Louis Cruises Sea Diamond ship sinking–clearly not prepared

April 6, 2007

While I write this rescuers are still searching for two French tourists missing from the cruise ship which sank in the Aegean earlier today. And I am still waiting for the cruise lines website to load. I’ve been waiting about five minutes. They still haven’t loaded. I wanted to see how this cruise line was faring in their communication about this disaster. But, it as if they pulled out the phone lines, boarded up the front door and put up a big sign that says we don’t want to talk to you right now. That’s the unintended message of a website that won’t function when you need it most.

Sure, you say, how could it? They are getting millions of hits right now. And that is precisely the point. Most company websites are not built to withstand the millions of hits that a major disaster like this will cause. Since I am involved in a business that sells web-based technology for dealing with situations like this, we have approached cruise lines with the information that they need their website to be prepared for this sort of incident. I’m sorry to report that not a single one has seen the importance of keeping their most important line of communication open during an event of this magnitude.

Frankly, it is inexcusable. Perhaps a few years ago an excuse might be that organization leaders were simply not aware of what will happen to their web traffic during a major news event. But by now it should be obvious to all but those with their heads in their sand, that when a major news story hits, the next thing that will happen is a flood of those most interested will hit the organization’s website.

How much? Millions. It is very possible than in any incident like this more than ten or twenty million hits in one day. The cost of such infrastructure is substantial. But the option to have an incident website hosted on outside servers that are built to handle this traffic is both smart and an increasingly common method of insuring continuity of communication.

By the way, I waiting about five to ten minutes before starting this to see if the cruise line website would load. And now I’ve written this for about fifteen minutes. It still hasn’t loaded. Why won’t you talk to us Louis Cruise Line?

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24 Responses to “Louis Cruises Sea Diamond ship sinking–clearly not prepared”

  1. Chris Baron Says:

    I managed to reach the press release on the site, I find the wording very interesting.
    ——————–
    April 6, 2007

    Louis Hellenic Cruises announces that it has been informed by a French tour leader that so far two members of his group from the MV Sea Diamond have not yet been in contact with him.

    Every effort is being made to locate them

    The company has also reported that unfortunately at the early hours of this morning, local time the vessel sank in Santorini.

    Passengers from Sea Diamond have arrived in Piraeus on the MV Aegean Two and MV Perla is expected to also arrive there with more passengers at around noon local time.

    For further information, please contact:

    MTI Network, London

    John Wickham
    Mobile: + 44 7766 718109

  2. J Pudds Says:

    so the scary thing for me is taht i just recently returned(not even 2 weeks ago) from a cruise on the sea diamond!!!

  3. stephen chacon Says:

    i was on the ship is was really scary


  4. I and my group were on the same cruise the week before on 03-29-07. We had a life vest drill but as I look at the real situation facing this group of passengers, I realize how totally unprepared for a disaster of this type. There was no, “In case of an accident, do this….” instruction. I guess with their great safety record, they felt there was no need for extensive guidance.

    I f we were to face a similar situation, I wouldn’t know where to go or what to do!!

    Fortunately, these people had enough time to get off the boat but if the damage was greater, many more would have been lost.

    This captain was new to this cruise as I understand but he is getting his education on “The School of Hard ROCKS!”

  5. Helene Says:

    Yikes….I was scheduled to take the Sea Diamond in May of this year! Now I wonder what ship we will be thrown on????

  6. Ricky Says:

    So horrible.
    I was on the Nowegian Jewel last month and we had several rough days and nights. Even with something so big as a ocean liner, when you are dealing with human error or Mother Nature those liners can and will go down. It does not happen to often but it still happens.Look how the Oceanos went down back in the 90’s. Again human error. I thank God I made it back from my cruise okay and will have nice memories of it however I have no desire to go on a cruise again.

