Friday, January 13, 2012

Costa Concordia Evacuated

Updated Jan 23 - 130pm eastern time to update the results of Monday's search, decision to begin debunkering fuel, and latest Costa statement.

The 112,000-ton Costa Concordia was evacuated Friday night after it began taking on water through a gash opened in the hull and listing dangerously. The ship had left Civitavecchia earlier in the evening and was sailing north to Savona, near the Isola del Giglio at the time of the incident. Records showed 4231 people were aboard at the time, 3208 passengers and 1023 crew members.

The incident began about 9pm local time (3pm EST) about two hours after leaving Civitavecchia. At a Monday morning press conference, Costa chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi said the ship was traveling too close to the shore, on a route not approved by the company, struck a rock which opened a gash in the ship's hull, allowing water to flood in, causing the electrical failure, and the ship began to list.

Costa first said in a statement Sunday afternoon that there are preliminary indications that there was "significant human error on the part of the ship’s master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences. The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and in handling the emergency the captain appears not to have followed standard Costa procedures."

Costa said Captain Schettino joined Costa in 2002 as a safety officer and was appointed captain in 2006.

In the press conference Monday morning, Foschi said the company now believes the captain "wanted to show the ship to the Island of Giglio, so he decided to change the course of the ship to go closer to the island and pass through in front of the bigger city that sits on the island." He said that once before, in August 2011 this was done, but in that instance it was planned and authorized by Costa, and a route was approved by the company, but even then it was not nearly as close to shore then as the ship came last Friday. (Press reports from last August say the event was very popular with island residents who came out by the hundreds to cheer as they watched the ship pass.)

Foschi said that the ship had not initially run aground in Friday's incident. There was plenty of water under the hull when it struck the small rock. Foschi said the rock is charted on detailed charts, but not on others. He does not know if the captain, who made the decision to change the course of the ship from the normal route, was using the more detailed charts.

Passengers reported hearing a loud noise followed shortly thereafter by a general power outage, and the ship quickly began to list.

The collision opened a gash in the hull more than 100 feet long, below the waterline. Photos of the gash indicate the damage was caused by the ship striking an object in the water. The pieces of the hull appear to be pushed into the ship rather than bending outward as they would if there were an explosion inside the ship. That can be seen in this Reuters photo taken Saturday morning.

There is still no time line available, but according to Costa, the situation deteriorated relatively rapidly. It is believed that within one and two hours after the hole was opened in the hull, the ship had developed a 20-degree list, as shown in a photo published by Il Secolo.

Many passengers are reporting that they were being told there was only an electrical problem and to go to their staterooms. This well could have been because there were no immediate announcements from the bridge, due to their working to assess the problem and subsequently, the damage, before making an announcement. Costa confirmed that the captain, Francesco Schettino, was on the bridge at the time of the accident.

Many passengers report hearing an announcement to report to their muster stations, but many others did not hear it. It’s possible this was due to a language problem.

The decision to abandon ship apparently came very quickly, and there rightfully would have been a delay while preparations were made. There was confusion reported during the evacuation, although there is video being posted that shows passengers waiting quietly and orderly at their muster stations. The confusion seemed to be caused by the difficulty in launching lifeboats as a result of the list and also by passengers pressing to launch them before the final order had been received by crew members to launch the lifeboats.

American media, talking with American passengers seems to be making much of the fact that passengers who boarded in Civitavecchia had not yet had their emergency drill, and that may have added confusion for some. Their drill was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, within 24 hours of departure as prescribed under SOLAS regulations. The ship makes a circuitous routing with passengers boarding at most ports, so most passengers, who would have boarded at ports prior to Civitavecchia, would have already attended their own emergency drills. Only 696 passengers of the 3208 passengers boarded at Civitavecchia and therefore had not had the actual emergency drill. When they boarded, however, there is a video playing in the stateroom that explains the emergency procedures, and as prescribed by SOLAS regulations, there is signage in each cabin that gives basic emergency instructions, including where that particular cabin's muster station is located.

