Monday, January 23, 2012

Costa Concordia: Authorities Search for Schettino's laptop computer

Italian authorities are searching for the personal computer of the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, amid reports that it was taken away by a mystery blonde woman in the hours after the disaster.

Costa Concordia: authorities search for cruise ship captain's laptop

As uncertainty over the exact circumstances of the debacle grew, divers used explosives to blow more holes in the hull of the ship and continued their search for the estimated 19 people who are still missing from the accident. The death toll stands at 13.

Officials are trying to determine whether they can continue the search operation whilst at the same time authorising a Dutch salvage firm to start pumping out the ship's half a million gallons of heavy oil and diesel.
The giant cruise liner ran aground on Jan 13 after crashing into rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio after the captain apparently misjudged a manoeuvre to 'salute' the island by sailing close to shore.
Capt Francesco Schettino reportedly retrieved the laptop from his cabin and brought it ashore with him, after escaping from the crippled luxury liner in a lifeboat in the early hours of Saturday, Jan 14.
Once on dry land, he took a taxi to the Hotel Bahamas, the only hotel that was open on Giglio.
The owners of the hotel said the captain was holding a red plastic bag containing a rectangular white object which resembled a laptop case.

The fact that he is alleged to have brought some of his personal possessions ashore has raised more questions, because in testimony to investigators last week he claimed to have "tripped" and fallen into the life boat, amid scenes of chaos and panic.

He was being interviewed by an Italian television network when a smartly-dressed middle-aged blonde woman employed by Costa Cruises swept into the lobby, ordered him not to do any more interviews, and whisked him away.

When he was interviewed by police in the nearby town of Orbetello several hours later, he did not have a computer with him.

"The captain wanted to go off and change into some dry socks," Paolo Fanciulli, 45, the owner of the Hotel Bahamas, told The Daily Telegraph.

"He asked me if I could keep an eye on his bag. It was about 11.30am on Saturday. Italian journalists were trying to interview him. Suddenly a blonde woman, who I guessed was a lawyer from what she said, came into the lobby and said: "No interviews".

"She understood the situation immediately. She took him by the arm and led him away. It all happened in about four or five seconds." A short time later Capt Schettino was arrested on the island and taken to a police station in Orbetello on the mainland for questioning.

Police records show that by that time he had only his mobile phone in his possession.

Carabinieri police from Grosseto, where the lead prosecutor in the case is based, visited Giglio last week to try to ascertain more details on the apparently missing computer.

"The captain looked like he hadn't slept all night," said Mr Fanciulli. "He looked tired, exhausted. He had no trace of arrogance. And he certainly didn't seem as if he had been drinking. He was in shock from what had happened." Capt Schettino's lawyer did not respond to telephone calls but Costa Cruises denied that its employee had obtained the laptop.

"Having spoken to the person, we deny categorically having received anything from Capt Schettino," the company said in a statement. It did not offer any explanation of where any computer might be.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Costa Cruise Captain Crash - I predicted it Long ago!

Dear TrumpetTravels Blog,

I have been largely silent about this cruise ship captain, but this is truly disgraceful.  Below you will find the repost of an article from the telegraph and please check what I said about Italian Officer in the past by clicking on this link.  They had this one coming for sure!

Costa Concordia: Italians buy t-shirts with 'Get back on board, for ----’s sake!' logo
Italians show anger at the Costa Concordia cruise ship captain, Francesco Schettino, with t-shirts screaming "Get back on board, for ----’s sake!" and the creation of Facebook pages and Twitter hashtags.

By Nick Squires, Giglio and Victoria Ward in Sorrento
11:48AM GMT 18 Jan 2012

It has come to symbolise the entire disaster – the furious command barked down a phone line by a Coast Guard official to the captain of the Costa Concordia to get back on the ship and take command of the mass evacuation.

“Get back on board, for ----’s sake,” screamed the official, Gregorio De Falco – a phrase that has now gone viral among Italians on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.