  7. CHERYL COYLE Says:

    WE JUST GOT OFF SEA DIAMOND ON APRIL 2. I AGREE W/MAN ON OUR CRUISE, FRED ZUROFSKY, THAT THEY WERE UNPREPARED! THEIR LIFEBOAT DRILL WAS THE SLOPPIEST I’VE EVER SEEN. I SAID TO MY HUSBAND THAT THE YOUNG PEOPLE WOULD NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO. NO DIRECTIONS WERE ANNOUNCED ABOUT THE DISTRESS SIGNAL OR ANYTHING. YOU WERE TO READ THE BACK OF YOUR CABIN DOOR, THEN REPORT TO YOUR MUSTER STATION. WHEN WE
    GOT THERE, PROPLE WERE TURNING AROUND! WHAT A CONTRAST W/RCI’S EXPLORER OF THE SEAS ON FEB. 25, WHICH MY SISTER AND I WERE ON: VERY SERIOUS, QUIET–LINED UP IN TIGHT LINES AND COUNTED BY CREW MEMBERS!

  8. Kathryn Andrews Says:

    My experience was similar to the one above regarding the instructions for the lifesaving. (Our group was on the ship from 3/23 to 3/35.) My sister and I put on our life jackets in our cabin and then went to the muster station. There were crew members directing us to our spot, but it was a long way from our state room. Within a few minutes we heard the instructions (apparently in Greek), but no instructions were in English even though most of the people on the boat were from the U.S. With that, a crew member said in broken English, “that’s it,” and I commented “that’s it?” We were not told what to do in case of evacuation, and this was very different from previous cruises.


  9. […] this event, and the company’s general poor performance in responding to the crisis, over at Crisisblogger.com. The argument that Baron makes is that the cruise line has had many recent examples of other […]

  10. Stephen Johnson Says:

    I am becoming very disalusioned with this cruise ship company since my wife and I returned home after being aboard the Sea Diamond when she sank. I have yet to hear anything further from them than what the cruise director said to us before we left our rescue ship and their web site, well they still have their three news releases they put out the first day but nothing new about anything since. Do they think that by not responding all of us who were aboard will forget? I think not …

  11. Christos Tolis Says:

    I’ve been seing the story unfold in the greek networks and as I know the island very well I felt as if I was there…Unfortunately it seems pretty clear to me now that without the”marine evacuation system” (known as “slides”) it’s just too damn hard to get the people off a ship like the Sea Diamond anywhere near as fast as SOLAS would require…

    For the record, after what I too have seen, I don’t think very highly at all about Louis’s crisis management competencies…

  12. Kathy Says:

    I was on the Majestic cruise OCEAN MAJESTY which sailed the exact same itinerary as the Sea Diamond. My friends and I were making jokes about the Sea Diamond always beating us into our ports. (We had been scheduled on the Sea Diamond, but were changed 4 days before departure because of over booking.) I too am very curious as to what the captain and crew were doing. Our ship was going excessively slow past the light house and into the harbor at Santorini. I was on deck taking pictures and along comes the Sea Diamond going much faster and passing us. I speculated that they had first dibs on the dock, but I was curious about their speed since we going so much slower. We left our ship in a tender. When we arrived at our bus we looked back at the Sea Diamond. It was very obvious that it ran aground. The drive to the top of the ridge of the island took no more than 10 – 15 minutes and when we looked back at the Sea Diamond it was very obviously in great distress listing about 20 – 25 degrees. We completed our tour but were unable to return to our ship on time because we were told they were using our tender in the evacuation. We watched from a cafe and noticed that some air blatters were attatched to help stabalize the ship. (I have photos) It wasn’t too long and we were allowed to go back to our ship – about 7:00 – 7:30. We had seen the Sea Diamond being towed and thought they were taking it back to Pireas. We didn’t learn until the next day that the Sea Diamond had sunk.

  13. Alex Bruce Says:

    Interested to read the comments made. We were on the Ocean Diamond at Santorini exactly a week before the sinking. We had been booked on the Ocean Monarch originally, and changed to OD just before departure! A very crowded ship. It had only six lifeboats which if they took fifty people each as one report says, would make 300 people wheras there were nearly 1,200 passengers and nearly 400 crew. I had thought after Titanic there were meant to be enough lifeoats for all! There were inflatable life rafts but these did not seem adequate in number and I cannot see how you could have used these – except by going down a long rope ladder or jumping into the sea first! There has been some mention of watertight doors, but I do not remember noticing these, and clearly they did not save the ship. Had the holing happened when people would have been largely in their cabins (inlower deck) or away from a port the loss of life could have been very high.

