Now you're John Hammond.
June 3, 2019 9:06 PM   Subscribe

Incredible footage shot from cruise ship MSC Opera as it slams into dock in Venice, Italy yesterday. According to France24,
A cruise ship lost control as it was coming in to dock in Venice Sunday, crashing into the wharf and hitting a tourist boat, Italian media reported.
Tourists on land could be seen running away as the MSC Opera scraped along the dockside, its engine blaring, before knocking into the Michelangelo tourist boat, amateur video footage posted on Twitter showed.
Two people were lightly injured in the accident at San Basilio-Zattere in the Venice's Giudecca Canal, according to the media reports.
Another two were taken to hospital for check-ups. Their nationalities were not known, the reports said.
The crash may have happened after a cable used to link cruise ships to the tug boats that pull them into the city's canals broke, the Corriere della Sera daily said.
The Opera was then unable to stop because of the strong currents pulling it towards the dock, it said.
MSC Cruises, founded in Italy in 1960, is a global line registered in Switzerland and based in Geneva. The Opera, built 15 years ago, is registered in Panama and has a capacity for 2,679 passengers.
No dinosaurs were reported missing or escaped.
posted by scalefree (58 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
These things happen. A couple of summers ago this occurred about two blocks from my house. Video is not any better than the video in the main write-up but I do appreciate this dialogue snippet:
Person 1: Yeah they are coming in hot.
Person 2: Why are all those people running?
Person 1: Uhhh...
You'd be shocked (or maybe you wouldn't) how much damage can be inflicted in a very short time.
posted by Nerd of the North at 9:33 PM on June 3, 2019 [10 favorites]

Two more videos with different angles on the incident: 1 2.

It pretty amazing that with all that mass moving towards the dock and another ship, that there were not even more damage and injuries.
posted by flug at 9:35 PM on June 3, 2019 [6 favorites]

Jesus. It's that last video, #2, that gives me the heebie jeebies. You can see a crewman frantically pulling people down the gangway of the ferry boat as the big ship bears down. That man is an absolute hero, he deserves not to have to work a single day for the rest of his life unless he wants to.
posted by scalefree at 9:49 PM on June 3, 2019 [17 favorites]

Two more videos with different angles on the incident

Jesus, that second one is terrifying.

It's not even a week since something somewhat similar happened in Budapest and at least 9 people on the boat that got hit by the cruise ship died (with 19 still missing 6 days later), so it's definitely lucky that this one didn't end up being too destructive after all.
posted by Copronymus at 9:50 PM on June 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

You're doing it wrong!!!
posted by neon909 at 10:03 PM on June 3, 2019

It looks like at least two people trying to escape to the dock didn't make it and went into the water instead, I'm amazed they didn't get killed/drowned by the big ship running over them.
posted by tavella at 10:04 PM on June 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Press is saying 4 injuries, 2 requiring hospitalization. All very very lucky.
posted by scalefree at 10:17 PM on June 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Cruise ships are a horridly exploitative industry in multiple ways. I hope the injured elderly ladies sue the company and win big. The industry itself needs reform and they're not going to change themselves.
posted by polymodus at 10:32 PM on June 3, 2019 [8 favorites]

posted by thegirlwiththehat at 10:41 PM on June 3, 2019 [15 favorites]

The tugboat company confirmed that the ship had its motors blocked on thrust, snapping the cables of one of its pilot boats. Pretty much a miracle nothing worse happened.
posted by progosk at 11:03 PM on June 3, 2019

This reminds me of the Bright Field, a cargo vessel that lost power in New Orleans during the mid-90s and rammed straight into the Riverwalk mall. Took out the Gap and a bunch of other stores. I don't think anyone was killed. But that was a day my dad was out Christmas shopping and his phone battery died. I couldn't get a hold of him for hours. I was scared out of my mind.
posted by brundlefly at 11:58 PM on June 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

Banksy just put this up in Venice 10 days ago.
posted by benoliver999 at 12:22 AM on June 4, 2019 [9 favorites]

Inertia is a hell of a drug.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:26 AM on June 4, 2019 [13 favorites]

The city's basically being held to ransom by the cruise companies. By current estimates, they bring 10 million day-shoppers per year, propping up local businesses, one of Venice's last active resources. So you can imagine how loath the administration is to get serious about taxing this "income". (A recently introduced "shore tax" - similar to the traditional small "tourist fee" that you'll find on your hotel bill pretty much anywhere in Italy - has yet to be actually set and charged.) Diverting the ships' route is also fraught with issues, and obviously the companies will insist on the most attractive ones.

