Cruise Ship Captain’s Defense: I Tripped Into a Lifeboat

Along with everyone else associated with the doomed Costa Concordia, the captain has got a crisis communications situation on his hands. Media outlets in Italy and around the world have painted a picture of Francesco Schettino as a coward who jumped ship and refused to return even as passengers and his crew members struggled and, in some cases, perished after the vessel ran aground off the Tuscan coast.

Today, Captain Schettino is reported saying that, rather than fleeing the ship in a lifeboat, he actually tripped and landed in one during the chaos. Umm…

“I was trying to get people to get into the boats in an orderly fashion. Suddenly, since the ship was at a 60 to 70 degree angle, I tripped and I ended up in one of the boats. That’s how I found myself there,” he told the newspaper La Repubblica.

According to the New York Times, coverage in Italy has expanded beyond the incident itself, with the media finding parallels between the shipwreck and issues facing the Italian government and society.

And all around the world, we have the translated recording of the Coast Guard telling the captain to re-board the ship to help women and children. “But you are aware that it is dark and we can’t see anything,” says Schettino at one point. Sounds like the captain took a page out of the George Costanza crisis response manual.

While he was cowering, the Coast Guard took charge and have become heroes, the Times continues. Schettino is currently under house arrest and could face charges including manslaughter.

But just because the captain continues to look worse and worse doesn’t mean the cruise ship companies, Costa and Carnival, and the cruise industry don’t still have trouble on its hands. The rescue and recovery mission continues, passengers are still talking about the cruise line’s terrible handling of the situation and lack of training, there may be environmental issues, and there are the pictures.

“The images from the Concordia present a major challenge to South Florida’s cruise-line industry, which attracts millions of tourists to the region and employs thousands of workers,” reads the Miami Herald.

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