I recently finished the book Abandoned Ship: An intimate account of the Costa Concordia shipwreck by Benji Smith. The book is the author’s first hand account of the sinking of the Costa Concordia.
He starts out at the beginning, how he and his fiance, Emily, came to book this cruise as their honeymoon vacation. He tells a little bit about his family and life before the cruise, it helps set the stage for the experience. His story ends with his writing of the book and includes everything in between.
Their experience was in some ways probably pretty typical, and in other ways unique. No, they were not on one of the first lifeboats. They were on the rope bridge down the hull of the ship waiting to be rescued.
The book is authentic, told from the first person and expressing as much of the emotion from the time of the incident as possible. For some, it might seem overly critical, or as though their was an agenda in writing the book, beyond telling the story. However, when you survive a ship wreck I think you’re entitled to have an agenda against those who wrong you, if you so choose. You’re also entitled to fixate on whatever details help get you through that time.
I enjoy how he gives credit to everyone, not matter their role. So whether all they did was keep someone else from panicing or if they arranged the rope bridge and saved hundreds of lives, he gives them credit for the work they did. Everyone has a role, and no judgement on what role was more important. But, if they didn’t contribute anything, he called them out.
The story Benji tells is a good one for travelers and for Emergency Managers. It’s a cautionary tale about the difficulties you’ll face during a major emergency, even when there are people who should be helping you. It will remind you to have copies of your passport and credit cards. It will remind you to be empathetic and compassionate to those in need.