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Cruise disaster couple back on the ocean waves
THE Worcestershire couple who survived the Costa Concordia shipwreck have conquered their fears and taken their first cruise since the disaster.
Viv and Derek Ebbage of Westmancote, near Pershore, always vowed to get back on a cruise ship following the shipwreck near the tiny Italian Island of Giglio in January.
But it was Mr Ebbage who surprised his wife with a short trip to ease them back into cruising last month to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.
The couple spent two nights on the Queen Mary II and travelled from Hamburg in Germany to Southampton, arriving on Friday, July 27.
“I had no idea where we going,” said Mrs Ebbage. “Derek organised it all and I just went along from place to place. We spent the night in Hamburg then packed up and went to the docks and there was the Queen Mary II. I looked at it and said: ‘no, are we?’”
The retired teachers were among the 4,200 people on the boat in January, of which 32 died in the disaster.
They spoke to your Worcester News afterwards and told how they were nearly left behind after making way for other passengers to escape. The grandparents said they received no safety talk on the ship and it was at this moment on their recent trip that memories of the disaster hit them.
Mrs Ebbage said: “The only thing that really spooked me was the boat drill. Seeing all those people with their orange life vests getting together was really horrible.
“I think it was the sheer quantity of people being quiet and listening in their jackets. I kept saying ‘at least we haven’t sailed and are having the drill because we didn’t on the Costa Concordia’. Apart from that it was lovely and very luxurious.”
Since the incident Mrs Ebbage has been giving talks about the experience and says she and her husband have talked their way through it.
“Probably it has helped us to move on,” added Mrs Ebbage. “I have done lots of talks and the first question people ask is will you get on a cruise again? I always said ‘yes’.
“We have also had a huge amount of love and support. It’s still unbelievable but you cannot dwell on these things. You have to move forward.”
Passengers of the liner have now been offered 11,000 euro (£9,000) in compensation.
Mrs Ebbage said she is going to accept this amount while her husband had not made a final decision yet.