The original Italian – “Vado a bordo, cazzo” – has even been printed on T-shirts, after millions of Italians listened to the audio recordings of the increasingly frantic entreaties given by Mr De Falco to the captain as the ship ran aground on the island of Giglio on Friday night. The apparently negligent and irresponsible behaviour of Capt Francesco Schettino – who is said to have sailed so close to the island in order to give a ‘salute’ to an old friend and as a favour for a member of his crew - has prompted intense soul-searching in Italy.

The top twitter trend in Italy is now #vadaabordocazzo.

While the captain has been labelled a show-off, Mr De Falco, has been hailed as a hero and the voice of reason in the whole debacle, repeatedly asking the commander what on earth he was doing by jumping into a life boat before his 4,200 passengers and crew had been evacuated.

The Italian media said the portrayal of Capt Schettino had tapped into the most familiar stereotypes of their countrymen – he was a dark-haired, sun-tanned “dare devil”, according to one ship’s officer, who drove his 114,000 tonne, 13-storey cruise liner “like a Ferrari” and telephoned his ‘Mamma’ as soon as he realised the trouble he was in.

The protagonists in the drama represented “the two faces of Italy”, the Italian media said.

“His decisive tones recalled black and white war films and comic book heroes,” La Repubblica said of the audio recordings, in which the Coast Guard officer sternly tells the captain to speak up and asks him exactly how many passengers, particularly women and children, are still on board.

“For every Schettino, there is a De Falco, thank goodness,” said one message on Twitter.

Italy was just managing to repair its international image after the “bunga bunga” shenanigans of the Berlusconi era when its reputation was once more dragged through the mud, said an editorial in La Stampa newspaper.

“We’ve had two months to regain our honour in the eyes of the world,” said the paper, in reference to Mr Berlusconi’s resignation in November and his replacement by Mario Monti, a highly respected former European Commissioner, at the head of a straight-talking technocrat government.

“Two months to forget the worst of ourselves: the superficiality, the carelessness, the pomposity, the abdication of responsibility. And then, with a single nudge of the rudder, Capt Schettino has sunk our international reputation, along with his ship.

“We are once again the laughing stock of others. Let’s hope that not everything that they are saying about Schettino is true – even scapegoats need a break. But if only half of it is true, we are looking at a type of Italian that we cannot pretend not to recognise: more full of himself than sure of himself. One who does stupid things for the sake of having fun and seeks to hide them with the mantra ‘Everything’s OK, no problem.’"

The captain’s conduct has been vociferously condemned on social networking sites, with thousands mocking the fact that he was reportedly in a lifeboat before many of his passengers and crew.

On Facebook, more than 22,000 people have joined two groups that feature a doctored photograph of the 52-year-old as a pirate.

Many have expressed shame at the captain's actions, fearing the tragedy will tarnish Italy's name.

Others have set up groups declaring that Capt Schettino was a coward who had gambled with people's lives.

One message on Twitter described the leaked conversation between Capt Schettino and the coast guard official as a battle between a "villain and a hero".

Another tweet mocked him for falling "magically" into a life boat. “Do you want to go home, Schettino? It’s dark and you want to go home?”

The 52-year-old captain denied the allegations through his lawyer.

"The captain defended his role on the direction of the ship after the collision, which in the captain's opinion saved hundreds if not thousands of lives," Bruno Leporatti said. "The captain specified that he did not abandon ship."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Skagway Alaska on a Crew Salary

Hello, Readers, and thank you for tuning in to trumptettravels - the true accounts of my 11 year career on cruise ships as a crew member aboard Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, P&O Cruises, Premier Cruises and the Holland America Line.

On this blog I have a disorganized group of experiences from my 11 year career on cruise ships.  FInd out how to save money while in port or find out how crazy it is to be a crew member.  Sometimes a news story catches my eye and I throw it on here, too.  You can like this blog on Facebook or "follow me" on Google.  Stay in touch and when I start thinking of something REALLY great or funny - you'll hear about it first!

As a young, healthy person traveling to Alaska I would marvel at the people sitting on a train all day in Skagway. What a waste! Alaska is beautiful and rugged. If you are somewhat athletic here is the perfect day.

