_ I don’t know as much about the Titanic as about the Lusitania. With the Lusitania there was a mysterious second explosion. the cause of that has never been determined. There was a diver some years ago who had a theory but others say Britain is still withholding key evidence. The ship sits at the bottom of the Irish Sea off the coast of Ireland. Valuable paintings might still be aboard. So this ship is the biggest mystery yet.

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_ It’s very true that people don’t know what they would do until they are confronted with a dramatic event. I was part of an Amtrak train wreck in August of 1992. It was the Sunset Limited coming back from Tucson to New Orleans. The attendant was in our car taking orders for dinner at about 5:00PM. Just as I was saying, “Roast beef!” we were thrown forward in our seats. There was a thud, and we stopped moving. A few seconds later another attendant rushed back through the cars screaming, “Get out of the train! Now!”

We were in the very last car. I grabbed my purse and my video camera. I told my husband to get hold of our son and his backpack. I didn’t wait. I dashed forward toward the stairs. On the way out I had the foresight to grab our overnight bag that was stashed in a bin near the door.

As soon as I climbed out they told us to run as far away from the train as possible. We could see that the train had run into a big truck in the grade crossing. The truck was on fire. Gray smoke was billowing into the sky. The front cars of the train were consumed with it. They told us the truck was carrying acid, and they thought it was going to explode. I somehow remembered to take a video of the event as well as photos.

It didn’t explode. They loaded us into a school bus and took us to the South Crawley Grade School where the locals were supposed to show up with bologna and cheese sandwiches. But nobody was showing up fast. People had to go to the bathroom. The facilities were locked.

I led a group across the street to knock on the doors of the residents. We used the bathrooms of the people who lived near the Elementary School. I was surprised I had any presence of mind at all. Before that day I thought I’d be the type to dissolve in tears or breakdown under stress. But instead for some reason my emotions receded to a distance and my brain took over.

My bag turned out to be handy. Other passengers needed to borrow aspirin and bandages from my toiletry kit.

We were bused into New Orleans and didn’t arrive at the La Mothe House where we were staying until after midnight.

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_ I think you misunderstand where I’m coming from. I’m a suspense novelist. I look for sinkings, sabotage, and terrorist acts as grist for my creative mill. I do lots of historical thrillers. For instance I wrote a novel called Those Who Dream By Day about World War I, the Great War. The first few chapters were about the sinking of the Lusitania. As far as my personal life goes, I’ve actually sailed the Mediterranean.

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_ You didn’t read my post. I said the question is not whether a cruise is suitable for me. There are larger issues involved, many of them historic. It is amazing how many of the so-called updates are superficial at best. Human nature takes over in a disaster. Human nature never changes. People panic during a disaster unless they are met with exceptional leadership. Just think how many “routs” in battles were turned around by generals worthy of the name. If someone on the Costa Concordia had demonstrated exceptional leadership and told the passengers exactly how to evacuate in an orderly fashion and had maintained a sense of complete calm I think you would have seen a different result. Of course, technology would have had to solve the issue of lifeboats being launched when a ship was listing. I’m not an engineer. I don’t know how this works. Someone has suggested to me that a double hull might help, the kind that container ships have. That would have helped the Titanic, the Lusitania, and the Costa Concordia.

If you wonder where I’m coming from, I’m a suspense novelist. I’m looking for sinkings, sabotage, terrorist acts, etc. That’s why I dwell on them, not for any other reason. Actually you would be amazed. I have actually gone on a Mediterranean cruise. Did you read that? I’VE ACTUALLY SAILED.

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_ It doesn’t matter if SOLAS standards have been updated. The standards on the Lusitania had been updated compared to the Titanic. For example, they had MORE lifeboats. On May 1, 1915 a representative of the Cunard line stood on the Cunard dock in NYC telling everyone that the Lusitania could beat a torpedo any day. It could even outrun it. He listed all the reasons why the ship was so sophisticated. See the first chapters of Those Who Dream By Day, my book on the subject.

This sort of bravado reminds of of the bravado you hear today about various ships. Whether I should sail or not sail is not the issue. It is whether cruise lines will wake up and use common sense. For instance, the Lusitania should obviously NOT have sailed especially in the face of the German warning. In the case of the Costa Concordia, they should have had more crew members who spoke English. They should also have more competent captains. One of the guidebook writers says that crew members nowadays aren’t as well trained. This makes me think that the improvements in the past 100 years are superficial at best. When real disaster strikes, people revert to savagery: i.e. The Lusitania passengers brought out guns and fought over life jackets and lifeboats. Apparently Costa Concordia passengers fought over the same things, though I haven’t heard about guns.

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_ In Those Who Dream By Day the Lusitania sinks in 18 minutes. The heroine, Dora Benley, must jump off the sinking ship that is listing badly — just like the Costa Concordia. She swims to a lifeboat and lands in Queenstown.

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_ This was why I asked the question about lifeboats during the virtual Transatlantic cruise for the Queen Mary 2 last week. I wanted to know what training the crew had been given. One of the respondents was shocked, saying that I was silly not to trust the cruise lines. But this problem with lifeboats goes back at least one hundred years. The Titanic didn’t have enough. The Lusitania, like the Costa Concordia, listed badly. It made it difficult to launch them. You’d think during the past one hundred years more progress would have been made on this one issue.

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_ The Costa Concordia, an Italian liner, went aground on the coast of Italy. They hit a rocky spur. Italians, Britains, and Germans had to leave the ship less than two hours after leaving port. Some leaped overboard and swam ashore near Island of Giglio. The Coast Guard Said three bodies were retrieved from the sea and 69 were unaccounted for out of 3200 passengers. The starboard side was submerged in the water.

Dinner on Friday night was interrupted by a loud boom. Then came the order to don the life jackets. The ship started to list. All the glasses broke and people panicked and ran. The water started coming in. The emergency alarm went off. People pushed in a bid to gt into lifeboats.

The crew had trouble launching the lifeboats because the ship was listing so much. This is the same as the Lusitania disaster 100 years ago in 1915. This is why I asked what training Cunard crew members had in dealing with lifeboats during the Transatlantic virtual cruise last week. It’s still a relevant point. Some passengers complained that they had received no instruction in lifeboats before the sinking. You would think that cruise lines had learned nothing in the past 100 years!

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Hamburg is having a harbor celebration this summer. To celebrate Cunard has more crossings headed that direction. One is in May, one in July, and one in August.


We’re booked on the sailing in July. Who else is?

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How do you get from the cruise ship port in Southampton to London after the Queen Mary 2 docks there? Do you take a bus or a train? Is there a car rental agency in Southampton? Does Cunard run a shuttle service both ways?

Where do you get dropped in London? Does Cunard have a building there? Do you get dropped somewhere else?

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