Italian cruise disaster gives me a sinking feeling — Curt Yeomans

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.

I have never been comfortable on a boat, because I’m always afraid it will sink.

As a young child, I didn’t even like to go swimming in the ocean, because I had this fear that “Jaws” was waiting in the water to get me. My fear of being on a boat is based on the idea that I have no idea of what’s in the water, if I suddenly find myself having to swim for my life.

If I go on a ferry ride, I stay away from the edge of the boat. The only exception to that, which I can recall, was when I went to Niagara Falls. That was only because we were going just a few feet away from the dock, to the waterfall, and then coming right back.

I worry, on cross-Atlantic flights, that the plane will crash into the Northern Atlantic Ocean, even though I would be dead as soon as the plane hit the water after falling from a height of 40,000 feet.

It wouldn’t matter because my body, or whatever was left of it, would be in the open sea, and anything that wanted a snack would be able to eat me.

So, let’s not even discuss the idea of getting me to go on a cruise, even though I had been trying to warm myself to the idea of maybe, someday, going on one.

I am running away from that idea like a little Curt running away from the ocean at the beach, thanks to the recent partial sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, off Italy’s coast.

Actually, in my opinion, if the ship was going to sink anywhere, at least it sank that close to land, because it means people only had to swim a few strokes before they reached the land that was only, perhaps, the length of a football field from the ship. I recognize that is not likely to happen every time, however.

I had been hesitant because cruises are expensive (like easily $4,000-plus), so there was a factor that it was already cost-prohibitive, but this recent sinking — you can see it everyday on the news, on its side in the water — has added another wall that I would have to overcome.

I am not writing this to bash cruise ships. People who like them, and feel safe on them, can keep taking cruises till their heart is content. I am speaking as someone who was apprehensive about going on them in the first place, and who is now absolutely backing away from cruise ships.

The cruise ship industry still has that Titanic sinking that comes to people’s minds 100 years after it happened. The movie made a boat load of money back in 1998, and it is coming back to movie theaters this year as a 3-D update.

When you think of cruises, you can’t help but have the Titanic disaster in the back of your mind with Celine Dion endlessly crooning “near, far, wherever you are, I believe that the heart does go on” as a musical accompaniment.

Add other high profile sinkings, such as the Lusitania in 1915, the Andrea Doria in 1956, and the constant sight of the Costa Concordia on its side, and it does not exactly inspire confidence in cruise ships.

No amount of Kathy Lee Giffords conga dancing on a ship’s deck, and singing, “If your friends could see you now ...” is going to change that.

Curt Yeomans covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.