Cambridge couple recall cruise chaos
A Cambridge couple celebrating their honeymoon recalled a chaotic scene aboard the luxury cruise liner Costa Concordia when it ran aground and tipped over Friday night off the coast of Italy, killing at least five people and leaving another 15 people unaccounted for.
“People were running up and down the stairs. People were screaming. Children were crying. It was panic,’’ Benji Smith recalled by phone last night from a hotel room in Rome.
Smith, 34, and his wife, Emily Lau, 27, were in their cabin aboard the ship 14 days after their Cambridge wedding.
Suddenly, the ship began to lean. Objects in the cabin began to slide. At first, the couple thought it must have been a big wave. But when the lights flickered: “We knew something is really wrong,’’ Smith said.
The newlyweds grabbed their life vests and a cellphone to use as a flashlight, and went upstairs.
“The life boats were being loaded, women and children first,’’ he said. “All of the people felt like their families were being pulled apart.’’
He recalled confusing messages being broadcast over the ship’s intercom.
“There was no system in place,’’ Smith said. “No orderliness.’’
The first announcements assured passengers that there had been a problem with a generator and that they could return to their cabins.
But a crewmember stopped Smith and Lau as they were going back. By then, the ship was leaning heavily Smith said. “Finally, we heard: ‘Prepare to abandon ship.’ ’’
Matt Rocheleau can be reached at email@example.com.