From the various photos being published of the ship listing that were taken during the night, such as this one published in the Daily Mail, it would seem that the ship was changing position, as it was probably being maneuvered closer to shore. It appears at the end, the master intentionally grounded the vessel, which would be proper procedure to prevent it from sinking.

Photos taken Saturday morning show that the grounded ship was not in deep enough water to keep it upright, and it had rolled onto its side, revealing the gash that was under the waterline.

Video shot Saturday morning is very revealing. There are also daylight aerial views in some videos. La Repubblica now has some closer video of the gash that was under the waterline.

The number of missing people was adjusted Monday afternoon to 29 by the Italian Coast Guard and reported by ANSA Italian state news agency. That includes 4 crew members and 25 passengers, including two Americans. As people had been located the number unaccounted for was previously being reported as a total of 15. It was raised when families of those previously thought accounted for reported they have not heard from their relatives. It is still possible that some of the number of people unaccounted for may be due to record keeping or communication errors. Proving that point, the number was adjusted downward by one on Thursday when a German woman on the list contacted Costa to tell them she was home and very much accounted for.

The search of the ship above water and below the water are continuing, with divers now opening additional holes in the hull to provide easier access.

Saturday evening, searchers found two people, a man and a woman from South Korea, in a stateroom that was above water, and they have been rescued. Sunday morning, a rescue team located a third person, an injured Italian crew member, and airlifted him to safety. Sunday afternoon, two bodies were found and recovered aboard the ship. Monday morning, an additional body was discovered in the ship, bringing the death toll to six confirmed dead. Search operations underwater in the ship were suspended for a time Monday afternoon due to an approaching storm. There was concern that the rough waters created by the storm could cause the ship to shift several inches. On Tuesday, five more bodies were recovered from the ship, bringing the death toll to eleven.

The search was again suspended on Wednesday when high seas began moving the ship, and there were fears for the safety of the divers. Searches of the ship resumed on Thursday, taking advantage of better weather. As was forecast, Friday the seas turned choppy and the search of the ship was again suspended when instruments indicated the ship was moving slightly. Authorities decided it was too dangerous for anyone to be on the ship. Late on Friday the search of the ship above the water line resumed.

The search resumed on Saturday, now under the command of Italy's civil protection agency. They are employing some new methods. They have put together some of the last known movements of the missing, and are searching based on those, and on Saturday, they did find the body of another woman toward the stern of the ship, bringing the death toll to twelve. It was also revealed that divers are now using remote control cameras to search the area below the waterline.

When searching resumed on Sunday, the body of a woman was found on Deck 7, bringing the confirmed death toll to 13. Monday's search found two more bodies, two women found near the ship's internet cafe, bringing the total confirmed dead to 15.

Italian officials also announced on Monday, that they have decided the ship is stable and not in imminent danger of sliding off the shelf and further under water, so work can begin on Tuesday to being removing the fuel aboard the vessel simultaneously with continued search efforts.

The Italian investigation has already begun. Authorities recovered the ship's "black boxes" on Sunday. Much like an airliner's, they record exactly what the ship was doing and where it was which will prove valuable in determining the cause of the accident.

The local prosecutor has arrested the ship's captain and has filed charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship (before all passengers had left the vessel). The captain made his first appearance in court Tuesday, and has now been granted house arrest at his home near Naples. A transcript of the captain's radio exchange on Friday night with the captain of the local coast guard, has now been released, and it does appear the ship's captain is admitting he is not on the ship, and the coast guard captain is ordering him back on the ship. Reports indicate the prosecutor is now also considering charges against three other officers who were on the ship.

The vessel is now under the control of the prosecutor, and Costa may access it only with his permission. The line has engaged a specialized salvage company to help establish a perimeter around the ship to minimize the environmental impact.

