This was clearly and extremely poorly trained crew who didn't know evacuation procedures or didn't act on them. Maybe if the captain and senior officers hadn't run away things might have been better organized. They waited far too long to start abandoning ship, and even sent passengers back to their cabins, telling them that the problem was fixed! By the time they actually started evacuations the ship was heeled over on her side too far for many of the lifeboats to be launched. Absolutely incredible that a ship a few hundred yards off shore can't evacuate its passengers without a couple of dozen dying.
According to an article - a first-hand account - I've read, the evacuation was going relatively smoothly until men started pushing their way past women and children.
...a retired British policeman who survived the tragedy is telling about behavior by male passengers who bullied their way into early lifeboats. Edwin Gurd has stated that men 'pushed past terrified women and children' in order to escape the ship. ... he feared that they could be crushed.
...early stages of evacuation was orderly... Then it changed, as men started pushing their way past the waiting passengers. link
Of course, it doesn't help that the cruise line companies hire as many cheap labour third-worlders as possible for the crew. They're cheap, but that also means there's rapid rotation, and with a dozen different languages things can get awful confusing awfully quick.
Sounds as if the Filipino crew stayed and did all that they could to help the passengers.
...the Philippine embassy in Rome had received positive feedback from other crewmembers and passengers about the Filipino crew’s brave acts manifesting competence, professionalism and humanity, even under extreme pressure.
The Filipino seafarers were commended for staying on to help evacuate other passengers from the cruise ship after its captain allegedly abandoned ship and fled to safety.link
For anyone who is interested, this site has a really good account of the events as they occurred, including lots of comments and photos: link