A bridge of sighs ?

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A couple of months ago, I was invited to take the controls of a cruise ship and steer it into port in Singapore or through Glacier Bay, Alaska.
It was a fantastic opportunity, the fulfilment of a dream, even though it would not actually have been on the bridge of a real ship. My moment of glory would have taken place on a high-tech simulator at CSMART – the Centre for Simulator Maritime Training – in Carnival UK’s training centre at Almere in the Netherlands.
According to Carnival, the centre “features state of the art equipment and instructional tools to provide participants with a superior maritime training experience that will foster critical thinking, problem solving, ethical decision making, and confidence.”
Unfortunately I had to decline the invitation (I’m hoping they’ll ask me again) because I was flying off to join a real cruise ship in the Middle East.
But a couple of recent incidents across the other side of the pond have set me wondering whether Carnival UK should offer the centre’s services to their American counterparts.
Last week the 70,000-ton Carnival Ecstasy collided with a £1.15 million passenger gangway – pushing it about 15 feet along the quay – while manoeuvring out of port at Galveston, Texas. No-one was injured, but some of the ship’s glass-fronted balconies were damaged, and the gangway is likely to be out of action for several weeks.
Only a week earlier, the 86,000-ton Carnival Miracle was damaged when it hit the dockside while berthing in St Kitts. Again, no passengers or crew were injured, but welders had to be brought in from a nearby construction site to repair a 30-ft gash in the hull, and the ship’s return to Fort Lauderdale was delayed by a few hours.
In December, Carnival Splendor collided with a pier while docking in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and last September, caught by a gust of wind, Carnival Legend collided with Enchantment of the Seas in Cozumel, causing superficial damage to both ships.
I have little doubt that if I ever get my hold of the simulator controls my chances of docking safely are about as likely as being able to juggle five flaming torches while balancing on a tightrope.
At least I wouldn’t end up as red-faced as the captain of Cunard’s Queen Victoria who rammed the ship stern-first into the concrete harbour wall at Valletta, Malta in May 2008 – with billionaire Carnival boss Micky Arison on his bridge at the time !

By | 2010-02-03T22:27:35+00:00 3 February 2010|Cruise news|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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