At Monday's press conference, Foschi said there are approximately 2300 tons of fuel of several types still in the ship's tanks, but there is no indication any of it is escaping. He said that once control of the ship is returned to Costa, the first priority will be safely removing that fuel from the ship, and then removal of the ship.

Wednesday afternoon, Costa issued a statement repeating what CND reported over the weekend, that the company had retained Smit Salvage, experts in the field, to plan how to remove the the fuel from Costa Concordia. Costa said today, they anticipate Smit beginning that operation by the end of the week. (It did not begin immediately because it cannot begin until the search of the vessel is completed and it has been returned to them by the prosecutor.) Smit had already been allowed to put into action their plan to contain any spillages.

The five-year-old ship was just beginning a 7-day Mediterranean cruise from Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) that was to call at Savona (near Genoa), Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cagliari and Palermo.

Monday morning Carnival Corp issued a statement regarding the financial impact of the incident as required by US law. Carnival has insurance coverage for damage to the vessel with a deductible of $30 million and personal injury liability subject to additional deductible of $10 million. The company self-insures (meaning they carry no insurance) for the loss of use of the vessel.

The company is currently assessing how long the ship will be out of service. In the statement, the company said they expect Costa Concordia to be out of service for the rest of Carnival's fiscal year (which ends November 30), if not longer. For the balance of the fiscal year, that would amount to $85-$95 million. Carnival said they anticipate other costs that are not possible to determine at this time.

On Tuesday afternoon, Micky Arison, the chairman of Carnival Corp, Costa's parent company, made a statement. On Wednesday, Costa issued another statement again expressing their condolences. Later Wednesday, Carnival Corp and Costa jointly issued a statement discussing their commitment to their customers affected by the incident. They can be accessed with the other official statements at the link below.

On Thursday morning Costa issued a statement to advise they are contacting all passengers who were aboard Costa Concordia at the time of the accident to be sure that they are well and have returned home. They are also confirming to them that a refund for the cruise along with all their expenses connected to it is on the way. The line is also contacting all passengers and "all consumer protection associations to determine indemnity for the hardship endured, with the support of the tour operator association of each country." A copy of the statement is available at the link below.

There is being much made in the European press of a woman aboard the ship that reports say the captain was spending time with the evening of the incident. She is being characterized as a stowaway, or someone who was brought aboard without a ticket or being registered as aboard. On Thursday afternoon, Costa issued a statement regarding this verifying that the woman in question did purchase a ticket. A copy of the statement is available at the link below.

At the end of the day Thursday, Carnival Corp announced they are unilaterally moving forward with an initiative to examine all the safety and emergency procedures on each of their brands, despite their "excellent safety record over the years." Carnival chairman Micky Arison said, "This review will evaluate all practices and procedures to make sure that this kind of accident doesn't happen again." The press release is available at the link below.

Monday afternoon, Costa issued a statement in response to many news stories theorizing that there were person aboard not on the ship's manifest. The statement reiterates the line's policy not to do this, and details the policies in place which would limit that possibility. The statement can be accessed though the link below.

Late this week, Costa began to put part of their attention back on the business of selling cruises. The line announced that Costa Concordia would be replaced on the 7-day western Mediterranean route first by NeoRomantica and then later this spring by Costa Magica. The line has been advising travel agents of special offers being made to passengers who were booked for future cruises on Costa Concordia.

Costa is also allowing passengers booked on any of their ships to cancel without penalty if they are concerned about the safety of sailing on the line. To do so, they must advise the line by February 7.

Official statements received from Costa Crociere and Carnival Corp (Costa's parent) can be found here.

Statements Regarding Costa Concordia Evacuation

These are statements issued by Costa Crociere and Carnival Corp (Costa's parent) regarding the evacuation of Costa Concordia. Our main news story which is being updated on an ongoing basis is located here.

