    Wow..I never knew all these things about that cruise ship. amazing what you learn in the comments - I'll be sure to look for these things when I go on a cruise for the first time.

  • awordlover profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago

    TYVM Peter for your comment. I am also a seasoned cruiser and look for exactly those things and more when I cruise. From what I hear from other reports, your opinion does not stand alone. Thank you for the comment and the follow. :-)

  • Peter Geekie profile image

    Peter Geekie 

    5 years ago from Sittingbourne

    My wife and I have been on many cruises but only once on Costa. The ship was poorly maintained, nice and shiny but everything was painted over. The falls and cables for the lifeboats were painted over and were unlikely to function correctly. The crew and officers were social staff not seamen - really their ships were an accident waiting to happen.

    I have since sailed on Cunard and Royal Car. and find them fine.

    Kind regards Peter.

  • awordlover profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago

    Hi William Peterson. I don't think he was in shock one bit, because he had the wherewithal to call the Port Harbormaster and plead to leave the ship when passengers were still on it. In essence, he wanted to abandon ship and his Portside friend convinced him to stay with his ship. This captain knew he was at fault at the time and was trying to find any way to get off the ship and run. I am sure it will all come out in trial - if and when it ever gets to trial. He is under house arrest, and the story has not had a followup in weeks. TY for your comment.

  • profile image

    William Peterson 

    6 years ago

    i believe the Master would be in shock, perhaps to the point were he would not be aware of his actions after striking the reef.

    as far as that rock or reef not being on the charts, no way not in this century, and not in this busy coastal area.

  • awordlover profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago

    Hi Carole, I agree. I couldn't believe the audio tapes when I heard them. As I thought, this story has all but disappeared from the news coverage. Nary a mention. But if and when he is sentenced, I will update this page. TYVM for stopping by. :-)

  • profile image

    Carole J. Paul 

    6 years ago

    I served in the Navy Reserves and one of the first rules is stay with your ship! If nothing else he is guilty big time on that alone!

  • awordlover profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago

    hoteltravel, I agree with you. Since this has "blown over" it is not in our news much here in the USA. When I searched for updated information as to the charges against the Captain, there are mere blurbs about the charges and nothing about prosecution. Yet. I will be vigilant. :: smile:: TYVM for your comments.

  • hoteltravel profile image


    6 years ago from Thailand

    This is just unbelievably sad. With help so close at hand, how come so many died? The Captain's behavior and explanation for leaving the ship is deplorable beyond words.

  • awordlover profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago

    LadyLyell, thank you for stopping by and for your comment. I too cannot imagine what these people must have been going through physically and mentally, especially when they made a human chain to walk across the upturned ship to make it to shore when lifeboats were not dropped for them. What is even more amazing to me are the audio recordings released last night of the captain speaking to his friend on the port authority begging to be taken ashore,leaving behind all those crew and passengers. Unbelievable does not even begin to describe this event.

    TYVM again and I hope you will visit my other hubs when you have the time. :-)

  • LadyLyell profile image


    6 years ago from George, South Africa

    I never would have believed that I'd be reading such an account in our day and age."Unbelievable" is the word on everyone's tongue and it is! I have been on two cruises and felt absolutely safe convinced that since the Titanic sinking it COULD NEVER happen again. Ironically, I am reading a book on the "Titanic" right now.

    I would be loathed to say I can imagine the trauma those passengers endured.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge of the tradgedy with hubpage readers especially me.

  • awordlover profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago

    Thank you for stopping by to leave your comment, Zainnisar. I've never been in a shipwreck, but have been in a plane crash in 1973. It took 14 years for me to get on a plane again, but I did do it. I look forward to more of your visits to my hubs. TYVM :-)

  • Zainnisar profile image


    6 years ago from Little Island, Heart.

    Its scary and I have personally never jumped in the sea before so I do feel scared due to that incident but still looking forward for a cruise it will be fun only if reach its destination.


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