Have a nice breakfast on the ship (FREE) and go to the starbucks or local coffee shop for a real coffee. Stop by the park rangers office and tell them what you plan to do. Inquire about the trails and ask if you are prepared (of course I wouldn't do this but I DID do this the very first time.)

Take the hike up to lower dewey lake and walk halfway around.  If you are adventurous, go swimming near the dam (bring a towel if you are adventurous.)

By the time you get back down the hill it is lunch time.  There is a great Thai restaurant where all the crew members go. After lunch you can roam around and look at trinkets and then stop by the Red Onion for a few beers and a possible tour of an authentic Alaskan brothel.

You'll see more natural beauty, walk off some ship food, eat a great lunch and see soem of the town.  THere really isn't much else to do in Skagway and if you live like a crew member one day, you free up funds for something special like a sea plane or helicopter ride on another day!  Have fun in Alaska and let me know if you have any questions.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Look out for those gypsies in Europe!

Hello and welcome back to "TrumpetTravels" - my true accounts of my eleven year career working about the Princess, Carnival, Holland America, Cunard, Costa, P&O, Ocean Village and Royal Caribbean Cruise lines (and more cruises, I think!)

With so many amazing countries right off the gangway, Mediterranean cruises temp Americans who long to see the old world. Europeans have thousands of years' experience with art, architecture, philosophy, and scamming.

The Gypsies have populated touristic areas in popular cruise ports like Naples, Sardinia, Malaga, and basically any port of call on you Med. cruise.  You can usually spot them quite easily because they look like the stereotype of a Gypsie fortune teller - dark complexion, many layers of baggy clothing, 10 kids running around that look the same,  gold hoop jewelry, and a distinctive "hippy" look to the clothing.

There are a few scams ALL crew members know about.  When in doubt - ask your crew member friends about the safety in port.  They walk the streets every week and know where to walk and where not to.

In Malaga, Spain, look out for Gypsies giving you "un Regalo, un Regalo" (a gift.)  They give you a "free" branch that looks like Rosemary and press it in your hand.  If you don't give them money they curse you and you're supposed to pay them to remove the curse.

In Sardina the Gypsies have fake babies held by a fake arm. They cozy up to you.  They brush against you and with their real arm reach around and take your wallet.

In Italy (Naples, Florence, Rome) look out for kids with little toys (selling).  They run up to you with the tray of toys and run into.  All the toys fly up in the air and as the kids bump into you they reach around and grab your wallet.

In Naples immediately off the ship the same group of guys have been swindling tourists for centuries (not Gypsies).  They have expensive items - iPods, laptops, cameras, all for 60% off retail.  You test it, it works. When you fork over the cash, they give you the box, you get it back to the ship and inside is a bag of sand or a bottle of Evian.  Wouldn't you know EVERY DAY someone falls for that!?!? The police are never around.

With only 200 years of history the US and Americans are not as savvy as Europeans when it comes to scam artists.  Be logical. Be careful. Have fun and don't make any donations to the locals!

I hope I am able to make more posts soon but baby #2 is on the way soon for us.  I don't have as much time to dedicate to this blog as I would like. If you enjoyed this, read my older posts and share to your facebook wall!  Please feel free to link to my blog on forums or twitter/social media.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oh, The Crew Bar

Hello, Readers, and thank you for tuning in to trumptettravels - the true accounts of my 11 year career on cruise ships as a crew member aboard Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, P&O Cruises, Premier Cruises and the Holland America Line.

One of the top questions I always got on the cruise was about the crew quarters and the crew bar. People are always curious about how the bar works, if they can get in, etc...

Every ship that I've been on has been different but every ship has one thing in common: a crew bar. Sometimes there is an officers bar, too, but the crew need a place to have a drink and socialize and not have to put on a show for the passengers.

The crew bar is a great place because the ship is full of young, enthusiastic people with a mind open enough to want to be trapped on a ship with a bunch of foreigners!