Statement by Costa Crociere - issued January 27, 2012, 940am EST

Costa Cruises Details Costa Concordia Guest Reimbursement

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2012) -- Costa Crociere wishes to again express its profound condolences to the families of the victims, continued sympathy to the families of the missing and deep regret and sorrow for the damages and hardship the Costa Concordia accident caused to all its guests.

Costa Crociere announced a compensation proposal for guests who have returned home after the Jan. 13 tragic Costa Concordia accident. This proposal is the result of negotiations between Costa Crociere and consumer associations protecting guests’ interests, with the support of multiple tourism and travel industry associations. In Italy, the company has already reached an agreement with the National Council of Consumers and Users, a national organization.

The families of the deceased and guests who were injured and required medical treatment on site will be covered under a separate proposal that will take into account their individual circumstances.

The compensation package for Costa Concordia guests who have returned home includes:

• A lump sum of 11,000 euros (US$14,458.07 at today’s exchange rate) per person as indemnification, covering all patrimonial and nonpatrimonial damages, including loss of baggage and personal effects, psychological distress and loss of enjoyment of the cruise vacation;

• Reimbursement of the value of the cruise, including harbor taxes;

• Reimbursement of air and bus transfers included in the cruise package;

• Full reimbursement of travel expenses to reach the port of embarkation and return home;

• Reimbursement of any medical expenses resulting from the cruise;

• Reimbursement of expenses incurred on board during the cruise.

This compensation package is higher than the current indemnification limits provided for in international conventions and laws currently in force. The 11,000 euro lump-sum payment is offered to all Costa Concordia passengers, including nonpaying children, regardless of their age.

Costa also has pledged not to deduct from this sum any amount paid by any insurance policy stipulated by guests. In addition, the company will return all goods stored in cabin safes, where retrieval is possible.

Costa Crociere also has pledged to provide a program for psychological assistance to any guests that request it. The company has further agreed to offer customers the ability to cancel any upcoming cruise booked before Jan. 13, on any of its routes, without penalty through Feb. 7, 2012.

Dedicated operation units will handle claims to ensure timely resolution. Payments will be credited by the company within seven days of receipt of the acceptance of the proposal. Guests should e-mail or call 954-266-5693 for assistance.

Statement by Costa Crociere - issued January 24, 2012, 1000am EST

Costa Cruises: Clarifications on discounts and promotional offers

Jan 24, 2012 - With reference to news reports on discounts and promotional offers, Costa Cruises feels bound to point out that the company has never offered any discount on future cruises to guests who were on board the Costa Concordia for the cruise of January 13th and involved in the tragic accident. The information published by a newspaper and reported in various news outlets is totally unfounded, as is confirmed by the English passenger who was quoted by the newspaper.

Costa Cruises reiterates that after the tragic accident the company’s priority has always been to provide the maximum possible assistance and solace to the people involved. From the outset the company has been fully aware of and saddened by the suffering and hardship endured by guests and crew members and has acted with this firmly borne in mind.

On a joint basis with rescue teams, the Company worked to provide evacuated passengers and crew members with all the necessary assistance to ensure they were able to return home. Subsequently it contacted guests by telephone, after they had returned home, to check on their physical and emotional wellbeing, and to confirm that they will receive a refund for the cruise and all material expenses relating to it.

As already announced, the company welcomes discussion with its guests and all consumer protection associations to determine indemnity for the hardship endured, with the support of tourism sector trade associations with which it has been in contact for days.

Driven by its sense of ethics and the values of fairness and responsibility which guide it, the Company has also given all customers with bookings for future Costa cruises the possibility, if feeling afraid, to cancel their cruise booking by giving notice no later than February 7th. All travel agents who work with the Company were informed of this days ago.

Costa Cruises would also like to clarify that starting on the day after the accident, all advertising initiatives planned were cancelled out of respect for those affected by this tragedy. The Company was unable to stop only one postal promotion which had already been sent to some customers at the end of December.

