January 16th, 2012
06:11 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – I could not help but think of the Titanic when I first heard of the Costa Concordia. But there is no comparison beyond the anniversary year.

Actually, maybe there is another similarity. The sinking of the Titanic did not stop the cruise industry and this one won’t either.

But the industry will have to remind people what William Gibbons, director of the Passenger Shipping Association, told me: “We have to reassure everybody that now is a good time to book a cruise and that it is a very safe and secure holiday.”

Do you agree?

I have never taken a cruise and have no plans to, but many tens of thousands of people do. Some people even live on cruise ships year round.



The industry built dozens of huge new liners in the last decade, and four to six thousand people can be on one of these floating skyscrapers. At the same time many new very small liners were also built, catering to the wealthy looking for more intimate cruises.

There is much speculation on whether these ships carry too many people to evacuate during a panic.

Some people may want to think twice about taking a cruise this year - short term blips are expected. But the industry will not suffer from dropped bookings already made.

If you have already booked a cruise - not on the Concordia - think twice about cancelling. You won’t get your money back.

“They won't be subject to a refund,” Gibbons said. “Because this incident is so rare and isolated... we're totally confident that all our safety systems, our offices and crew, the training, the supervision of all on board, [people] can be totally assured that cruising is a very safe and secure holiday, and will continue to be so.”

My guess is Costa owner Carnival Corporation will, in fact, offer people refunds on upcoming cruises as a goodwill gesture. That would have a big impact because the Miami-based firm controls so much of the industry.

With more than 100 ships and nearly half the market, the Anglo-American firm trades under names such as Carnival, Princess, P&O, Cunard (including the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2) and its Italian arm Costa Cruises. Costa has 15 ships, including the stricken Concordia.

In the nine months to September 2011, its net income was nearly $1.7 billion.

But as at Monday afternoon, I have only seen on television the CEO of Costa. Where is Carnival Corporation’s CEO and major owner, Micky Arison, beyond a statement released to the stock market?

There is nothing on his twitter feed beyond talk of his beloved Miami Heat basketball team.

According to marketing expert Allyson Stewart-Allen, “fielding top executives from Costa's parent company, Carnival Cruises, is a must as only they have measurable credibility for reassuring concerned relatives, friends, customers, employees, investors, media and other stakeholders.”

The company is clearly pointing the finger at the captain, but it's unclear if that will make potential customers feel any better.

And it seems the Concordia could be brought back into the fleet. According to Carnival's stock market statement, it will lose $85 million to $95 million without the ship sailing for the year. It then says, however, “review of the vessel is currently being undertaken to determine how long it will be out of service.”

Shipping expert Malcolm Latarche told me: “ships have been refloated, from much worse positions, even from under water. Some of the big salvage companies will even now be fighting over the contract for it. Yea, its salvageable.”

But would you holiday on the Concordia?

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soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Pete


    January 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  2. Eliana Zoia

    I do not think that people will stop going on cruise ships. They will always be around. Just do not book one in the italian coast. This system is corrupted, even in the cruise world. This was created by the powers at be of the italian cruise world.

    January 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  3. Diego

    It would be silly to condemn the entire cruise industry because of one incident. Planes fall, cars and buses crash, trains derail, and yes, ships have problems too. It's inevitable. You can never be totally safe, even if you stay at home.

    January 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  4. Jamie Thomas

    My husband & I recently booked another Western Caribbean Cruise w/ Royal Caribbean. Yes, this awful tragedy definitely sent chills down my spine, but in no way did either one of us second guess our decision to hit the high seas again. Statistically, it is still one of the safest forms of travel. The only difference for us will be that we will be carrying a small emergency kit to hold things like a flashlight, copies of our passports & credit cards, etc. It is so terrible that this has happened, especially in this day and age, but I suppose the silverlining in this is that everyone will learn from this incident, thus making cruising safer for us all. I sure hope this makes everyone take muster drills seriously. Hopefully, laws about when these muster drills take place will change as well. Perhaps, since many European cruisers embark at different ports, they can have their steward/stewardess go over safety orientation when new cruisers first arrive in their cabins. Just a thought. :-\ Anyhoo, my prayers are with the both the survivors & the loved ones of those that didn't make it. So sad. :'(

    January 16, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  5. ddblah

    Jamie: "statistically"? You actually have statistics to back up your claim?

