Costa Concordia survivors go on another cruise
COSTA Concordia survivors Viv and Derek Ebbage have just got back from being away again – on another cruise.
The couple, from Westmancote, near Tewkesbury, were left with haunting memories after the Italian cruise ship disaster in January.
They managed to clamber aboard a lifeboat to get away from the stricken vessel after it ran aground by the island of Giglio, off the Italian coastline.
But 32 people died in the disaster and the Ebbages appreciate how lucky they were not to have been among its victims.
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Despite the terrifying moments from that experience still being fresh in their mind, they decided to try to conquer their fears by going on another cruise.
Mrs Ebbage said: "We've been married 45 years and my husband surprised me by saying we were going away for four days. We flew out from Southampton to join a cruise on the Queen Mary 2 from Hamburg to the North Sea and the English Channel to Southampton.
"It was a very short one, just two nights and we were away for four days in all.
"It was almost like falling off a horse and getting back on again soon after.
"I think our family and friends were expecting us to do it as a way of laying ghosts to rest, which we've done now."
But she admitted that the trip for the retired couple was not without incident. The horror of the Costa Concordia disaster came back to her vividly when the Queen Mary 2 passengers went through a safety drill.
She said: "There hadn't been one on the Costa Concordia. I expect all boats are doing it now.
"I had an awful flashback. That was the only time it really bothered me, when everybody was in their orange life jackets. I thought 'none of you know how serious this is'. Derek was aware that I was under strain. We didn't say much at the time. He has since said 'that was nasty for you' and I said it was."
But, apart from that, Mrs Ebbage said she had a fantastic time on the cruise.
Passengers of the doomed liner have each been offered 11,000 euro (just over £9,000) in compensation by the boat's bosses. Some have been holding out for much larger payments but Mrs Ebbage said: "I've decided to accept it and Derek nearly has too."