Costa Cruises is incredulous at the disgraceful and unfounded assertions made about the Company without any form of verification.

Statement by Costa Crociere - issued January 23, 2012, 100pm EST
Costa Cruises clarifies that the company has extremely strict systems in place to control access to ships, in addition to the port area access controls performed by the authorities before embarkation.

Access on board is granted only on the basis of:

- a ticket and an identity check for cruise customers;

- an optically read ID card for crew members;

- the entry of the person’s name on the visitor list, after approval by the Company and the Staff Captain, in addition to the presentation of a valid identity document which is retained on embarkation.

The name of any person who departs with the ship is registered in on board systems. In addition, a photograph is taken of passengers on embarkation, which is then associated with an ID bar code found on the embarkation form and the Costa Card given to passengers when on board (this card acts as each passenger’s personal identification badge for entering and leaving the ship and for making use of on board services).

No one on board has the power to waive security procedures. The company takes severe disciplinary action in the event of violation.

Precise lists of every person embarked on the ship and who departed with it (guests, crew and any engineers) are transmitted to the Company immediately after departure.

In the case of the accident involving the Costa Concordia, these precise lists have been given to the authorities in relation to operations to identify the survivors, victims and missing.

Furthermore, the company categorically denies the rumour that there were “clandestine workers” on board.

Costa Cruises applies the highest possible standards of security, safety and social accountability. The company is certified as regards social accountability (SA 8000) and safety (OHSAS 18001) by RINA in the framework of BEST4 certification, which also covers the environment and quality, and is subject to inspections by the certification society and the maritime authorities in Italy and in the countries visited by its ships.

The company reiterates, as clarified yesterday, that:

“with reference to the news reported by several media channels today that a company employee has allegedly received the PC belonging to Captain Schettino, Costa Cruises, after contacting the person involved, categorically denies that it has received anything at all from Captain Schettino.”

Statement by Carnival Corp - issued January 19, 2012, 530pm EST
Carnival Corporation & plc Announces Comprehensive Audit and Review of Safety and Emergency Response Across All Its Cruise Lines
MIAMI, Jan. 19, 2012 -- Following the tragic Costa Concordia accident, Carnival Corporation & plc, parent company of Costa Cruises and nine leading cruise lines around the world, today announced a comprehensive audit and review of all safety and emergency response procedures across all of the company's cruise lines.

Carnival Corporation & plc and the cruise industry as a whole have maintained an excellent safety record over the years. "However, this tragedy has called into question our company's safety and emergency response procedures and practices," said Micky Arison, chairman and CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc. "While I have every confidence in the safety of our vessels and the professionalism of our crews, this review will evaluate all practices and procedures to make sure that this kind of accident doesn't happen again."

The review is being led by Captain James Hunn, a retired U.S. Navy Captain and currently the company's senior vice president of Maritime Policy & Compliance. Following a 32-year career in the Navy, Hunn has held senior positions at Carnival Corporation & plc for nearly a decade, focusing on corporate-wide efforts to establish maritime policy standards, while overseeing the company's health, environmental, safety, and security practices.

Hunn and senior health and safety executives from each of the lines will review all safety and emergency response policies and procedures, officer and crew training and evaluation, bridge management and company-wide response and support efforts. Hunn will report to the Health, Environment, Safety & Security Committee of the Board, and to Howard Frank, vice chairman and chief operations officer of Carnival Corporation & plc.

In addition, the Health, Environment, Safety & Security Committee is engaging outside industry-leading experts in the fields of emergency response organization, training and implementation to conduct an audit of all of the company's emergency response and safety procedures and to conduct a thorough review of the Costa Concordia accident.

Frank said, "This company-wide initiative will identify lessons learned and best practices to further ensure the security and safety of all of our passengers and crew."

