Are cruise ships jinxed?

Are cruise ships jinxed?

jinxed (adjective): having or believed to bring bad luck — Cambridge Dictionary

The series of unfortunate incidents on board cruise ships never seems to end. The mishaps range from breakouts of disease and drunken brawls to missing passengers and murder. The superstitious may be tempted to believe that a spirit of bad luck lurks on the decks and in the cabins to spoil a fun-filled vacation at sea.

But what can one expect when thousands of people, mostly strangers to one another, are crammed into these floating hotels-cum-shopping malls? Yet, many still go on cruises. They want to party and to celebrate life against the backdrop of a beautiful blue sea, unmindful of the mishaps that frequently occur on board. Consider some of the horrifying stories which were reported during the period March–May 2023:

Read the full story here.

Read the full story here.

Read the full story here.

Read the full story here.

Read the full story here.

Read the full story here.

Such incidents are not isolated. They have been happening way too often and for too long. Indeed, the magnitude of the problem led to the formation in 2006 of International Cruise Victims, a group that shares stories of survivors of tragic events aboard cruise ships and advocates greater safety in the cruise sector. Click here to visit their website.

To say that cruise ships are jinxed would be to brush aside the sins of their operators. The awful events that cruise passengers experience or witness are not the result of chance. They are due to the failings of an industry that seems to value money more than passenger safety and health. So much for the fun and adventure promised in the adverts.

~ Barista Uno

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10 historic American naval battles memorialized in art

10 historic American naval battles memorialized in art

10 historic American naval battles memorialized in art

There is nothing beautiful about war. It is savage and nasty. For some reason, however, art depicting naval battles has a strong power to attract viewers. The chaotic scenes of smoke and fire as ships and men try to destroy each other are certainly dramatic. Some may even think them beautiful.

The following works of art feature 10 historic battles involving American naval forces. Click on the images to magnify them.

Hurrah! Hurrah! For ev’ry Yankee tar

— line from ‘You’re a Grand Old Flag’ an American patriotic march song

Destruction of HMS Augusta in the Delaware River, 23 October 1777
Oil painting by unidentified naval officer, circa 1977
Courtesy of US Naval History and Heritage Command

The Augusta was destroyed by fire and powder magazine explosion off Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania, during an engagement with American forces. (Naval History and Heritage Command)

Battle of Boston Harbor, USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon
Layered reverse glass painting, circa 1820
Isiah Whyte (American, 19th century)
Courtesy of Vallejo Gallery, California

The capture of USS Chesapeake, also known as the Battle of Boston Harbor, was fought on 1 June 1813, between the Royal Navy frigate HMS Shannon and the United States Navy frigate USS Chesapeake, as part of the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom. (Wikipedia)

The Battle of the USS Kearsarge and the CSS Alabama
Oil on canvas, 1864
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Manet’s first known seascape is an imaginative depiction of an American Civil War naval battle fought off the coast of France, near Cherbourg, on June 19, 1864. In the distance, the C.S.S. Alabama, a scourge of Union shipping, sinks by her stern, clouds of smoke arising from a direct hit to her engines by the U.S.S. Kearsarge, which is mostly obscured from view. (Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Perry’s Famous Victory on Lake Erie War 1812
Curt Teich postcard, 1924
Courtesy of CARLI Digital Collections, Illinois

Battle of Lake Erie, (Sept. 10, 1813), major U.S. naval victory in the War of 1812, ensuring U.S. control over Lake Erie and precluding any territorial cession in the Northwest to Great Britain in the peace settlement. (Britannica)

Battle of Mobile Bay
Oil on linen, 1886
Julian Oliver Davidson (American, 1853–1894)
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Battle of Mobile Bay (5–23 August 1864), naval engagement of the American Civil War during which Union Admiral David Farragut succeeded in sealing off the port of Mobile, Alabama, from Confederate blockade runners. (Britannica)

Capture of the Tripoli by the Enterprise
Oil on canvas, c. 1806–1812
Thomas Birch (Engligh-born American, (1779 – 1851)
Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

At the turn of the 19th century, conflict arose between the United States of America and the North African Barbary State of Tripoli. President Thomas Jefferson refused to continue to pay tribute or ransom to Tripoli to prevent the pirating of American merchant ships sailing in the Mediterranean Sea. Jefferson dispatched the American ship Enterprise to the Tripolitan waters as a sign of resistance just as Tripoli increased its tribute demands and declared war against the United States. (Art Institute of Chicago)

USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere
Oil on canvas, c. 1960
Anton Otto Fischer (German-born American, 1882–1962)
Courtesy of the US Naval History and Heritage Command

USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere was a battle between an American and British ship during the War of 1812, about 400 miles (640 km) southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Wikipedia)

