RIO HATO, Panama — A Panamanian man and his two friends had been drifting for 16 days in a fishing boat in the Pacific Ocean when they saw a huge white ship. They would be saved, they thought, and Adrian Vasquez began waving a dark red sweater.
Birdwatchers with powerful spotting scopes on the promenade deck of the luxury cruise ship Star Princess saw a little boat adrift miles away. They told ship staff about the man desperately waving a red cloth.
The cruise ship didn't stop, and the fishing boat drifted another two weeks before it was found. By then, Vasquez's friends had died.
"I said, 'God will not forgive them,' " Vasquez told the Associated Press as he recalled the encounter in the waters off South America. "Today, I still feel rage when I remember."
On Thursday, Princess Cruises, in Santa Clarita, Calif., said a preliminary investigation showed passengers' reports that they had spotted a boat in distress never made it to Capt. Edward Perrin or the officer on duty.
If it did, the company said, the captain and crew would have altered course to rescue the men, as the cruise line has done more than 30 times in the past 10 years. The company expressed sympathy for the men and their families.