Cruise ship accident cuts short Pikesville couple's vacation

They were among 240 who were injured when the Crown Princess tilted violently

July 21, 2006|By LIZ F. KAY | LIZ F. KAY,SUN REPORTER

The photos from Emanuel and Janice Perlman's latest vacation are a little different from shots they took during other cruises.

Along with photos of them smiling in tropical ports of call, they've got images of the medical triage area outside their stateroom and vans lined up to whisk passengers to the airport when the cruise was cut short.

"We couldn't believe what we were seeing outside our window," Emanuel Perlman said at his Pikesville home yesterday.

The couple were among about 240 passengers who were injured aboard the Crown Princess when the cruise ship suddenly tilted to starboard Tuesday afternoon, about an hour and a half after leaving Port Canaveral, Fla., on the last leg of a nine-day trip.

"This was The Poseidon Adventure in real life," Emanuel Perlman said.

The ship returned to Port Canaveral, where passengers were treated onboard for fractures, bruises and scrapes. More than 90 were taken to hospitals for evaluation and further treatment, according to a news release Wednesday from Princess Cruises, the ship's operator. The cause of the incident is being investigated, the company said.

Yesterday, the Crown Princess set off for Brooklyn, N.Y., where the cruise began, after the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board gave it clearance to sail, the company said yesterday.

The Perlmans were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary and taking their sixth cruise together in three years, said Emanuel Perlman, 53. The ship, which had traveled through the Caribbean, set out from Port Canaveral about 2 p.m. en route to Brooklyn, its final destination.

About 3 p.m., Janice Perlman, 54, went up to the ship's top deck for a health lecture in the spa. Her husband said he settled on the bed in their cabin to catch up on events in the Middle East on CNN.

Suddenly, he was thrown straight up into the air. Then, the ship tilted and he hit a desk and found himself standing on the cabin door.

"How do you get out of a door that's under your feet?" he said.

The captain made an announcement to calm the passengers, but emotion was evident in his voice, Emanuel Perlman said.

"I figured it was over. I thought we were dead already," he said, recalling that he prayed for his three adult sons and made his final confession.

Then the ship righted itself and the phone rang. It was his wife.

The lecture had been canceled, and she had been walking along the top deck when she saw people sliding.

"I thought to myself, `Why couldn't they balance themselves? The water's not rough,' " Janice Perlman said in a telephone interview after returning to her home from a doctor's appointment.

Suddenly she, too, was slipping on the deck. She banged her head on an ice cream machine. Water poured out of the swimming pool and two hot tubs.

"I just wanted to get to Manny. I didn't want to die alone. I wanted to be together when we died," she said.

The Perlmans stayed on the ship overnight and returned to Maryland on Wednesday.

Emanuel Perlman, a cantor for Chizuk Amino Congregation in Pikesville, held an icepack to his right side yesterday to soothe injured ribs. He was waiting for X-ray results to confirm that they were bruised, not broken.

His wife bumped her head, neck, shoulders and knee. A glass table fell on her foot and bruised it from ankle to toe, she said.

Princess Cruises said it is offering a full refund to passengers and reimbursement for travel and medical expenses caused by the incident.

The ship is scheduled to leave tomorrow on another cruise, with the company offering a 50 percent discount. That irked Emanuel Perlman because the cause of the mishap has not been determined.

He said he would not consider returning to a new ship - the Crown Princess began service this year - or to one without a more experienced staff.

As for whether Janice Perlman would return to a cruise soon, she said, "Don't even ask me that question."

liz.kay@baltsun.com

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