Andy, now deputy news editor at the Daily Mirror, thought he would end up boarding the boat after waking up late in his hotel.
However, a determined taxi driver saw he and his friends, Pete Nesbitt and Mark Evans, reach their earlier scheduled ferry on time, meaning they didn’t have to travel on the ill-fated voyage which followed it.
Andy, 37, told the Post: “My mum texted me to ask if I was OK. I went online and felt sick.
“We were late checking out. On the way to the harbour the driver was overtaking everything trying to get us to the ferry and we were all commenting on it.
“People were getting annoyed on the minibus with the way he was driving but it could have saved us. When we got on the boat we were all packed in on to seats with some forced on deck.
“I didn’t have any space and had to sit in the steps to get outside just to get some air.
“We were looking at the windows on the way over and they were tiny. We actually said at the time if this boat went under we were done for.
“I can only imagine how those people felt if their boat was as full as ours. It must have been blind panic for them. My heart goes out to all who were killed or injured.”
Officials say the blast was an accident likely caused by a problem with the fuel tank, and ruled out foul play.