As art's mirror lucidly shows (Berengo Gardin / Banksy / neo-Canaletto): turns out mass tourism is another part of the extractive economy that's shoring up our collective wendigo...
posted by progosk at 12:27 AM on June 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

It would have been better had it crashed into a building, prompting an outcry loud enough to ban these ships from Venice permanently.

Sadly, money.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:36 AM on June 4, 2019

they bring 10 million day-shoppers per year

Err corr: 1.5 million cruise tourists (nearly 600 ships, with around 2500 passengers each) - the rest of that 10 million daily tourists per year figure is non-cruise.

posted by progosk at 12:49 AM on June 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

Off topic: Why am I John Hammond? Am I John Hammond the blues archivist and preservationist, or his son, John Hammond Jr, the blues singer? Or some completely different John Hammond, whom I don't know anything about?

If I have a choice, I'd prefer to be the singer.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:33 AM on June 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

My impression is that Venice really does not need to prop up its visitor numbers, and that cruise visitors are particularly unhelpful. The ships fuck up the view and fill the place with acrid smoke, while the tourists pay no hotel bills, eat all their meals on board and simply make the queues and crowding worse for the more profitable tourists. You might sell them a fridge magnet, but it hardly compensates.

posted by Segundus at 1:47 AM on June 4, 2019 [14 favorites]

For all you non-boat owners out there, these videos clearly illustrate the seamanship maxim “never approach a dock faster than you intend to hit it.”
posted by TedW at 1:55 AM on June 4, 2019 [39 favorites]

Off topic: Why am I John Hammond?

It's a key line from the 2nd Jurassic Park movie. Jeff Goldblum's character says it to the nephew of the park's creator just after a ship carrying a T-Rex crashes into a harbor in San Diego, unleashing the dino on an American city. Earlier he had taunted the guy saying he's not fit to carry Hammond's legacy, that he's no John Hammond. Here's the whole scene.
posted by scalefree at 2:16 AM on June 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

OK, but who is the John Hammond Goldblum is referring to?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:23 AM on June 4, 2019

The guy who created Jurassic Park. It was his vision but also ultimately his responsibility when everything went horribly awry in the first movie. Goldblum is saying now that the T-Rex ate the crew of the ship & is now rampaging into San Diego, Hammond's nephew is his equal in creating chaos. He's like his uncle but in a bad way not a good one.
posted by scalefree at 2:35 AM on June 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

You want more than that, see the movies.
posted by scalefree at 2:42 AM on June 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

The shaky anxiety in the woman’s voice was making me shake. Probably exacerbated by their Aussie accents, I’m Aussie too and it was too familiar. Horrifying watching everyone run, i was thinking about parents with little kids there to watch the boats - it’s amazing people weren’t killed. Boats shouldn’t be that big in crowded places.
posted by kitten magic at 3:33 AM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Jeez, that tourist boat could’ve been crushed and pulled under trapping hundreds, this was a very, very lucky escape.
posted by kitten magic at 3:40 AM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ships really are awesome
posted by AnhydrousLove at 3:54 AM on June 4, 2019

Way to spoil the ending of Speed II Cruise Control.
posted by Richard Saunders at 4:40 AM on June 4, 2019 [10 favorites]

With regard to air pollution, it is tempting to imagine something like "sure - cruise ships have big engines - but they also carry lots of passengers - so they can't be that bad". However, the levels of pollution - even from ships not using the lower grade bunker fuel (forbidden since 2012) - is phenomenal. Enough to cause a large number of extra deaths to those living near Venice - and incidentally also enough to give passengers on deck an air quality experience equivalent to living in one of the worlds most polluted cities - a level equivalent to emissions from up to a million cars. Europe-wide ship pollution is estimated to cause 50,0000 premature deaths per year with a cost to society of €58 billion - effects which are felt particularly strongly in the Mediterranean region.

