Costa Concordia tragedy: This was our first cruise ... and our last
It will be the "first and last" luxury cruise for an Irish couple who feared they might lose their lives as a liner ran aground off the Italian coast.
A third Irish passport holder who was also aboard the stricken vessel, believed to be from Northern Ireland, was also described as safe and well last night.
Seamus and Carol Moore yesterday were relieved to be back in the comfort of their home as they recovered from their ordeal.
From their house in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, they repeatedly told scores of well-wishers the tale of their dramatic rescue from the stricken cruise liner Costa Concordia. "I combined my first and last cruise," quipped Mr Moore as he explained how they had booked their first cruise to celebrate Carol's 50th birthday.
"We are really appreciating the fact that things worked out."
But when the Costa Concordia ran into a reef on Friday night and capsized into the port area of Giglio, Tuscany, "the reality of it was that we thought we were going to die".
At one point they had contemplated jumping from the stricken vessel and even wrote a note telling the children they loved them to place in Mrs Moore's handbag.
He said they were repeatedly told it was an electrical problem when it was obvious the issue was far more serious.
Mr Moore said the staff manning the lifeboats were the waiters, barmen and cleaners who "under the circumstances did well" as they coped with an agitated crowd.
Mrs Moore told how the first lifeboat they got into was shaking, before it got caught against the top of the ship and fell onto the next deck. They then saw the last lifeboat leave from their side of the deck after they climbed back up.
"We didn't know what the situation was. When we thought we were going to die that was when we got calm. We stayed calm after that," he said.
The ship was tilting dramatically on to its side as they edged along the top of the ship to the other side before boarding a lifeboat shortly before 1am.
Mrs Moore told how they finally felt safe after they had made their way around to the other side of the ship and spotted the lifeboats in the water. They had to slide down and jump aboard.
"We texted everyone and our kids, that at 2.35am we were on land," she said.