A SCARBOROUGH woman has recounted her ill-fated voyage aboard the stricken luxury cruise liner the Costa Concordia, after it crashed while she was on board.
Dawn Jackson, owner of the Harbourside Party Shop in Sandside, has told how the half-billion-pound ship smashed into a dock in Sicily during a family cruise in November 2008.
So far, at least 11 people have died and more than 20 are still missing after the vessel ran aground near the Italian island of Giglio on Friday, with around 4,000 passengers on board.
The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, 52, has since been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.
Speaking to the Evening News, Mrs Jackson, who has cruised all over the world, labelled the doomed liner an “accident waiting to happen”.
Mrs Jackson, who was accompanied on the cruise by family members including her late husband Neville, said: “I’ve been on 16 cruises in total, and that was by far and away the worst.
“My husband was a ship’s captain himself, and he couldn’t believe some of the things that were going on.
“The crew usually make you go through the safety drill pretty much as soon as you set foot on the ship. My husband grabbed one of the crew and asked when they would go through it, but they just turned around and said: ‘You needn’t bother to go.’
“In the end they never had one. I couldn’t believe it.”
However, that decision nearly came back to haunt the crew, after the ship “recklessly” crashed as it approached the dock in Palermo, Sicily.
It left Mrs Jackson and her family stranded for more than 15 hours as workers frantically tried to repair a huge dent in the side of the vessel.
“We were down on deck eight at the time, and my daughter-in-law, who was pregnant at the time, was in an outside cabin,” she said.
“All of a sudden we heard a bang and there was a big smack. Everybody came rushing out, asking what had happened.
“There was no announcement from the captain or anybody really to let people know what had happened, to let us know there had been a crash.
“Most announcements they did make on the ship were either in Italian or German. Any announcements in English were only a couple of words. They treated us a bit like second-class citizens.”
Mrs Jackson added: “On one cruise, I arranged a surprise for my husband to see the controls of the ship and he was amazed at how hi-tech they had become.
“When it crashed, he couldn’t believe it. He said at the time: ‘These things drive themselves, how has he managed to do this?’
“It’s such a shame, it was a beautiful ship. But we said after that we would never go with that company again.”