Carnival Corporation & plc also supports the call for a comprehensive evaluation of safety regulations by the International Maritime Organization, which was requested earlier today by the Cruise Lines International Association

Statement by Costa Crociere - issued January 19, 2012, 8am EST
Genoa, January 19th 2012 - Costa Cruises would like to clarify that the law as it stands, safety regulations and the control systems applied meticulously by the company do not permit the embarkation of unregistered passengers. Based on the pictures broadcast by the media, the woman stated as being in the company of Captain Schettino on the evening of January 13th was certainly embarked on January 13th in Civitavecchia and duly registered. The company is ready to provide the authorities, when requested, with the identity of the person and the number of the ticket purchased.

Statement by Costa Crociere - issued January 19, 2012, 3am EST
Costa Cruises confirms that it is contacting all guests on the Costa Concordia at the time of the tragic accident to make sure they have returned home and are well, and to confirm that they will receive a refund for the cruise and all material expenses relating to it.

Costa Crociere also reiterates that it is in contact with its guests and all consumer protection associations to determine indemnity for the hardship endured, with the support of the tour operator association of each country.

Costa Cruises confirms both the constant commitment and care it devotes every day to safety and its dedication to relations with the guests who represent the company’s most important asset, as they have done for more than sixty years.

Costa Cruises would like once again to express its great sadness over the victims and its support for their families.

Statement by Costa Crociere and Carnival Corp - issued January 18, 2012, 6pm EST
Costa Cruises and Carnival Corporation & plc Reiterate Commitment to Support Costa Concordia Passengers and Crew

GENOA, Italy and MIAMI, Jan. 18, 2012 -- Costa Cruise Lines and its parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc, today confirmed their commitment to provide full support to those passengers, crew and families of the victims of the Costa Concordia grounding.

"I give my personal assurance that we will take care of each and every one of our guests, crew and their families affected by this tragic event. Our company was founded on this principle and it will remain our focus," said Micky Arison, chairman and CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc.

In this spirit, Costa has been arranging lodging and transportation for affected passengers and crew members to return home. Every passenger and crew member or their family is being contacted and the company has offered its assistance and counseling as needed, and will be addressing personal possessions lost on board. Costa has also begun the process of refunding all voyage costs including both passenger cruise fares and all costs incurred while on board. Our senior management teams are working together to determine additional support.

"During this time of tragedy, we are doing our very best to provide the needed support to the Costa Concordia passengers, crew and their families," said Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman and CEO of Costa Cruises.

Statement issued Wednesday, January 18 - 149pm EST by Costa Crociere:
Genoa, January 18th 2012 – For Costa Cruises protecting the environment is an integral part of its corporate mission, as it has demonstrated by obtaining the most stringent international certifications (UNIEN ISO 14001). The company therefore immediately understood the need to promptly address issues concerning the protection of the marine environment. In the hours immediately after the accident, Costa Cruises therefore commissioned worldwide leading salvage experts Smit Salvage BV to draw up a plan to recover the reserves of fuel from the Costa Concordia. Right from the outset, this plan has been shared with the competent authorities and, as a result of full cooperation with them, will be put into effect by the end of the week.

Statement issued Wednesday, January 18 - 12n CET by Costa Crociere:
We are deeply saddened to learn that additional people have been found during the search of the Concordia and extend our heartfelt sympathies to their families. We continue to cooperate with authorities to support the rescue and recovery efforts, and to help secure the vessel to ensure that there is no environmental impact. Our main priority remains the location of those passengers and crew who have not yet been accounted for. While rescue efforts continue we are reaching out to all our guests and their families to offer further assistance.

Statement issued Tuesday, January 17 - 4:45pm by Carnival Corp Chairman and CEO Micky Arison:
We are deeply saddened by the reports of additional deaths following the grounding of the Costa Concordia. On behalf of the entire Carnival Corporation & plc team, I offer our heartfelt condolences to all of those families affected by this tragedy.