    January 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  6. John

    Hmm, travel. The problem is exactly that. You can't really "travel" with a ship today. I would like to travel sometimes, somewhere like in the good old days, but today's ships are actually some kind of hotels. Instead of spending your holidays on some beach or island, you book a place on one of those ships. There's no more travels. If you wanna cross the ocean you are forced to take a plane, even if you don't enjoy flying and even if you are not in a hurry.

    January 17, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  7. Tigresse

    I agree with the author that this tragedy won't stop the cruise industry but I do think it will have some serious repercussions on ship size and evacuation procedures/personnel training in the future. These behemoths and this incident in particular stress that fact that 'bigger" is NOT better. In fact, I would question how THOUSANDS of people could be safely evacuated in a timely manner in a much WORSE incident than this. Also, these cruise ships do NOT have breaks; they must cut power within 1.5km of the docking area to actually make the ships stop. I think computers have their limitations, as do humans and human error. I'm not surprised that this happened, in particular in Italy on an Italian-owned cruise ship as they have a history in the Mediterranean of cruise ship errors and accidents.That being said, my sincere condolences go out to the victims' families and friends.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  8. Tom RI

    Never been on a cruise ship and never will! You can not travel on a ship you can only be soaked out of your money in a cabin that drops you off in a limited area that will cost you more money to see what is not within a 1000 feet of the ship where they get a commission on sales.

    These ships are registered in countries where they NEVER sail to and then claim exemption from laws of the countries that they actually do sail to. If an Airline claimed all the exemptions that the cruise industry did they would be in the black and the stewardess would be wearing hot pants, girdles and halter tops getting $5.00 a day $2.50 when they cross the international date line.

    There is no regulation in the industry and the Cruise lines know it. Their safety standards should be the same as any other vessel that arrives into a port and they should be required to follow the rules of the country where they are disembarking from rather then where they are registered from.

    Does an airline wait 24 hrs before it provides safety instructions like the cruise lines? Or do they not plan on an accident like this one in the first 24 hours? Accidents can happen in the first hour.

    January 17, 2012 at 2:39 am |
  9. raz

    absolutely wont!! take airline industry for an example.. hundreds of accidents n people r still going via air..

    January 17, 2012 at 5:45 am |
  10. Gunnar Arnkvist

    The cruise industry between Sweden, Finland and Estonia survived the Estonia disatser with 852 dead. With annually 13.8 million passenger a year for three countries with a total population of 16.2 million. With those figures you can count how much one distatser will change how people travel.

    September 11, 2001 was one of the worst day in the history of passenger flights. Two weeks after I made a flight with American Airlines. I can't have afford to be afraid of someone who hide himself in a cave and was unshaved and not wearing a tie. The only thing that had made me travel less with airplanes was all those security checks, double checks and triple checks. We let the terrorists changed our open society and our freedom.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  11. Vanessa

    Considering that ships have been around for milennia and that there has never been a maritime accident (cough cough) in the history of human nature and plus that only five people out of 4,200 passengers died... I think that a tragedy/disaster/(insert apocaliptic noun of your liking here) of this magnitude will surely destroy all maritime travel for future generations.
    We'll now be stuck to cars, planes, trains and walking...
    This is an incredible dumb article! GET SOME PERSPECTIVE PEOPLE!

    January 17, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  12. Charlie Marlow

    1. Would I holiday on the Concordia, or ANY cruise ship? No. They are horrible, all of them. Glittering, hideous hunks of junk that look like floating housing projects, with no resemblance to my notion of what a "ship" should look like.
    ("My" ship – the one I served on as an officer – looked like this http://navysite.de/cg/cg34_2.jpg).
    2. Will the cruise industry be damaged by this mishap? Possibly a little, but not much.
    3. SHOULD the cruise industry be damaged? IMHO, it should disappear!

    January 17, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  13. Jontymg

    Went on a costa cruise this past summer and can't wait to go again – if people cancel it may drive the price down! Even better!!

    January 17, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  14. Tutuvabene

    Ships have been going down with incompetent captains and crews since the beginning of time. This will definitely not stop folks from going on voyages. The key is that as a passenger, I need to be familiar with the safety gear on the ship and how to get off if there is an abandon ship and be proactive in asking about it if I'm not shown by the time the ship sails.

    January 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  15. Zena Lazarus

    Went on a royal Carribean cruise to years ago. Their commercial shows a couple lolling in an empty pool. Huh! good luck finding one of those! Even the hot pool was full of large ladies. Still the food and service were good.