WHe I first started on Royal Caribbean, the drinks were $.85 for a Budweiser! We used to buy rounds (4) with a five and leave the guy a buck and change!

Officer, staff, and crew are all equals in the crew bar, even though the officers may not think so! This is the place where you can chat about work, but most chat up girls, talk about music, what they are doing tomorrow and what they did that day. Most crew are pretty adventurous so there are usually some crazy stories.

The stories abound of the crew members who passed out in a passenger hallway, who defecated on a crew elevator, who ran naked down the I95 (main thoroughfare), and who in general did some crazy stuff with some crazy people. I remember at one party talking to the saxophone player and a 19 Steiner (salon worker) came up and started rubbing his crotch. With much enthusiasm! He played it cool and did not flinch, continuing his story until the girl got bored and left. I was thinking, "What an amazing place!!!"

After the crew bar, the kitchen staff are dutifully cooking croissants, breads, and if you're in good there's a few Indian cooking a curry somewhere. As a 20 year old drunked fool it is your moral obligation to raid these facilities and take your food to the staff mess where you chow everything down, assuring you will be sleeping in to 10am the next day.

Oh those were the days! THe best part is you never spend more than 10 dollars a night! They even have the same wines passengers drink from $7-25/bottle. Passengers will pay $22-80 for the same bottles!

Some ships have what they call on Princess CAMBUSA. This allows you to purchase items directly from the ship's storage. Cases of water for $8, bottles of Jack for $18 (1L!). This allows you to fully stock an entire bar in your cabin for pennies!

We used to have a pre-game party in the cabin, go "out" to a passengers area for a drink, then hit the crew bar for a decent session before retiring to an after party somewhere.

Life on the ship is crazy - many do not know how to pace themselves. That's why occaisionally you see people walking around like zombies - although they will never admit it to you!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Secret Beach in Hualtulco, Mexico

Hello and welcome to trumpettravels. This is the true account of how I toured the world for eleven years playing music and then later in a sales job. I worked as a crew member for almost all the cruise lines and have a great knowledge of the best ports, best restaurants, best things to do (for me, I guess) and how to wisely spend you money on a cruise ship.

For years cruise ships have been going to a sleepy little town on the Western Beach of Mexico called Hualtulco. I've been going there for years and I know the best beach to go to - if you are as adventurous as a crew member. Skip the tour in Hualtulco and shopping in Hualtulco - go to a free beach in Hualtulco!

View Larger Map

If you want to experience authentic Mexico, this is it. For years I had been going to Hualtulco and keeping a great secret to myself. I never told a single crew member or passenger of this secret beach because I never wanted to see anyone else there - and I never did see any other people there!

This beach is for the adventurous and the physically fit. If you are one of those cruisers with the oxygen tank on the back of your Hoveround please take a guided tour provided to you on the ship. There is significant climbing, briars, hills and brush.

The beach is Eastish facing which means in the pm the sun will be behind a hill so the am trips are best. The cruise pier is located right by the "A" on the Google Map provided here. You can see the penninsula of land to the east of the ships.

As you travel into Hualtulco, Mexico, on a ship you will be approaching the dock. As you are headed towards the (on the ship which is in the water, moving towards land) look to your right - there is a big hill with houses that runs parallel to the pier. You will need to get there.

Leaving the ship, you walk down the pier, though the terminal, to the road that runs perpendicular to the pier. Take a RIGHT on this road.

You will walk some distance and zooming in on the google map here you can see where you take the right and walk up the hill, sort of doubling back. Walking ALL the way to the end of the road you will come to some pretty grand estates - people from Mexico city have some beautiful homes there. At the last home at the end of the street there is a fence enclosing the property and you can walk along the fence, down the hill (on the side of the ship). At one point you reach the narrowest section of the penninsula and it will be clear when to take the left to go down to the water. There is a beautiful private beach there and I've never seen another soul there! Very relaxing!

Let me know if you have any questions and I'll try to help any way I can if you're trying to find that beach.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Alone and Homeless in the Med: Part 8

Hello and welcome back to "TrumpetTravels" - my true accounts of my eleven year career working about the Princess, Carnival, Holland America, Cunard, Costa, P&O, Ocean Village and Royal Caribbean Cruise lines (and more cruises, I think!)