Which is a hell of a price to pay for the sale of a few fridge magnets.
posted by rongorongo at 5:14 AM on June 4, 2019 [15 favorites]

I think it's during Masterpiece on PBS where there's a sponsorship blurb about Holland-America Lines, and one of the shots is this enormous liner cruising into Venice. It's a long shot, with Venice in the foreground and the ship in the background, but the ship utterly dwarfs the buildings of Venice. It's like some giant mecha stalking up to the city. It's actually kind of terrifying.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:17 AM on June 4, 2019 [6 favorites]

I don't know guys, maybe that was the cruise ship's parking spot, maybe the small boat is the asshole here.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 5:49 AM on June 4, 2019 [8 favorites]

You can study How to Avoid Huge Ships all you like, but it won’t help if they won’t even try to avoid you.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:54 AM on June 4, 2019 [18 favorites]

My mother-in-law took us on a cruise at the beginning of the year, the first vacation more than a long weekend I’ve had for a decade and all expenses paid so even though a cruise ship is my last choice for a trip, I went and it was relaxing (but felt morally wrong).

Anyway, this is all to say that Google News got wind of this trip and started serving me constant news stories about these kind of cruise ship mishaps from the “Cruise Law News” blog. And I always click on them because I find the whole website fascinating; it’s run by one lawyer who fucking hates cruises and that’s kind of funny but also for sure justified. You can see from the story at the link I put above that this isn’t the first cruise ship to crash into a pier in Venice and also that he has this filed under pollution.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 6:02 AM on June 4, 2019 [10 favorites]

I’m Aussie too and it was too familiar

Ah, Venice! Where "stop the boats" is more than a slogan.
posted by flabdablet at 6:25 AM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

These things happen.

Well, until you stop these things happening, THIS thing does NOT HAPPEN.

I'm enjoying all the links and context this thread is bringing me. Routine Best of Metafilter stuff. I'm so glad no one died.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:49 AM on June 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh, yeah- that'll totally buff out.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:57 AM on June 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

It's like Speed 2 in slow motion!
posted by rikschell at 7:30 AM on June 4, 2019

How has anyone not yet mentioned Harris Burdick
posted by deadbilly at 7:33 AM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

> You can study How to Avoid Huge Ships all you like

For the uninitiated I'm compelled to point out that this is one of the all-time greatest book covers.

Count me as another on team Amazed Nobody Died. I couldn't see any mooring lines for the smaller boat but I was 100% expecting to see 1" lines snapping and/or flinging giant metal cleats across the dock. I guess they were either holding themselves on with thrusters or someone else deserves a medal for throwing the lines when they saw the other ship coming in so fast.
posted by range at 7:36 AM on June 4, 2019 [8 favorites]

It's like some giant mecha stalking up to the city. It's actually kind of terrifying.

I spend a fair amount of time in Charleston, SC with friends and family and when the cruise ships are in port, it's basically like the scene from any alien invasion movie where the giant spaceship dwarfs the skyline and haflway blots out the sky and the shadow falls like, end is nigh, humans times. And it's basically inescapable. In an historic port city (even one with Venice-style monumental spaces) you're not going to get higher than a cruise ship. I remember a couple years ago sitting at the rooftop bar of a fancy hotel a couple of short blocks up from Charleston harbor and listening as the people at the table beside us complained about the blocked view in this, I paid good money for this room and this is what I look at? spiel. The maitre d managed to keep his cool, but I felt for him. I grew up in resort town, plagued with tourists who barely propped up a feast/famine local economy that barely supported its population (all of this is still true) and generally left nothing behind but litter and bad tips. The only thing that would have made summer/leaf season there worse if is they arrived daily by the ten thousands out of monster ships that killed the view. Or to put another way, if you have the misfortune of living in a tourist town, I guess it's better to be inland.
posted by thivaia at 7:40 AM on June 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

...started serving me constant news stories about these kind of cruise ship mishaps from the “Cruise Law News” blog

Thank you for sharing! I hate cruises with the passion of 10,000 fiery suns. My parents are hooked on them (they go on about 3 a year because they are hooked on being cared for as infants) and as a teen and young adult I was forced onto several, and then again for a Big Birthday with my extended family a few years ago, a cruise that will hopefully be my last.

Here's the story I tell, of dozens, for why I am a hater. On our last cruise, my then-5 year old was getting into line for the pasta bar when he was literally pushed over by someone who wanted to get ahead of him for pasta. On a cruise with literally 24/7 mounds and mounds food available, and endless wasteful buffets, he was pushed over for noodles. This was not unusual behaviour either. What is wrong with people. Wall-E had it right.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:47 AM on June 4, 2019 [13 favorites]

I don't know guys, maybe that was the cruise ship's parking spot, maybe the small boat is the asshole here.

That cruise ship spent hours shoveling out the spot and put down a chair - the spot is legally its property now.
posted by bowmaniac at 7:55 AM on June 4, 2019 [7 favorites]

> It's like Speed 2 in slow motion!

