So there's something curious about the sinking of the cruise ship
she must have been in a sharp turn, or turning while backing, or something.
The other odd thing is that that damage is on the up
side as she lays now. Now, it's true that she sank some miles from the reef she first hit (... the captain made for that port once he realized she was taking on a lot of water), so perhaps some sort of free surface effect
caused her to roll the other way
So I just saw an interesting documentary which explains a lot of this - and also makes it clear that a horrible death-toll was only averted through sheer chance.
She was indeed turning sharply when she first struck (on the port side, the side that's now up), as the captain realized he had cut it too close. She lost power within a minute or so of the impact, apparently due to the flooding, and momentum took her out to sea (after the turn), where she came to a stop a mile or so offshore.
Here's where the luck came in: the wind was out of the North-East - just the direction to blow her back towards the shore. (The captain claims he beached her, but the telemetry shows she slowly moved sideways until she hit - i.e. she was not under control.) Had the wind been offshore, instead of onshore, she'd almost certainly have sunk miles offshore.
Given that many of the lifeboats on the 'up' side could not be launched because of the list (many people were evacuated by lifeboats making a second trip after unloading on the island; others jumped and swam to shore), had she sunk a long way offshore, many people (hundreds, perhaps a thousand or more) would have drowned or died from exposure (water temp that night was about 65 degrees --> one hour without protective gear).
The thing is that the captain made a series of bad calls. She was moving quite fast at the time of impact - way too fast for that close to shore; as a result, the impact caused a gash about 160' long. (Here's where the 'Titanic' parallels begin.) She could withstand two compartments flooding - but a gash of that length would flood three or four. The captain was told the size of the gash by the chief engineer within a few minutes - but instead of immediately
ordering abandon ship, he delayed, and when evacuation was finally ordered, she has listed so far that many lifeboats on the high side could not be launched.
The reason she sank listing to starboard is likely that there was a pretty good breeze that night, and once she lost power she naturally went broadside on, and with her high superstructure, the wind rolled her over a bit - that combined with free surface effects, and eventually hitting the island, to capsize her the other way.
But they were really lucky - had the wind been blowing the other direction...