With 15-20 beams on him his shields should have melted very quickly. That Escort in the story sounds like it was using the multi-shield exploit. (Fixed now). But in essence he drawing upon the damage capacity and and regeneration of a second Deflector Shield when use the Redistributed Shield Power ability.
Here's a tip - stacking RCS accelerators is according to my experience not the best way to play a cruiser. I am content with the maneuverability from one injector assembly (+3.5 or so engine power) console and 1 RCS accelerator.
I make use of speed more than turn rate. Remeber in this 'flying on rails' physics the faster your ship flies the more lateral distance it translates with the same turn rate. I never rely on pointing the nose at the enemy on a cruiser, sometimes turning the other direction (away from the enemy, instead of starting an endless corkscrew duel) can throw the enemy off guard while unmasking both front and rear torpedoes in turn.
Use evasive maneuver and/or ramming speed and keep a large stock of engine batteries to keep your average combat speed very high. Efficient Impulse Engine is a -must- because it boosts all other systems significantly again helping you to keep speed high.
The majority of the time on a cruiser is spent managing broadside or rear weapons arcs.
To pilot a cruiser in PvP is to try and think ahead of the current situation. You can only use EM or engine boosts once every X minutes and you must try and team up with other ships to reduce your own vulnerability.
Use the additional Engineering boff slots for potent team heals and your friends would love your cruiser.
also, remember that any class can fly any ship. Being an Engie does not restrict you to cruisers and being Tac doesn't restrict you to escorts, both carry bonuses that can be extremely useful for flying a different class of ship, for example, with the right buffs, a tac in a cruiser can put out more DPS than an engie in a cruiser, an engie can make an escort last slightly longer in a fight than a tac can.
I've been a tac officer flying a cruiser for awhile now. An Oddy no less. For the record, my Oddy, Emissary, and Sov, all perform equally well, with a minimum of tactic changing. I use to fly science ( luna ), worked out well, but lacked the balance I was looking for. And really, I would say that THAT is the biggest perk of a cruiser, is its versatility. I can do almost as much damage to the enemy as I did in my escort, stay awhile in a fire fight, and if need be I do have the minimal ability to heal others.
But as has already been stated, it's really about your play style. Just for the love of god, if you do elite STFs, make sure you get some practice in normal when testing any new build.
And truth be told, I think that's the bad rep that any ship gets, when I play an Elite these days, it's a miracle to have people in there who know what they are doing, regardless of the ship they're in.
Cruisers are the overall super ship. If in doubt, go with cruisers. They are giant, resilient (if equipped properly) and have very high DPS when slotted up and skilled out correctly.
Granted, not nearly as many Crit damage as escorts, but when doing STFs, sometimes its better to survive than "go down fighting" every time.
Another idea is the Galaxy Dreadnought. If you have a thing for cannons, stick with it. only bummer is it only has a Lt. Tac boff slot, so it, to be honest, is kinda useless.
I'd suggest the excelsior or Odyssey as they have lots of Tac potential. I currently run an Odyssey with the optional loaded with my Breen Boff. I keep up with the tacs in STF runs, and often draw aggro from cubes and such.
Cruisers also have high power levels, so you won't feel overwhelmed often. Especially with EPT3 and Red Matter Cap. Those will keep you topped off nearly always.