Is there anything to be said for saying another mass?
posted by Poldo at 8:03 AM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Routine Best of Metafilter stuff.

Still waiting for some casually relevant DFW ref, actually...
posted by progosk at 8:10 AM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not to derail this thread, but a lot of passengers and crew go overboard on cruise ships. Far more than I would have imagined/expected.
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 8:24 AM on June 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

Inertia is a hell of a drug.
Hell of a trivia question too,
posted by notsnot at 9:04 AM on June 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

Man, fuck cruise ships and most of the people who travel on them. Oh dear, I feel one of my rants coming on.

I've lived in a number of towns and cities serviced by cruise ships and above and beyond all of the reasons listed above about cruise ships being extremely exploitative, highly polluting and bad corporate citizens in general - the people they unleash on their port calls are some of the most uniformly horrible, dullest, most unpleasant and generally most useless people I've ever had the displeasure of meeting.

In Seattle the megaships would dock and disgorge thousands of passengers all at once. I'd be trying to get groceries or something in the middle of a weekday and Pike Place would go from mostly empty to packed to the rafters with Wall-E extras.

In smaller towns it's even worse. I live in a small historical port town and we have a regular summer cruise that docks, and that ship might have a capacity of about 300-500ish, which is a sizeable fraction of the town's entire population and definitely a major fraction of the number of people actually in town or working at any given time.

The non-profit I was working at last summer would sometimes have dozens of these cruise ship patrons wander in all at the same time, and invariably they'd stand there for as much as ten minutes just trying to figure out what we were and staring at the menu board like they had never even heard of a coffee shop before.

Then they'd ask if we had a menu or something while standing there staring right at that menu board.

It wasn't just this pervasive dumbness, it was how incredibly rude and disconnected they were about their own cluelessness. Greeting them as a customer or saying hello would elicit no response until they felt ready to speak to the help and further treating them as less than a robot. Hell, they'd probably light up and be all smiles if they had to talk to a robot or someone in a dumb robot costume, because entertainment!

And then they'd get all pissy and outraged when I'd put on my best customer service deathmask and happily explain what we were all about, that we were a non-profit, they were looking right at our menu and further we were right in the middle of doing job training and an educational program and the whole pitch.

Like they'd literally get outraged that we weren't a fucking Starbuck's or a sit down restaurant with table service, all while giving a whole lot of stink-eye to our trainees, local youth and anything or anyone they didn't like, which was basically the whole place and everyone in it.

Yo, there's the door. It's the same one you voluntarily walked in, and you should figure out how to walk back out, like, right now. Oh, no, you're going to ask more dumb questions. No, I'm not making you a sandwich. Do you even see sandwiches on that menu board? Do you see a sandwich station or anything even resembling sandwich ingredients? No, the customer isn't always right, and besides you're not even a customer! GTFO!

I did some thinking about it, and near as I can figure they get stuck in this cruise ship mentality where they're being catered to endlessly while on board, and wherever they land they're treating the local city, people and establishments as part of that package and taking that mentality with them on shore and arrogantly assuming the entire city is there to similarly cater to them, like we're all just Disney castmembers waiting for them to show up so we can get to work just for them. Like we only exist as a cruise ship port of call and we're just waiting for them to show up.

Another thing that I see that seems to hold true is that cruise ship patrons don't spend much money at their ports of call. "All inclusive" cruise ship packages seem to be the norm these days, and so if all of their meals and entertainment on board are free, why should they spend any appreciable money in a port of call? Why shouldn't they treat the town they land in the same way they've been treating the cruise ship and staff all week?

It's bloody infuriating, I tell you!

Somewhat redacted rant: Plan "B Ark" as inspired by Douglas Adams. All cruise ships are now routed to Bikini Atoll and left there, full of cruise ship patrons. Walmart goes bankrupt, so does Chick-fil-A and Disneyland. SUV sales plummet. Entire corporations find that their HR, sales and marketing departments are suddenly left unstaffed, with no new hires to be found. The entire planet now has a fighting chance to not end up like Wall-E and Idiocracy.

Well, for about a hundred years, until the kaiju-sized cruise ship patrons appear, shambling out of the water and start fighting over souvenir T-shirts and fridge magnets, at which point we will have to don jaeger suits to work a strategic buffet line the size of an aircraft carrier.
posted by loquacious at 10:33 AM on June 4, 2019 [23 favorites]

More Cruise ship shit - literally.
posted by adamvasco at 11:55 AM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Well, I like going on cruises, and I'm not taking any of you grumpypants with me.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:01 PM on June 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

It would've been even cooler if the cruise ship was playing "Seven Nation Army."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:45 PM on June 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

We stopped in tiny Bar Harbor, Maine, last weekend for some (excellent!) ice cream after a visit to Acadia National Park (which, by the way is goddamn gorgeous).

