There is an old joke about the crew on the cruise ships that when asked what they would do if they found an unconscious passenger lying in one of the lounges, and the answer is that they would vacuum the lounge later.
Before I go into this let me describe the lay out of the main buffet area on the ship, which is called the Lido deck. In the middle of the ship there is a swimming pool and bunch of tables, deck chairs loungers etc. Directly behind that is the Lido restaurant which has two doors to the pool area and two doors to the deck area behind the restaurant. The restaurant has two large buffets located in the middle and tables around it. The area behind the Lido Restaurant is covered by a canvas top which acts as a sun shade but is segmented so does not stop the rain. As I said there are two doors to this stern area. These doors are activated by motion sensors located above the doors. One door doesn’t work and has been blocked off the entire cruise. It was a poor design when the ship was launched and 21 years later it has totally failed. The other door is temperamental sometimes sticking and jamming. At any given time there are 50- 100 people eating or just enjoying the view from this area.
So the other day along comes this rain squall and all of a sudden the rain is just hammering down. Everyone jumps out of their seats and mobs the one door. It immediately jams trapping close to 100 people who were eating lunch. Two of the large men immediately start jerking on the door but it is jammed. Others are screaming, some people are banging on the widows of the restaurant. Mean while the four or so crew in the stern area just continue to bus the dishes. I am just standing there amazed at the wild panic, and thinking “MY GOD what if this were a real emergency.” A few minutes later an officer came and released the door ending the panic.
However this kind of opened my eyes and as I looked around there are a bunch of other areas where one has to look out. The main lounge area where the shows are held, seats 300-400 people. It has two aisles. The people riding scooters regularly come about half way down and block those aisles. If there were an emergency in the lounge and you had to get out good luck. Same thing in the main dinning room scooters are parked in the aisles with no regard for the safety issue. A bunch of these scooters are rented to people for the cruise and no regard is given to educating these people.
In case you didn’t know that the length of a cruise is directly proportional to the age of the passengers. The longer the cruise to older they get. On this cruise my estimate is that 30% cannot negotiate stairs. In an emergency there would be no elevators. How do these people get to the life boats? How do the other 70% of the people get to lifeboats with these people blocking the stairs?
So what is the lesson here? Sit at the back of the lounge. Don’t get caught in a mad panic. Know where your life jacket is.