Our immediate priority continues to be supporting rescue and recovery efforts and looking after our guests and crew members, along with securing the vessel to ensure there is no environmental impact. My senior management team and I have been in continuous contact with the Costa executive team in Italy and we have our senior level technical experts on the ground to provide additional support for this tragic and highly unusual incident.

While this is a terribly sad time for everyone involved, we want to recognize the tremendous efforts of Concordia’s crew, who along with the Italian Coast Guard and authorities, helped to evacuate more than 4,000 passengers and crew members from the ship in very difficult conditions. And we continue to offer our deep gratitude to the Italian authorities for their support and ongoing efforts.

Statement issued by Costa, Sunday, January 15, - 415pm EST
We at Costa Cruises are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected.

Over the past 48 hours, more than 1,100 Costa employees have been working tirelessly in the wake of this terrible event. We are working closely with the authorities to support ongoing search-and-rescue operations, and are focusing on ensuring that all guests and crewmembers return home safely.

Our immediate priority is to account for all passengers and crew, and to secure the vessel to ensure that there are no environmental impacts. We have engaged the services of a top specialized salvage company to develop an action plan and help establish a protection perimeter around the ship. It should be noted that the Prosecutor has seized the ship and the DVR— the so-called “black box” containing all navigation data — and the vessel can be accessed by Costa only with permission from the authorities.

We are working with investigators to find out precisely what went wrong aboard the Costa Concordia. While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship’s master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences. The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and in handling the emergency the captain appears not to have followed standard Costa procedures. We are aware that the lead Prosecutor has leveled serious accusations against the ship’s captain, who joined Costa Crociere in 2002 as a safety officer and was appointed captain in 2006.

In light of these accusations and the continuing investigation, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.

As we are learning more about the event and the evacuation, however, it is becoming clear that the crew of the Costa Concordia acted bravely and swiftly to help evacuate more than 4,000 individuals during a very challenging situation. We are very grateful for all they have done.

Costa is committed to ensuring that no such incident ever occurs again. Our number-one priority is always the safety and security of our guests and crew, and we comply with all safety regulations. (See background on Costa safety below).

Background on Costa’s Commitment to Safety
Costa complies very strictly with all safety regulations and our personnel are committed, first and foremost, to guest safety and security.

All crewmembers hold a BST (Basic Safety Training) certificate and are trained and prepared in emergency management and to assist passengers abandoning the ship with numerous drills. Roles, responsibilities and duties are clearly assigned to all crewmembers. Every two weeks all crewmembers perform a ship evacuation simulation. A lifeboat and evacuation drill for all guests is conducted within 24 hours of embarking, as required by law. Costa has a computerized system that ensures all passengers undergo this drill.

The skills of Costa crew are periodically tested by Coast Guard authorities and an independent classification organization, per SMS (Safety Management Systems) requirements.

There are lifeboats and jackets on board in excess of the number required for all passengers and crew. Lifeboats are equipped with food and water supplies, first-aid kits and communication and signaling equipment. All life-saving appliances meet international standards and are subject to close, regular inspection by shipboard personnel and certification authorities. All Costa ships are certified by RINA and have been built to the highest standards and technologies.

From Carnival Corp, Saturday, January 14 - 3:45pm EST
This statement is from Carnival Corporation & plc in Miami, FL. Carnival Corporation & plc is the parent company of Costa Cruises.

On January 13, 2012, Costa Cruises' vessel, the Costa Concordia, departed from Civitavecchia, Italy with approximately 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members on a seven-day voyage. At approximately 10:00pm CET, the vessel struck rock off the coast of Isola del Giglio, Italy and sustained significant damage causing the ship to list severely. The order was given to abandon ship and deploy the lifeboats.

Tragically, there are reports of some deaths and injuries. This is a terrible tragedy and we are deeply saddened. Carnival Corporation & plc offers our sympathies and heartfelt condolences to all of the Costa Concordia guests, crew members and their families. Carnival Corporation & plc and Costa Cruises are committing our full resources to provide assistance and ensure that all guests and crew are looked after.