Capture of the American Frigate South Carolina by the British ship Diomede and Frigates Quebec and Astrea
Watercolour, 1782
Artist unknown
Courtesy of the National Archives of Canada via Wikimedia Commons

The Battle of the Delaware Capes or the 3rd Battle of Delaware Bay was a naval engagement that was fought off the Delaware River towards the end of the American Revolutionary War. The battle took place on 20 and 21 December 1782, some three weeks after the signing of the preliminary articles of peace between Great Britain and the former American colonies. It was an engagement between three British Royal Navy frigates HMS Diomede, Quebec and Astraea on the one side, and the South Carolina Navy’s 40-gun frigate South Carolina, the brigs Hope and Constance, and the schooner Seagrove on the other. The British were victorious, with only Seagrove escaping capture. (Wikipedia)


Batalla de Santiago de Cuba
Ildefonso Sanz Doménech (1863-1937)
Courtesy of Benjamín Núñez González
Creative Commons licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Battle of Santiago de Cuba, (July 3, 1898), concluding naval engagement, near Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, of the Spanish-American War, which sealed the U.S. victory over the Spaniards. (Britannica)

The great naval battle off Gavite (Manila) fought May 1st, 1898, 5:30 A.M. till 12:50 P.M. (noon)
Lithograph by unidentified artist
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

At top centre of the print is a vignette of Admiral George Dewey, US naval commander who defeated the Spanish fleet.

The charm of steamboats in century-old postcards

The charm of steamboats in century-old postcards

Their whistles have long fallen silent. The smokes from their funnels are no more. Yet, the charm of steamboats that inspired such wonderful songs as Steamboat Bill and Lazy ‘Sippi Steamer lives on in old postcards. Some of these postcards, like the ones pictured below, are more than a century old but the beauty of the steamers they depict still shines through.

The vast reach of plank wharves remained unchanged, and there were as many ships as ever: but the long array of steamboats had vanished; not altogether, of course, but not much of it was left.

— Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi

Click on the images to magnify them.

Excursion Boats At The Foot Of Jackson Street
Postcard from 1909
Courtesy of Joe Haupt on Flickr
Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 licence

SS Eastland
Postcard from 1909
Courtesy of Digital Transportation Archive / Internet Archive

Steamboat Norrtelje
Postcard from 1900
Courtesy of DigitaltMuseum, Norway/Sweden

Steamer Columbia
Postcard from circa 1908
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

Steamer City of Mackinac in Sainte Claire canal
Postcard from circa 1912
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

Burma — Waiting for the Steamer
Postcard from 1903
Artwork by Robert Talbot Kelly (English, 1861–1934)
Courtesy of The Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois

Through Lake Baikal, Russia
Postcard from 1899
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

Steamer City of Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida
Postcard from 1906
Courtesy of University of North Florida Digital Commons

Watching the pelicans from steamers Favorite and Manatee – Saint Petersburg, Florida
Postcard from circa 1914
Courtesy of the State Library and Archives of Florida

~ Barista Uno

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Gender muddle: “female” or “woman” ship captain?

Gender muddle: “female” or “woman” ship captain?

It should not matter whether one uses “female” or “woman” as an adjective for a ship captain or some other person. Both are grammatically correct. But in this age of political correctness and fragile sensitivities, some rabid feminists may object to the use of “female” as exemplified in this headline of a CBS News story:

The objectors would argue that the adjective “female” draws too much attention to the reproductive system (read this article from The New Yorker: ‘Female Trouble: The Debate Over “Woman” as an Adjective’). It is somehow debasing. They would insist on using “woman” as in this Forbes story headline:

Needless nitpicking

As defined in any English dictionary, a woman is an adult female human being. The adjective “female” means having the attributes of a woman, which typically includes the capacity to bear young. Today, however, biological sex is no longer synonymous with gender identity. An individual can choose to be identified as a male or a female.

But why even emphasise the sex or gender of a ship captain? The answer is simple. Although more and more women can be seen behind a ship’s helm, they remain a relatively small tribe in a male-dominated industry. Their sex or gender is worth mentioning. To call them “female ship captains” or “women ship captains” really makes no difference. Both descriptions are a testament to their struggles and achievements as professional women.

~ Barista Uno

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US maritime heritage embedded in state seals

US maritime heritage embedded in state seals

The United States ranked no. 11 in the 2022 UNCTAD table of countries with the largest fleets in terms of carrying capacity (deadweight tonnes). It was way below the top three fleet owners — Greece, China and Japan. Nonetheless, Americans can take pride in having an enviable maritime heritage and preserving and keeping it alive in their art, music and literature. That legacy is even embedded in the official seals of 13 states.

The following state seals incorporate ships and other images associated with shipping. Click on each image for a larger view.














~ Barista Uno

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