    January 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  16. Carnival Cruise Lines

    There is a reason the company is known in the industry as Carinvore Cruise Lines

    January 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  17. Carnival Cruise Lines

    Carnivore Cruise Lines

    January 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  18. Eva

    I am off on my 13th cruise this week. Have sailed on Costa – horrible service, crew was very unhappy and let it be known. My cabin mate got off after the first week – this was after the "Customer Service" employee threw his badge at her! Also a big downside for Americans – we are the minority and are treated as such. ALSO, everything to eat had tomatoes – love tomatoes but not that many! The load probably shifted and that is what sunk the Concordia – ha! ha!

    January 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  19. moman1

    I have cruised on every major cruise line in America and two European cruise lines. There is a HUGE difference between them. The European cruise lines have to deal with many more cultural adversities than the American ones. For example, they repeat everything over the PA systems 5 different times to say it in 5 different languages. The American ones don't care about the various cultures to this extent because their clientele is mostly American. Also, the American cruise lines hire personnel from all over the globe instead of locally. When you limit yourself to a specific region to hire from, you don't get as many highly qualified personnel to choose from as you would globally. With a larger base to choose from, American cruise lines have an advantage in getting people who have a stronger work ethic. MAYBE that could explain some of the crew of the Concordia abandoning their duties instead of helping the evacuation process.

    To answer the question asked though, plain and simple, no. I agree that the benfits of cruising outweigh the risks involved. Someone earlier asked about statistics. I can't find any myself but these ships with thousands of people leave port at least once a week with different passengers. Multiply that by hundreds of ships and then multiply that by 100 years since the last time a MAJOR cruise line accident, and the risks are pretty low. The bigger question is what the cruise lines can do to control a disease outbreak. But in the end, the customers, whether it be airline passengers or cruise passengers, accept the risks when they pay the money to travel.

    For those slamming the industry for various reasons (including the "floating housing projects" comment), have you ever been on one? Show me another vacation that can take you to 5 different countries in 7 days, provide you all the food and drink you could ever want, and provide dancing, singing, or just peace and quite (if you want it) for $150 a person per day. Some people pay that much money just to get to their destination let alone everything else.

    I've cruised 8 times now and intend to make every vacation I take to be a cruise.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  20. BANNY B


    January 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  21. irunner

    Is it just me or do modern cruise ships all look top heavy? I have thought on more than one occasion that they look like they could easily capsize. The older "ocean liners" never evoked that thought...

    January 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  22. Holdin27

    Being stuck on a boat and viewed as "cruise people" any place they stop already had me doubting I'd ever want to go on a cruise, this tragedy sealed the deal.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  23. dejah

    I find that people who slam cruises haven't been on them. Or have experienced the really crappy ones. Not all cruises are the same, nor are all cruise lines the same. There is an international code of safety at sea, called SOLAS. Look it up.

    If a ship's crew doesn't follow those rules, action should be taken. This ship captain may have an excuse for the ship hitting a rock (i.e. navigation power went out), but that doesn't excuse what looks like sloppy handling of safety and pax.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  24. Book me, Danno!

    Would I object to sailing on the Concordia? No. It's not the ships' fault that the upper echelon of its crew was incompetent and careless. In view of all that's happened, I'm quite sure that this gross oversight will be corrected in short order. Now is the time for all good men to...

    January 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  25. Jim Bartholomew

    I am going on a cruise next week and can hardly wait. I have been on 10 cruises before. I worry more about driving to the airport than about fly on a plane, or going on a BIG ship.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  26. Mike

    While I might consider a cruise on a smaller ship, I'd never get on a ship of this size. There are simply too many people who are unable to help themselves in an emergency – either due to age, disability, physical condition, and/or alcohol consumption. The evacuation procedures simply don't account for the reality that most cruise passengers are far from able-bodied seamen.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  27. Manda

    Of course I'd book on the Concordia...what are the chances of lightning striking twice? I love cruising and this certainly wont stop me!

    January 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  28. Ileana

    Whether you drive, fly, sail or stroll in a major world city, you may be on vacation, but your brain is not. We have to be alert and aware of our surroundings at all times, take all necessary precautions and continue enjoying ourselves; but, never lose sight that an emergency can occur at any time. Please note quotes from some experienced cruisers on Costa's Concordia, that upon hearing the initial crash sound they immedately knew something was wrong, returned to their cabins for the life jackets and were some of the first to be evacuated on life boats. Important takeaway: do not assume someone else is taking care of you. Heartfelt sympathy for the loss of life and to the families that lost relatives.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  29. @irunner

    "Is it just me or do modern cruise ships all look top heavy?"

