When none of the ship’s officers appeared to issue instructions, Moss, who was not easily frightened, began to feel uneasy.

“You’re on a ship in the middle of the ocean, in the dark of night, in a terrible storm,” he says, “I felt this tightening in my stomach.”

When small, dim emergency lights came on, Moss went up to the lounge to check on the musical instruments on stage. Microphone and cymbal stands were strewn about. Then he suddenly realised he couldn’t hear the constant, throbbing, background noise of the engines. The ship had lost power and was slowing down.

Soon the 153m (502ft) Oceanos was drifting sideways onto the crashing waves.

The ship, says Moss, was getting hammered.

Anxious guests began pouring into the lounge. Pot plants, ashtrays, and chairs were sliding around, and people had to move from their seats to sit on the floor as the ship lurched wildly from one side to the other, port to starboard.

About an hour passed, and the mood in the lounge grew tense. Moss grabbed an acoustic guitar and began singing with some of the other entertainers to try to keep people calm. But as time stretched on, Moss noticed that the ship was heeling – no longer coming back to a level position when it was being thrown about in the storm.

“Something bad is happening,” Moss said to Tracy, “I’m going to try and find out what’s going on.

Hanging on to the handrails, Moss and another entertainer, Julian, a magician from Yorkshire, made their way through the darkness below deck. They could hear excited voices speaking many different languages. Officers were running around, some were carrying bags, some had life jackets on, and some were wet.

“Everyone was pretty wild-eyed and panicked-looking,” Moss says. “We were trying to ask, ‘What’s happening?’ but it was like we didn’t exist.”

Julian and Moss continued down to the engine room – the lowest part of the ship.

“We were way below the waterline, in the dark, on our own, and there was no-one there,” Moss says. “That would never, ever happen, even when you’re docked.”

The thick, metal doors which acted as a safety barrier by preventing water moving from one compartment of a ship to another in the event of flooding, were tightly closed.

“But it sounded like there was a large body of water sloshing about behind those watertight doors,” Moss says.

Back up in the lounge, there had still not been any announcements about what was going on. Moss found the cruise director who said the captain had told her they were going to have to abandon the ship.

“Then we found out that one lifeboat had already gone with a lot of the crew and senior officers on it,” he says.

Moss and the others had no idea how to evacuate a cruise ship, nor how to launch the lifeboats which hung high above the deck along each of the ship’s sides, but there was nobody more qualified around to do it.

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One by one, they began lowering the starboard side lifeboats down to the deck. They didn’t know how to keep them steady as people got on, so Moss improvised by standing with one leg on the deck of the ship and the other on a lifeboat.

But each time the ship rolled to starboard, Moss would have to jump back onto the Oceanos before the lifeboat swung away, opening up a gap of a couple of metres, and then swung back, smashing with such force against the ship’s hull that bits of it came splintering off.

Each heaving lifeboat, now with as many as 90 people in it, many screaming in fear, would then be lowered down to the sea on cables. But Moss had no idea how to start the engines or even where the keys were.

“We’d let them go, off into the night, and they would just drift away into the pounding waves,” he says. “The people in the lifeboats had a torturous time – they were getting deluged in spray, it was cold and completely dark, but we just had to carry on until all of the starboard side lifeboats were launched.

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