Its been two years since the deadly Costa Concordia disaster. It's much safer now the cruise lines assure us.
The cruise line trade organization, CLIA, reminds us of all of the new protocols which the cruise industry implemented shortly after the Concordia capsized.
One of the new rules prohibits family, guests or other persons not essential to the navigation of the vessel from being on the bridge. This was to prevent "disruptions and distractions to the bridge team members while monitoring the navigation of the ship."
This new proposal came about because at the time of the disaster, disgraced Captain Schettino had invited his (often-photographed-in-a-bikini} paramour, Moldovan dancer Domnica Cemortan, to the bridge.
I call this the "no-bimbo's-on-the-bridge" protocol.
It's pretty embarrassing that this is how the playboy officers on the Costa cruise were acting at the time of the disaster. It's even more embarrassing that the cruise lines had so little confidence in their navigational crew that they had to adopt a policy outlawing such immature, fraternity-like behavior.
But today it appears that nothing has changed at the Costa boys club.The Italian newspaper Oggi published photographs of an attractive Romanian blonde, Sasha Alexandra, posing in the bridge of the Costa Atlantica. She was photographed next to the captain in a tight cocktail dress holding a large machine gun.
I can hear the Costa captain thinking: These former-communist women from post-Cold War eastern Europe holding guns are so hot!
The Italian magazine explains that the Atlantica cruise ship was sailing through the Gulf of Aden with armed security guards to protect the cruise ship from attack by Somali pirates. That's when the captain invited the lovely Sasha Alexandra onto the bridge.
Oggi further explains that someone who obtained the photographs tried to extort money from Costa in return for not selling them to the press. It looks like Oggi was willing to pay more money than Costa for the embarrassing photos.
The timing of the latest-blonde-in-the-bridge photo couldn't have been worse. Yesterday was the two year anniversary of the Concordia crash which claimed 32 lives.
For all those naive cruise fans who want to believe the cruise lines when they say that things have changed, the sad truth is that the cruise industry is no safer now than it was two years ago.
The photos prove it.
I can't wait when the Playboy edition entitled the "Girls of Costa Cruise Lines" comes out.
I suspect that it may consist entirely of photos shot in the bridges of the cruise ships in the Costa fleet.
Top: Domnica Cemortan / Costa Concordia / Fransesco Schettino - http://www.stiri.com.ro/stire
Middle: Sasha Alexandra - Facebook via Telegraph
Bottom: Oggi via Telegraph