The Concordia—a wake up call to entertainers to be more aware and prepare to be more useful than just entertaining if we need to be.

The devastating speed and totality of the sinking of the luxury cruise ship Concordia recently was a shock to many of us who spend a lot of time onboard large cruise ships. It was really only a matter of time before something like this happened but the mind puts these things aside. The recent media on this disaster quickly puts it on the front burner.

It is still to early to sort out a definitive view of what happened that night, but nothing about it is very reassuring. As a veteran who has been working on cruise ships, on and off, since the early seventies I am aware that safety is no small concern with the companies who own and operate these ‘floating cities.’ However, at the very least it has made me realize how cavalier I (and many other entertainers) have become about important little details such as actually knowing exactly where our lifeboats are, let alone actually attending the passenger boat drills that our highly desirable passenger stature demand.

To passengers in general the boat drill is seen as something of a routine formality. Hmmmmm, I guess not. The fact that the Concordia sank so close to land saved many, many lives I suspect. Obviously you have to wonder why it was so very close to land that it happened, especially on a route it covered every week. The chaos that has been described is worrying, to say the least. The magician onboard elledgedly seems to have left his assistant stuck inside a Zig-Zag illusion! I won’t say what I think about that until I hear definitively if it is true or not.  If it is true then shame on him.

However, when disaster strikes, rational thought can jump out the window–or porthole. As a matter of fact, so can rational actions; what good is it rushing to your lifeboat station on the port side of the ship if that side of the ship is raised at a 45 degree angle and the lifeboats won’t lower? This seems to have been the case. What is needed is a very clear understanding of the layout of the vessel and a clear understanding of the situation that is unfolding. The first is easy to undertake and master, the second is a little tougher and more difficult if things are confused, chaotic and you are literally and figuratively in the dark.

What needs to be kept in mind is that if a situation such as this occurs it isn’t a case of ‘every man for himself’ but of ‘everyman THINK for himself’ and then try and improve the knowledge and plans of those around you. Those of us who live, work and make money on cruise ships have an added responsibility (aside from the natural, understandable basic role of saving ourselves) to try and be aware in contributing to the best possible dissemination of sensible information to those less conditioned to the geography of ships than ourselves.

Am I worried that I am sailing away again the day after tomorrow on a cruise ship? No. I am convinced that the majority of cruise ships are meticulously prepared for most emergencies—-God forbid they happen though. It might not occur within swimming distance of the coastline. It might not be as clear cut situation as emergency training drills tend to present when they are held. Let’s use this terrible example as a guideline to raise each of our personal levels of preparedness. I became an entertainer on a ship to make people laugh, I would feel pretty bad if, in an emergency, I couldn’t use my superior shipboard knowledge to save a life (as well, as my own) by doing so.

This is awake-up call. Let’s make sure it wakes us up a little………..     

~ by Nick Lewin on January 17, 2012.

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