SS Normandie vs Costa Concordia

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The wreck of the Costa Concordia

The Costa Concordia disaster is not the first time a large cruise liner has come to rest on its side.  To some who are well-versed in maritime news and shipwrecks, the images of the cruise ship Costa Concordia lying on her side off the Italian coast might look familiar.  In 1942, a top-of-the-line cruise ship, the Normandie, was undergoing conversion to become a troop transport ship in New York Harbor when she caught fire and capsized, coming to rest on her side, much like Costa Concordia.

Harvey Ardman’s Normandie: Her Life and Times, from the Library’s stacks, provides a very detailed history of this legendary ship.  Construction began on the Normandie in early 1931.  At the time she would be the largest ship ever built: 1,029 ft. long with a maximum breadth of 119 ft., weighing in at a staggering 27,675 tons.  Compare this to Costa Concordia‘s 952 ft. long and 116 ft. wide.  Normandie was launched in October 1932, then spent three years being outfitted for her maiden voyage in 1935.   Read more

Looters already haul off a prize

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With the bodies of the dead still trapped inside the hull, looters have lost no time in making off with Costa Concordia’s ship’s bell. Evading 24-hour surveillance by the Italian Coast Guard and complicated laser systems measuring tiny shifts in the ship’s position, thieves removed the bell probably 2 weeks ago.  The news was reported this morning on the website  See the full story here.

I have always loved ship’s bells and am particularly disheartened by this despicable act.  So I thumbed through a book at the library, “The Ship’s Bell: Its History and Romance,” by Karl Wade, to see how salvaged bells tend to get used.  Not only did I find  that there are a great many people who share a love of the bell and all that it symbolizes, but I also discovered something about The Mariners’ Museum that I didn’t know.  It turns out that we may have the oldest ship’s bell in America, salvaged from the bottom of the York River in 1934 off a British warship sunk in 1781.  Collections Management dates this bell as early as 1750.   Read more

No Love for The Love Boat

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From the Library's collection, the Island Princess is the sister ship of the Pacific Princess. While not as heavily featured, the Island Princess did appear on "The Love Boat" a number of times.

While I am a bit too young to remember the romantic antics of Captain Stubing and the rest of the crew of the Pacific Princess, for many people a couple generations older than me, the classic ABC romantic sitcom “The Love Boat” provided hours of television entertainment.  These people might be saddened to know that the Pacific Princess, the cruise ship that was the model for “The Love Boat” and appeared in the opening credits for the show’s 10-season run, has been sold for scrap to a Turkish company.

The Pacific Princess was built in 1971, originally named the Sea Venture, and was sold to Princess Cruises in 1974, where it was renamed the Pacific Princess.  In addition to portraying weekly comedic and romantic adventures to American television viewers, many credit “The Love Boat” with stimulating American, and international interest in the cruise industry and cruise ship vacations.   Read more

Domnica Cemortan, the "Costa Concordia Blonde," Finally Talks

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Domnica Cemortan, the blonde tour representative who some say bears a share of the responsibility for Captain Schettino’s hitting a reef, on Sunday gave a full account of her relationship with Costa Concordia‘s beleaguered skipper.  The extensive interview is published in Sunday’s Daily Mail.  See the full interview at

While Ms. Cemortan’s flirtation could have been one of many distractions to the captain on the Concordia‘s bridge, this author believes that she cannot in any way be held responsible for Capt. Schettino’s actions and failures to act on Jan. 13. However, the fact of her presence on the bridge during this risky passage so close to Le Scola Point when she was no longer a crew member casts further doubt on Schettino’s professional judgment.

Poor Costa!

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This is not the year for the Italian cruise line Costa Crociere!

Readers of this blog know about the disaster involving the super-liner Costa Concordia.  Now it seems that another Costa vessel is in trouble.  The Telegraph broke the story this morning that Costa Allegra is adrift in the Indian Ocean following a fire that broke out in its electrical room.  See the story here.  Allegra has over 1,000 people on board, but the company reports that all are safe, that the fire has been put out and that tugs are on their way.   Read more