  14. Steve Campbell Says:

    My wife and I were on the 8th deck (boat deck) taking photos. We could clearly see the sea bottom and the dark area where the shallow part ended and the deep part began. At one point I noticed we were just inches from the edge of the shallow part; then we hit and moved away from the ridge. We crossed the lobby to take pictures on the other side but returned immediately to the lobby. People were streaming from the lower decks and jammed the exit to the boat stations on the port side (the higher side; it was now listing at least 15 degrees). No one could move through that part of the lobby, not even the crew, it was so packed. That the crew members could even begin to get organized in that crowd was praisworthy. They did and began to get people to move, first to the low, starboard, side where they did manage to release some lifeboats. The operation was not smooth, as it should have been, but the crew worked seriously. They may not have been the crew that was suposed to be there. They helped people with life jackets, spoke to and guided passengers calmly. The crew that were on the 8th deck at that point are deserving of praise. The overall operation, though, was haphazzard at best and worked because of the efforts of the crew.
    Those on the upper decks thought it all a lark at first (acquaintences told me) because they did not know of the water flooding the lower decks and driving the passengers in panic up the stairs. Their take on the proceedings might then be different from mine. On the boat deck, the passengers were in a state of panic at first making it impossible for anyone to move. The crew persevered. My wife and I are grateful to them.
    I don’t know what happened “in the wheelhouse” to allow the collision, so I can’t comment on “bad judgement”. I might say orderly evacuation is not so easy in the event of a sudden calamity where the sea rushes in forcing everyone en masse to fill the passageways. The boat drills were ok but should have included the lowering of the boats, so that such would be automatic. The lowering seemed to be confused.
    Enough for now! COULD SOMEONE TELL ME HOW TO GET IN TOUCH WITH THE CRUISE LINE. MY PASSAGE WAS BOOKED DIRECTLY, NOT THROUGH A TOUR COMPANY. I HAVEN’T HEARD FROM THE COMPANY YET. WILL I? I’D LIKE TO KNOW THAT THEY KNOW I’M HERE AND THAT THEY INTEND TO GET IN TOUCH.

  15. Rose-Marie Says:

    Your article was really interesting, Would you mind if I put a link onto my blog http://oceanossinking.blogspot.com/ ?


  16. […] on this event, and the company’s general poor performance in responding to the crisis, over at Crisisblogger.com. The argument that Baron makes is that the cruise line has had many recent examples of other cruise […]

  17. shawn lane Says:

    you can go away

  18. shawn lane Says:

    play with each other

  19. Steve Campbell Says:

    To Rose Marie (April 30th note)
    Sorry I’m so late getting back, been away.
    Sure, use it. By the way, since my comments, I have been in touch with the cruise line who responded immediately when I sent out an email to a travel agent who handles Louis Cruises asking them to forward my request. The last word was they’ll be in touch!
    As a considered afterthought, I should have been more alarmed and less trusting when I saw we were getting so close to the “ridge”.

  20. Bob Says:

    Very very scary it is unbelievable to see these tragic things happen. All my condolenses to all the people that passed away. I was schdueled to ride the sea diamond on that day but i cancelled it because i couldnt make it.

  21. Michelle Says:

    I just returned from a cruise with Louis Cruises. Unfortunately, even after the Sea Diamond disaster, I have to say the emergency drill that passangers were all put through on embarking the ship was haphazzard. Instructions given were unclear, no one seemed to know what was going on. The cruise liner I was on had the crew from the Sea Diamond on it. Im sure they were extremely panicked (even though they didnt show it) when the generators went down and we were without toilets, lights, air con, etc for 6 hrs.

  22. Crissi Says:

    Dear all

    This is just the tip of the iceberg with Louis Cruise Lines

    I am an ex-employee and informed management that I was raped by the captain on one of these vessels. Do date nothing has been done!! I heard nothing from them for a year after the incident when I asked some questions. Two years later Im still waiting for answers!! The crew are subject to terrible abuses too!!

  23. ann Says:

    Kathy, please go to http://www.SeaDiamondSurvivors.org and email us. Your observations are very important. We would like to contact you. Thank you.


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