Iredell County Commissioner Franklin Mitchell booked a trip on the doomed Costa Concordia for its Jan. 13 voyage, as a surprise, anniversary gift to his wife.
After checking his schedule, he realized he would miss an important county commission vote on a $450 million commuter train proposal.
He said the conflict was a blessing in disguise.
"Absolutely the best budget meeting I've ever attended," he said. "God was with us, I guess."
Nineteen people are missing after the ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members crashed last Friday into an underwater cliff in the shallow waters near Giglio Island, off Italy's western coast.
The cabin that Mitchell had booked was on the Starboard side of the cruise ship; the side of the ship that is now underwater.
"We're just fortunate," Mitchell said.
The Mitchells' lost about $500 from having to cancel the airfare for their trip.
They said they still want to take a cruise later this summer.