    No, I've always thought the same thing. However, a lot of that apparent bulk flush with and above what would be the gunwale is surrounding an open atrium, so it is a little deceiving.

    But, these floating condo-malls are pretty ugly compared with the France or the SS United States. However, apparently there's a reason why they don't ply the North Atlantic.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  30. Larry

    Way too many of the responses here have little to no respect for the dead and their families. All of you that take numerous cruises, and feel they are one of the safest ways to travel are extremely naive. Talk to captains and crew of ships that aren't cruise liners. The modern cruise ships are very very dangerous. Any other ship, that had taken the damage the Concordia suffered, would have stayed upright for many many hours. The faut lies in a very shallow hull that is not deep V. The Concordia rolled because she did not have deep watertight compartments to contain the incoming water. They build them this way because they are cheaper, and passengers do not have to be ferried to destinations, instead the cruise ships can enter into shallow harbors and the passengers can get off on a dock. And can you imagine getting 4,000 to 8,000 people off a ship in the open sea? If you think this is the last time this type of disaster will happen you are a fool.

    January 18, 2012 at 2:07 am |
  31. Alice

    Well I would be certain to choose a company that shows seriousness for the emergency drills before I cruise again. When I went on Celebrity they were VERY serious. They had a passenger list and would not sail with anyone on board who did not attend. There was no laughing or joking or discussion of other topics. We were made well aware that this was a serious exercise and we learned what to do. The Captain and crew were professional and I felt great trust that this wasn't a party boat to them. This is a good example perhaps Carnival should follow in the future.

    January 18, 2012 at 2:55 am |
  32. Nikki

    I love Carnival Cruises - been on two of them and was treated very well...Met the Captain and crew and all were very professional...This one Captain made a horrible mistake and will pay the price via the law and company he works for. Carnival will be taking a big hit in law suits for the deaths and from passengers which I hope they use good judgement when settling with these people...At this point – after an investigation and court judgements I will not say much more than offering my conolences and sorror for the crew and passengers and families of people lost in this horror. No one ever expects bad things to happen – but sadly they do sometimes when least expected.

    January 18, 2012 at 5:09 am |
  33. wheng

    it wont stop and thats for sure..no one wanted this to happen,to CostaConcordia...

    January 18, 2012 at 5:12 am |
  34. David

    No, I wouldnt take a cruise. Not just because the things are just giant floating malls, or floating petrie dishes, or because they are driven by a guy who shouldnt be at the controls of a Saturn let alone a ship. No, I wont cruise because I dont want to left in the lurch thanks to the cruise lines small print, and I certainly dont want a 'voucher' for a future cruise when my ship runs aground.

    January 18, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  35. YOUNG

    I think its very conspiracy from scratch.
    Everything might not be true as you see in the article.
    What if the captain was threatened, somehow, not to talk about defect of cruise?
    What if there was a VIP who were not revealed for confidentiality and he was targeted?
    There are conceivable occasions that cannot be just ruled out.
    People lie for their sake. Sometimes, I think I even question to my life over what can be true.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  36. rossella

    Scusate se scrivo in italiano, ma il mio inglese è troppo stentato… Volevo dire che sono d'accordo con la signora Vanessa,
    Cioè è vero che si tratta di una grave tragedia e nessuno lo mette in discussione, però in realtà in pochissime ore sono state tratte in salvo più di 4200 persone con tutta la disorganizzazione che si è creata a bordo e con il comandante che ha sicuramente perso la testa,resta comunque un buon risultato..Ma volevo anche ricordare che purtroppo sono tragedie che vanno messe in conto e cioè l'errore umano esiste non né i primo né sarà mai l'ultimo, per cui non creiamo panico su aziende che hanno al loro attivo centinaia di persone che lavorano restando fuori di casa per mesi , e soprattutto consideriamo la grave crisi mondiale lavorativa ( soprattutto in Italia)… Vi prego di non considerare gli italiani tutti dei codardi e incompetenti la nostra industria marinara è fra le prime al mondo e in questo momento la tragedia del Giglio potrebbe danneggiare ulteriormente la nostra credibilità.. Vorrei anche ringraziare i tutti gli abitanti dell'Isola del Giglio
    che si sono adoperati senza tregua per aiutare tutte quelle persone in difficoltà..Grazie

    January 18, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  37. Finel

    In every job can happen to be one employe to broke the rules. Because of this idiot captain 11 people are dead and 19 still missing and Costa Crucero and Carnival will be affected along with theirs employees. Most of us ( I'm working for Carnival) we are doing well our job. My codoleances to those familys...

    January 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  38. bseely

    A rogue commander caused this crisis and that will be dealt with.
    Every passenger upon boarding should check out their life vest situation and the corridors for escape route. The safety training with the life boats should take place before the ship departs with repeats for the new passengers at each new boarding point before the ship leaves again.
    Unfortunately with so many disabled life boats on this situation, not even the safety training would have solved it.
    Every passenger has to be alert at all times to strange sounds and be ready to get to their cabin and grab their vests, even with no abandon ship warning given. Even carry a small flashlight at all times with you. If your passports and docs are in the ship's safe, they will eventually get returned to you. I say file copies of passports with a friend or relative who can at least electronically send you the basis to you somewhere after a disaster.. or robbery, the latter of which is more common.

    January 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  39. Brigid

    I have a cruise scheduled for Marhc. I never once considered not going. I don't cruise with the big boys - too commerical and crowded. I said with reputable, long time in the business company with their first concern, passanger safety and comfort. May pay a bit more, but much more enjoyable. I have cruised every year for 10 years and will not sotp now just because some idiot disobeyed SOP.

    January 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  40. Brigid

    John, there are transatlantic cruises. I took one last year - it was wonderful. Much better than flying! And cheaper than flying business or first class (took 6 days to cross from Spain to FLorida).

    January 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  41. Diana

    This has nothing to do with the size of the ship, it's human error, the Captain was careless!

    January 19, 2012 at 1:55 am |
  42. Katie

    I have been on two cruises. One to Bermuda, the other the Western Caribbean. It is a convenient way to see new sights. I imagine three hours into the cruise, only to have this happen, must have been terrifying. Who would have been prepared for this vacation nightmare? Vacation, a time to forget your worries and reconnect with nature, family and friends. For those who died and suffered from fear, may God's gentle hand guide them to eternal peace. My condolences to the families and friends of the deceased and missing.

    January 19, 2012 at 4:02 am |
  43. Zenia

    I have never been on a cruise and my sister and my I was planning to go to Bahama's in June....but this has made me not want to go, I know accidents happen but for the captain to jump ship was too much, he swore under oath that he would be the last to leave the ship and he broke that promise. I send my condolences to all the families!!!

    January 19, 2012 at 7:04 am |
  44. manuel rivas

    La mejor inversion en dinero es para disfrutar un crucero , es mas seguro que viajar en un avion y se podria hasta decir que un automovil , porque cuantos accidentes a diario con muchas muertes hay en el mundo en las autopistas. Recomiendo a aquellas personas que no lo han disfrutado, que hagan el primero y les aseguro que querran hacerlo todos los años

    January 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  45. Peggy M. Goldman

    Hopefully, the Concordia disaster will force some much-needed tightening of the rules, like conducting passenger drills and briefings before setting sail, rather than waiting 24 hours. Had the passengers been given a little information at the outset, they might have known where to find life jackets (other than in their cabins) and they might have been better able to cope with a rapid evacuation. However, I agree completely with the statement that now is a good time to book a cruise. After this horrific event, safety will be the #1 goal of the industry, and in order to lure travelers who might be squeamish, bargains will be found everywhere. This incident was an anomaly. It is in no way indicative of the level of safety to which the industry, as a whole, adheres. In fact, considering the many millions of travelers who have taken a cruise in the past year, it seems that cruising is among the safest of all means of travel.

    Peggy Goldman
    President, Friendly Planet Travel

    January 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
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  48. Gwei Lo

    I worked on various cruise ships for nine years. The worst situation I ever experienced was navigating a storm on the Behring Sea between Alaska and Russia. Our captain (from France) stayed up for 72 hours making sure we got through safely. At no time did we fear for our lives. I can truthfully tell you that ALL the crew – even the ship's band – are trained in safety, medical and fire procedures. We were frequently boarded by USCG and tested by them. This is the same for ALL cruise ships, whether owned by Carnival or not. In the last 20 years, how many ships have gone down resulting in loss of life? Nowhere close to as many lives lost as a result of air disasters over the same period.
    Even bus or train wrecks have taken more lives. Having worked on them, I wouldn't hesitate to be a passenger on a cruise ship. Just stay away from the Midnight Buffet ....

    February 6, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  49. David

    Those hot pools on cruises are so full of fat people that they feel like whale rendering tanks. I went on a cruise once, and I hated it. I felt trapped the whole time with thousands of strangers, many of them with nasty manners. And the suitcase zoo before and after was a nightmare. No thanks.

    February 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
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