Today's blog has nothing to do with books, apart from the fact that in FBK2 Dermott Madison and Albert took a cruise on a Carnival ship.
This blog may seem disrespectful in the current light of things, but no matter, this blog must be written.
If you have been personally affected by the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise liner I urge you to stop reading now.
As the world mourns, argues about and debates the sinking of the cruise ship Costa Concordia, let me give you some cold hard facts about the company that owns the line and the safety hazards that occur within these ships.
Firstly, you will ask yourselves, how does this bloke know anything about anything? Well, if you have read FBK2 you will realise that I have actually been on a Carnival cruise ship, several actually.
There was a time in my life when I had to disappear for a while, well, six months to be precise. I decided the best option was to float about on federal waters in a Panama or Bahamas registered ship. Visiting Mexico, the Caribbean (East & West) and South America.
All of these ships were part of the Carnival fleet (Carnival Corporation owns Costa Cruise lines) To cut a long story short I spent six months of my life travelling back and forth on their ships, getting to know the crew and eventually blagging a "crew area" pass for the last ship, Carnival Glory, upon which I spent three weeks as a VIP guest.
That's the history - Here are the facts.
The good points:
A) The onboard safety training of all crew is to the highest standard (International Maritime Organisation & US Coastguard). They are basically brainwashed into knowing what to do and where to go in case of an "emergency at sea"
And that's where the good points stop.
The bad points:
1) Most ships have a crew of around 1,000. In my estimation only 10% of these have English as their first language (USC, British, some Filipinos and Indians). The Costa Concordia, like most ships, had a predominantly Asian crew (Filipino, Indonesians and Indians) None of which would be able to speak Italian to the predominantly Italian passengers and officers. Most Italians DO NOT speak English, it is not taught in their schools, even though it is the legal language of the sea. I have met captains who do not speak English!!!
2) The Carnival Corporation employ the cheapest labour they can find. Therefore they use native language speakers to conduct employment interviews in the aforementioned countries. English, the language of the sea, is never used in said interviews.
So what do we have? A disaster at sea and a crew who hardly speak English let alone Italian. That is why some guests were told to go back to their cabins and others were ordered to head to their "muster stations" in preparation of boarding lifeboats. We have a situation of chaos caused by the desire to employ slave labour.
A galley worker can earn $600 (three hundred quid) for working, not a week, but a month. That's seven days a week (officially 10 hours a day but normally much more) for six to eight months at a time. Carnival don't care if the galley slave speaks English, as long as he can cook eggs or clean dishes until the day he dies. But if Carnival obeyed maritime law, we wouldn't have dead bodies off the coast of Italy and many more missing.
3) The company implemented the fact (as of last year) that any new employee must pass the Marlin's English test before they were allowed to join a ship. But the fact remains that 90% of their employees (that's a guess) expect to work for the Carnival for a minimum of 10 years and most of those employees were with the company before the English test was introduced.
There is a story among the Carnival employees about an inspection from the US Coastguard. They do an excellent job (especially due to the fact that Carnival hide all of their non-English speaking crew during an inspection) Anyway, the Coastguard collared a Chinese crewmember and asked him what was the signal for an emergency. (Its seven short blasts of the whistle followed by one long blast, btw) The only English this guy understood was emergency, so he proceeded to imitate the ship's whistle, covering the Coastguard Inspector in spittle.
I laughed when I heard this story. But no one is laughing now.
In short, Carnival are a law-breaking, racist company (who pay higher wages to white Europeans for doing the same job as their Asian or South American counterparts.)
If every crewmember had spoken English/Italian on the Costa Concordia (as they should) there would be no hearses waiting on the pier.
4) All of Carnival's cruise ships used to be built in Scandinavia (mainly Finland) to the highest quality. The steel used in the hulls would kick any rock's arse. To please the shareholders costs were brought down and now the ships are built in Trieste, Italy. Low grade craftsmanship, low quality steel...rock...fucked!
I could go on for pages and eventually clog up the entire server but I won't. You get my drift. This was something which was destined to happen and thank God they weren't out to sea.