En español | For her 65th birthday, Alex Beach’s husband treated her to a Mediterranean cruise. But instead of relishing a luxurious trip, they endured a nightmarish escape from the cruise ship Costa Concordia.
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The hull of the liner, carrying 4,200 passengers and crew, was ripped open after it struck rocks off the Tuscany coast. The ship immediately went dark and began listing. At least 11 passengers are confirmed dead; more than a dozen others remain missing following the Jan. 13 tragedy.
For the Albuquerque, N.M., couple, the drama began with an announcement over the public address system that characterized the situation as a “minor electrical issue,” said Arthur Beach, 66.
Some 30 minutes later, around 9:30 p.m., alarms went off and passengers were told to evacuate immediately, Alex said. She threw on her sweatsuit over her pajamas and fled the cabin with her husband.
“It became every man for himself,” Alex told the AARP Bulletin. “It took us five tries to get on a lifeboat.
“Some had to jump to get in the water. The shore wasn’t too far, but in the darkness, to swim to shore, that would’ve been terrifying to me.
“Everybody was pushing and screaming. There was hysteria. My most vivid memory is looking back at the ship as we were going to shore and seeing the deck lined with passengers in orange life vests, waiting to be rescued. And there were no boats left.”
Arthur, an attorney, said when he thinks back to his previous cruises, each one held a safety drill for passengers and crew. The Costa Concordia did not.
Would the Beaches take another cruise? Alex said that’s unlikely. Arthur said yes.
They do have another trip planned for later this year. It’s an African safari.
“We’ll fly,” Arthur said. “No ship.”
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