The Costa Concordia was one of a kind. The luxurious cruise ship wowed just about everyone who stepped foot on it. This monstrosity of a ship was christened in 2006 and housed over 4,000 passengers at a time. With 1,500 cabins, a casino, and a multi-level theater, the ship was basically a mobile ocean city. Sadly, on January 13th, 2012, the Costa Concordia sunk when it struck a rock formation as it departed from a town in Italy. The ship has since been pulled from the water and the effects of the crash are now more apparent than ever.
For the first time since the disaster, German photographer Jonathan Danko Kielkowski had a chance to board the unearthed ship to see what things looked like inside. The eeriness of the photos is quite remarkable.
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1. The Costa Concordia came to rest in shallow waters off a small Italian island after striking a rock formation underwater.
Captain Francesco Schettino had ordered the ship to sail in close to the island to salute locals. On board, many people were just sitting down to dinner when the ship lurched and crunched into the rocks. At first, passengers were only told that there was a blackout, but it quickly became clear it was much worse.
2. Shortly after the sinking, authorities took Captain Schettino into custody.
In 2015, he was tried and to 16 years in prison for manslaughter and deserting the passengers of his ship as it sank. A total of 32 people died in the disaster, and the press nicknamed Schettino “Captain Coward.”
3. In the meantime, a salvage operation began on the once-proud cruise ship.
While it sat abandoned off the Tuscan coast, German photographer Jonathan Danko Kielkowski found a chance to swim onto the ship to take some pictures of the inside.
4. Most striking, Jonathan saw evidence of the passengers’ frenzied escape everywhere. People’s belongings were still scattered around the hallways and rooms.
You can almost feel the panic that must have gripped the passengers as they dropped their suitcases and ran for their lives.
5. This theater used to be magnificent at one point. Now it’s in ruins.
It should be filled with a laughing, clapping, joy-filled crowd, so it must have been creepy for Jonathan to see it silenced and in tatters. Dust and mold and tarnish have removed every hint of glitter and polish.
6. Jonathan found the casino severely damaged. You can see how violent the collision would have been by how the heavy slot machines were overturned and thrown around.
Passengers were most likely sitting right at these slot machines, money in hand, hoping for a jackpot when disaster struck.
7. The bedrooms are somewhat still intact, but very creepy – there’s nothing stately about these staterooms anymore.
There are hundreds of these abandoned rooms on the Concordia, and it’s safe to say that only the bravest person would consider staying a night in one of them in this condition.
8. This amazing staircase still stands and hints of the emerald-colored finish continue to shine through the damage.
The fact that so much detail and color survived the crash and the length of time it was capsized just goes to show how much care and engineering went into the construction of this ship.
9. Hallways where passengers and crew used to walk seem really eerie now. The sea has left its mark on every inch here.
The halls have been stripped of all their character and decorated with dirt and mold and mildew. Seeing all the lounge furniture for pleasure seekers strewn about doesn’t help much either.
10. On the bridge, Jonathan found the control panel that Captain Schettino likely stood near as the ship started sinking.
It’s sobering to imagine the frantic messages going to and from this panel after the ship started to take on water — and Schettino abandoning his duty to the passengers and crew in his care.
11. Here’s part of the gigantic elevator with some remaining water. The nautical murals painted on the walls have faded some, but they still hint at happier times.
It would have been a nice, wide open space to wait for an elevator. Note the lifesaver at the bottom of the picture to give a sense of scale.
12. Taken from further back on the balcony, this photo shows how well the giant elevator area actually fared after the sinking. It’s a shadow of its former self, but it also could have been much worse.
It’s still quite majestic! And you have to appreciate the artistry of this shot by Jonathan.
13. Looking down into the elevator area provides an eerie scene, with the emerald of the elevators reflecting off what would usually be clear, serene Mediterranean waters below.
It almost looks nice enough to jump in and swim around, don’t you think? Except for the wreckage and the reminders of tragedy all around you, of course.
14. And yet, somehow this elevator entrance looks like new…. Weird. It’s hard to imagine how any area of the ship could have come through the collision intact, but here it is.
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