I want to continue my "Alone and Homeless in the Med" story. This is part 7 - click here to start from the beginning: Crew Member Abandoned in Europe. It is worth it to start from the beginning and over the next week I hope to put some links in this story so you can read chronilogically while skipping some of the unrelated blog posts in between stories.

My last blog post saw me at Jim Morrison's grave and staying at the Aloha hostel in Paris - a known English speaking youth hostel.

The clock was ticking and I was scheduled to join Royal Caribbean's "Legend of the Seas" for the summer. The join date was only in a few days, but I didn't want to go back to Barcelona.  The internet was in its infancy and there was no easy online hotel system set up yet. I looked at a map and saw a somewhat sizable dot called "Tarragona." I booked my train ticket there.

Arriving in Tarragona at around lunch time I went to the "city" center and searched for a hotel. I found one on top of a bar that said "abierto" but no one was there.  I went to the downstairs bar (a different business) and asked about the hotel and the owner of the hotel was there.

She made a big deal that it was lunch time and she wasn't working and I couldn't check in.  I begged her to help me out which she reluctantly did.  The room was adequate - quite small but cozy.  It seemed like it was decorated by someone's grandmother 20 years prior.

Later that night I came back from wandering around and when I turned on the light I saw some cockroaches scatter.  At that point I was happy to have a bed and just didn't care!

After checking in I roamed around the city and saw the Roman amphitheater, a few nice churches, the usual.  I found a beautiful local restaurant on the sea and was starving.  I asked for a recommendation or a special and ended up with a huge local seafood feast. I stayed a while in the empty restaurant.  Nobody eats dinner at 6pm in Spain!

The next day was the day I was joining the ship.  After 10 days I had survived Europe!  I left early in the morning but I couldn't join the ship until the afternoon.  I started walking north.  The train tracks to Barcelona ran parallel to the sea so at any town I could grab the train anywhere along the way.

I just walked along the sidewalk that was near the water glad that I was going to civilization that day. It was difficult to be in these countries not speaking the language and I was still suffering the effects of sleeping in the bushes a little bit.

Around lunch (10:30am since I was up so early) I was tired of walking for a few hours and went and bought a loaf of bread and some meats and cheeses (don't ask me which ones - I just pointed!)  I made a big sandwich and wrapped it up. I kept walking North towards Barcelona wanting to eat on the beach.  I was walking up a small hill and to my right noticed a little path that went down about a 120 foot cliff to a beach.

As I partly slid down the path I realized the beach was completely empty and gorgeous!  I went to find the perfect spot to sleep a little bit and eat my sandwich.  As I walked a little bit on the beach I noticed four people - completely nude!  I didn't really care and wanted to give them their privacy so I turned around and found a nice spot.  Shortly after I arrived I guess I ruined their spot and they clothed and left.  For the next few hours I went swimming and ate and slept and enjoyed myself on my private beach.

Finally I realized the clock was ticking and I got dressed, gathered everything up.  I went back up the cliff and walked about 15 minutes to a train station bound for Barcelona.  I got out and took the subway to the Lladro shop where I had all my luggage and trumpet and everything was in perfect condition.

Boarding the ship with a few hundred dollars less than when I left the Splendour of the Seas I was worn down, tired, probably didn't smell great, too!  Those two nights without a hotel were hopefully the worst I'll experience in my life but the trip gave me some amazing photographs and memories that will last me a lifetime.

As I clock in my desk job every day I look around and realize no one I know has really done anything that crazy and I'm grateful for my 10 days I spent Homeless in the Mediterranean.

Thank you, readers for staying tuned to my series of stories entitled "Homeless in the Med."  If you missed my other posts you can click on the link at the beginning of this post.  Don't forget to "like" me on facebook to share this story with your friends and to follow my future posts.  Also, this blog is reader supported so feel free to click on one of the sponsors on my blog.  Your support is appreciated!