I was immediately aware of a very wet sensation on the bottoms of my feet! In fact, it was an unmistakably wet sensation. In short, the carpet was soaked! "Only a plumbing leak" I told myself. Just to be sure (after a quick glance at the portholes!) I decided to check it out, so I stuck my finger into the wetness and tasted it. To my complete and utter horror, it was SALT WATER! All of the little voices in my head were calling out "We're going down, we're going down!"
I leapt out of the bed and switched on the cabin lights. While the switch was in mid-flip, I realized what I was doing and was quite sure I would be electrocuting myself on the spot. Luckily, my anticipated demise did not occur and the cabin was filled with light. The entire floor was squishy and wet.
I went over to the cabin door and, hearing voices outside, flung it open. I was greeted by a miniature tidal wave of 2 or 3 inches in height, breaking majestically over the doorsill and onto my already wet feet.
The voices (speaking, or should I say yelling, in Italian) were rounding the corner of the passageway. Other passengers could be seen emerging from their cabins, as well. At precisely that moment, I realized that I was completely naked, and ducked back into my cabin to assume a pair of shorts and t-shirt.
When I emerged for the second time, I tried to ask one of the Italians (who were ship's engineers, judging by their uniforms) what was going on. I do not speak Italian, so it was slow and laborious going... While we were talking, the engineers were madly ripping large panels off the side of the passageway. First here, then there, following no particular pattern! At last they seemed to have demolished the correct panel, as they began congratulating eachother heartily.
I finally was able to ascertain that the ship had not sprung a leak and was in no danger of sinking. What had happened was that the ship's pressurized salt water system, used to flush the toilets, had ruptured just outside my cabin....
Shortly, the purser arrived and escorted me to an (empty) officers cabin, where I spent the remiainder of the night (the officer was on duty on the bridge, I assume) and while I was ashore the following day, a crew recarpeted my cabin, along with 4 other cabins. They also recarpeted an entire elevator landing and nearly the whole passageway. It was as if nothing happened when I returned.
Microcomputer Systems Research & Planning