Costa Allegra passengers tell tales of three days at sea without power

 

After 72 hours existing on a relentless diet of bread and cold cuts, washing in mineral water and braving the stench of backed up toilets, the passengers of the crippled Costa Allegra limped into the Seychelles today.

Although conditions never quite resembled the Raft of the Medusa, tired and dirty holidaymakers who had paid £5,000 for the 14-day luxury cruise said they had feared they might have to abandon ship when it lost power after a fire on Monday.

Thirty-one Britons were among those offered two weeks rest and recuperation in the luxury Indian Ocean resort by the beleaguered cruise company as they made land safely in Port Victoria.

Some described confusion and panic after a general emergency was declared following the generator fire which saw smoke billowing from the engine room. Others complained they had been treated “like cattle”.

The ship's captain, Niccolo Alba, in only his second voyage in charge, told waiting reporters that the alarm was sounded and the lifeboats were lowered when the Allegra started drifting in waters notorious for pirates.

He praised the 413 strong crew. “They all followed my instructions to the letter, and they all behaved as great professionals,” he said.

Half of the 636 passengers took up the company’s offer of a holiday on the exclusive island of Mahe. The remainder said they wanted to get home to loved ones as soon as possible.

Costa Cruises is battling a public relations crisis in the wake of the incident which follows the capsize of the Costa Concordia last month with the loss of 32 lives.

This time only two people were slightly injured when they fell in the dark which followed the generator fire. One woman was taken away by ambulance when the ship docked and another helped down the gangway.

Despite the presence of the Red Cross no others needed medical attention and the holidaymakers – average age 55 - were instead whisked away to their free accommodation and the promise of a full refund on their cruise.

The main issue was the sweltering heat and lack of air conditioning which turned the luxury cabins and staterooms into stinking no-go areas.

Passengers were forced to sleep on deck and take advantage of the tropical bruise as they were towed to land by a French tuna vessel.

David Tinson from Headley Down, Hampshire, said.  “They treated everyone like cattle, with absolute contempt.”

Pam Morrey, from Stoke on Trent, who was celebrating her 60th birthday with a cruise said it was lucky that there had been no serious problems.

“No one was washing, everyone’s hands were in the food, I’m staggered there wasn’t an outbreak of dysentery or something,” she said.

Others were equally relieved. “It could have been worse than it was,” said Gordon Bradwell, 72, from Athens, Georgia who was marking his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife Eleanor. “It could have been disastrous ... we're here, we're alive.”

Austrian doctor Thomas Faller, 66, was more relaxed “It was not dramatic. It was quiet. After (the fire was out) it was just boring,” he said.

The authorities were putting the best gloss on events. “The fact we have a carnival on, the weather is great, and the fact they want to continue their holidays is great for them and great for us,” said Srdjana Janosevic, spokeswoman for the president of the Seychelles. “It means this potentially tragic situation has a happy ending.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions