A year after the wreck the Costa Concordia left its waters, the picture-perfect Italian island is struggling to stay afloat economically. If you had asked anyone on this Tuscan island last July what life would be like without the Costa Concordia shipwreck, you likely would have heard it would be better without the hulking cruise ship slumped on its shores. Now the residents of this picture-perfect paradise now kind of miss the massive wreck.
Planes, trains, automobiles and even ships will be taking Americans to their Memorial Day destinations as more people are on the go this year compared with last. According to AAA Travel, 36 million Americans, 1.5% more than last year, will travel 50 miles or more for Memorial Day. The travel period in the report covers Thursday, May 22, through Monday, May 26.
In January 2012 the Costa Concordia ran aground off the Tuscan coast in Italy with 4,252 passengers and crew onboard. Thirty-two of them died – twice the total of fatalities between 2005 and 2010.
In February of 2013, an engine room fire broke out aboard the Carnival Triumph off the coast of Mexico, leaving the ship and its approximately 4,000 passengers and crew stranded and adrift for five days until tugs could bring the vessel into port. Investigative reports by news agencies later stated that crew members and the company itself were aware of the risk before the vessel set sail. And just two years earlier, the Carnival Splendor had a similar engine room fire.
Passenger safety and security are at the forefront of the cruise industry these days, and for good reason. According to the website Cruisejunkie.com, 18 crew and passengers went overboard in 2013, 24 in 2012, and 23 in 2011. The site also reports that 66 cruise and ferry vessels have run aground since 2005 and 55 vessels, large and small, have actually sunk between 1979 and 2013.
Safe Passage Maritime Executive
Cruise liner companies have experienced an unwelcome period in the spotlight, staring with the Costa Concordia disaster that killed 30 passengers and left two missing (presumed dead), followed by a series of cruises suffering a mix of health and/or mechanical issues, culminating in the expedition that got caught in the ice in December last year — although the latter incident was not a large cruise liner.
The Battle of the Cruise Liners Motley Fool
At first glance, the cruise industry’s public-relations disasters during the past two years would seem like enough to make almost any business take on water.
Since the Costa Concordia ran aground off Italy in January 2012, killing 32 people, the industry has been besieged by mechanical failures, disease outbreaks, congressional scrutiny and a recent class-action suit filed by passengers on the Carnival Triumph, which was adrift in the Gulf of Mexico for days.
Yet despite repeated images of stranded, frustrated passengers, business has been booming — and the trend is unlikely to stop anytime soon, industry watchers say.
Efforts in Congress to tighten regulation have stalled, and the twin pillars of the cruise economy — affordable prices and repeat customers — have stood as a bulwark against other problems.
“People just keep coming back,” said Andrea Stokes, who tracks the tourism industry for Ipsos, a global market-research company.
In the U.S., she said, recent efforts by the cruise industry to expand to ports in Baltimore and the New York City area have helped open the market to new vacationers.
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A couple of eye-popping new ships, the ever-growing popularity of river cruising, and efforts to restore consumer confidence are among the headlines in cruise news as 2014 unfolds.
But don’t expect ships to keep getting bigger. Instead, look for theme park-style attractions and new offerings in dining and entertainment. Here are some details.
THE BIG PICTURE
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents 95 percent of cruise capacity worldwide with 63 member cruise lines, forecasts 21.7 million guests will cruise this year, up from 21.3 million in 2013.
The Caribbean remains the world’s most popular cruise destination, included on 37 percent of global cruise itineraries, followed by a 19 percent share for the Mediterranean.
Cruise trends 2014: Image rehab and new ships Huff Post Travel
The Costa Concordia shipwreck is one of several reasons why Copenhagen Malmo Port (CMP) expects its first ever decline in the number of cruise guests and calls. Other Baltic Sea ports are also expected to be hit.
After many years with double-digit growth rates the Baltic Sea cruise market looks set to take a breather in 2014. The cruise business accounts for approx. 13-15 percent of Copenhagen Malmo Port’s revenue, and according to COO Cruise and Ferries, Arnt Møller Pedersen, the decline will not be insignificant.
“We predict a 5-10 percent decline in guests and calls in 2014,” he tells ShippingWatch.
This year, 356 cruise ships called in CMP, and a total of 840,000 vacationing guests have visited Copenhagen and Malmo, but next year the entire Baltic Sea region will feel the effect of several factors weighing down the combined cruise market.
Costa Concordia accident hits Baltic Sea ports Shipping Watch
A special commission on Tuesday approved a plan to divert cruise ships away from Venice’s historic center by 2016, but activists seeking to rid the city of the giant ships expressed reservations about the proposed new route.
The fatal sinking of the Costa Concordia in January 2012 ratcheted up pressure to divert the ships from the central Giudecca canal and St. Mark’s Basin. Currently, cruise ships pass within 300 meters (1,000 feet) of St. Mark’s Square, granting a stunning view to those aboard the ship but presenting a jarring sight against the backdrop of Venice’s Byzantine architecture.
Russia is chartering a cruise ship for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi from an Italian company that operated the cruise ship which sank in 2012 off Italy, killing 32 people.
State-owned Rosmorport said in a statement Monday it has signed a deal with Costa Conciere to charter a 12-deck ship with 726 cabins to provide accommodation for visitors coming to the Olympics, which are being held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
It’s been an annus horribilus for the cruise industry.
Highly publicised mechanical problems, an onboard fire, cancellations, deaths at sea and outbreaks of sickness have followed the Costa Concordia disaster to seriously mar the reputation of the otherwise booming industry.
Images of passengers living in filthy conditions and begging to be taken off a ship drifting at sea are not exactly the makings of travel wish-lists.
Nor are reports of passengers lying in corridors or being carried off ships because they’re too sick to do anything else; it’s a public relations nightmare.