I drove at a crawl through the jaywalking crowds of ice cream-eaters and t-shirt shoppers and bored kids, when one of the Scouts in my car gasped: there was a cruise ship in the tiny sliver of harbor which was SO DAMN TALL that it looked like a tethered zeppelin.

There isn't a pier big enough for it so they ran smaller boats out to it. I mean just look at these images -- and they're the ones that the Chamber of Commerce chose, presumably to make thing look least out of place:

Good grief, is nothing safe from these horrible, polluting, staff-abusing, fuel-guzzling, gut-busting monsters?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:06 PM on June 4, 2019

Well, I like going on cruises, and I'm not taking any of you grumpypants with me.

Hey, have you ever given any thought to the exciting benefits of a life of high seas piracy?
posted by loquacious at 2:46 PM on June 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

Rant aside, I would consider a nature-focused cruise on a smaller boat that had a really good ecological pedigree and didn't burn bunker fuel and dump septic tanks and all that gross stuff. Perhaps something with a purpose and focus like an astronomy or photography tour. Those ads in the back of The Smithsonian or National Geographic always seemed appealing to me as a kid, but then I figured how much they cost and I about had an actual heart attack and I was only twelve.

I remember doing the mental math and immediately thinking "Holy crap, I could buy a sailboat for that much! And a really good bike, and maybe a telescope!"
posted by loquacious at 2:53 PM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I took one of those sailing-ship jaunts around Bar Harbor when a cruise ship was parked in it, and boy did it change the whole experience. I highly recommend the sailing thing, by the way. There's a big steel-hulled ship with red sails that holds a lot of people, but I'd recommend any of the smaller vessels; you get a more intimate, hands-on experience on them.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:28 PM on June 4, 2019

I've been saying it for years: Getting on a cruise ship is like being physically trapped inside of Facebook for 10 days.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:50 PM on June 4, 2019 [16 favorites]

A redditor comments: "These mother fuckers. They did this a year ago in Honduras. Video here. Lots of damage to the pier and cost the local tourism millions in lost revenue. MSC can go to hell."
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:21 PM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

>You can see a crewman frantically pulling people down the gangway of the ferry boat as the big ship bears down.

>It looks like at least two people trying to escape to the dock didn't make it and went into the water instead

I confess I didn't even see that myself when I posted it, even though I'd watched the video a few times. There is a lot going on.

But if you watch the gangway--the little bridge between the small ship and the dock--there is a crew member there literally yanking passengers down the gangway and onto the dock. Then at the very last moment he jumps onto the dock also.

When the smaller ship is ripped away from the dock there are two people (passengers, it looks like) just starting to cross it and as the gangway angles downwards violently it almost looks like they are thrown into the water. But if you look carefully at least one, and perhaps both, are actually huddled at the end of the gangway, holding onto the railing.

At that point, another crew member from inside the ship is trying to come down the gangway to help them back up--even though the gangway is dangling precariously from the ship at that point, and the cruise ship is bearing down on them and basically scraping along that side of the small ship. But then the video starts moving around and you can't see for sure what happens.

If they did fall off the end of the gangway, that is literally the last place you'd like to be, with an out-of-control cruise ship bearing down on that exact spot. It looks to me, though, as though they both clung to the gangway and probably made it back to the small ship OK.

You can see why people were desperate to get off that ship & help people off it, though. If it had gone down just a little bit different, that large ship could easily have seriously damaged or sunk the smaller ship, similar to what went down in the Budapest collision. It's only luck that it didn't, and if it had gone that way, anyone on that smaller ship would have been in serious straits.
posted by flug at 6:58 PM on June 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

How is nobody talking about the glorious Australian sense of humour on display here:

WIFE: “Are you kidding me?” CAMERAMAN: “...No.”

WIFE: “What’s happened?” HUSBAND: “I’ve got no idea what’s happened.”

CAMERAMAN: “Well what happened is the dickhead steering the boat didn’t steer it right.”
posted by Verg at 1:41 PM on June 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

> Off topic: Why am I John Hammond?

I would've gone with Richard, if we're choosing Hammonds.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:01 PM on June 9, 2019

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