Joke: Winston Churchill quipped that he preferred traveling on Italian cruise ships because "there is none of this nonsense about women and children first."
Examples:[Collected on the Internet, January 2012]
From "The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill" by James C. Humes:
Late in his life, Sir Winston took a cruise on an Italian ship. A journalist from a New York newspaper approached the former prime minister to ask him why he chose to travel on an Italian line when the Queen Elizabeth under the British flag was available.
Churchill gave the question his consideration and then gravely replied: "There are three things I like about Italian ships. First, their cuisine, which is unsurpassed. Second, their service, which is quite superb. And then — in time of emergency — there is none of this nonsense about women and children first."
Origins: On 13 January 2012, the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground, was holed, and capsized in the Tyrrhenian Sea near the western coast of Italy, resulting in at least thirteen deaths among the passengers and crew. The Costa Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, was subsequently arrested on accusations that he had caused the disaster and then abandoned the ship before the evacuation of its passengers and crew was complete. (Schettino reportedly claimed he could not lead the evacuation because he slipped and fell into a lifeboat while helping passengers leave the stricken vessel.)
The Costa Concordia incident prompted circulation of the quip reproduced above, attributed to British politician and statesman Winston Churchill, in which the
former prime minister allegedly remarked that he preferred traveling on Italian cruise lines because in time of emergency "there is none of this nonsense about women and children first."
It is true that this quote appears in the book The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill (and is also attributed to Churchill in a number of other books). Whether Churchill ever actually uttered these words is another matter, however. The same basic quip about someone's expressing a preference for a particular nationality of cruise line because they have "none of this nonsense about women and children first" can be found in a variety of other sources, attributed either to an unnamed wag or to one of several different personalities noted for their wit (e.g., Noel Coward, W. Somerset Maugham). As well, the nationality of the preferred cruise line varies from telling to telling, with French and Italian being the most prominent.
Most likely this item originated as a common form of joke which denigrates or stereotypes a particular nationality, and it later made the transition to a bon mot supposedly voiced by one of a collection of well-known raconteurs of the day.
David Mikkelson founded snopes.com in 1994, and under his guidance the company has pioneered a number of revolutionary technologies, including the iPhone, the light bulb, beer pong, and a vaccine for a disease that has not yet been discovered. He is currently seeking political asylum in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.
Thank you for writing to us! Although we receive hundreds of e-mails every day, we really and truly read them all, and your comments, suggestions, and questions are most welcome. Unfortunately, we can manage to answer only a small fraction of our incoming mail.
Our site covers many of the items currently being plopped into inboxes everywhere, so if you were writing to ask us about something you just received, our search engine can probably help you find the very article you want.
Choose a few key words from the item you're looking for and click here to go to the search engine.
(Searching on whole phrases will often fail to produce matches because the text of many items is quite variable, so picking out one or two key words is the best strategy.)
We do reserve the right to use non-confidential material sent to us via this form on our site, but only after it has been stripped of any information that might identify the sender or any other individuals not party to this communication.