We want to express our deep gratitude to the Italian Coast Guard and local authorities and community members who have gone to extraordinary lengths to assist in the evacuation of the ship and provide support for our guests and crew.

We are working to fully understand the cause of what occurred. The safety of our guests and crew members remains the number one priority of Carnival Corporation & plc and all of our cruise lines.

Costa Concordia was sailing on a Mediterranean cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome) with scheduled calls at Savona, Italy; Marseille, France; Barcelona, Spain; Palma de Mallorca; Cagliari and Palermo, Italy.

Friends and family members may use the following country-specific contact numbers to reach Costa Cruises:

Italy 848505050
U.S. 800-462-6782
Austria 00438109006565
Germany +4940570121314
France +33155475554
Spain +34934875685
Portugal +34914185951
UK 08453510552
Carnival Corporation & plc is the parent company of ten cruise lines including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Ibero Cruises, P&O Cruises (UK) and P&O Cruises (Australia).

This statement was issued Saturday afternoon, January 14 at 1230pm by Costa Crociere’s Corporate Communications Department. According to Costa, this is the last statement that will be issued today, though updates will follow.
"I want to express our deep sorrow for this terrible tragedy,” said Gianni Onorato, President of Costa Crociere. “I am only now able to speak on behalf of Costa because, as you will understand, I have been at Isola del Giglio to be close to the rescue operations.

“First, I would like to thank all the authorities, law enforcement and volunteers who provided assistance to our guests and crew involved in this terrible event.

“We are not at this time able to answer all questions because the authorities are trying, with our cooperation, to understand the reasons for this incident.

“On the basis of the initial evidence — still preliminary — Costa Concordia, under the command of Master Francesco Schettino, was sailing its regularly scheduled itinerary from Civitavecchia to Savona, Italy, when the ship struck a submerged rock.

“Captain Schettino, who was on the bridge at the time, immediately understood the severity of the situation and performed a maneuver intended to protect both guests and crew, and initiated security procedures to prepare for an eventual ship evacuation.

“Unfortunately, that operation was complicated by a sudden tilting of the ship that made disembarkation difficult.

“Thanks to the commitment of the agencies coordinated by the Coast Guard, rescue operations have been continuing.

“From the moment we were alerted, Costa mobilized all its resources ashore to assist our guests and crewmembers, and to prevent potential environmental impacts.”

For information, friends and families members can contact the U.S. call center at 800-462-6782.

This statement was received from Costa Friday at 11:15pm:
"It is a tragedy that deeply affects our company. Our first thoughts go to the victims and we would like to express our condolences and our closeness to their families and friends. In this moment all our efforts are focused on the completion of the last emergency operations, besides providing assistance to the guests and the crew who were onboard in order to have them going back home as soon as possible. The emergency procedures started promptly to evacuate the ship. The slope, gradually taken over by the ship, made the evacuation extremely difficult. We would like to express our profound gratitude to the Coast Guard and all the forces coordinated by the Coast Guard, including the authorities and citizens of the island 'Isola del Giglio,' who have been involved in the rescue and assistance to guests and crew members. The company will fully co-operate with the relevant Authorities in order to determine the causes of what happened."

This statement was received from Costa Crociere Friday at 8pm:
Costa Cruises confirms the evacuation of about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members on board the Costa Concordia is currently on going near Isola del Giglio, The evacuation started promptly, but the position of the ship which si wornisening is making more diffuclt the last part of the evacuation At the moment, it is not possible to determine the reasons of the problem occurred. The Company is currently working with the highest commitment to provide all the needed assistance. Costa Concordia was sailing on a cruise across the Mediterranean Sea, starting from Civitavecchia with scheduled calls to Savona, Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cagliari, Palermo. About 1.000 passengers of Italian nationality were onboard, as well as more of 500 Germans, about 160 French and about 1.000 crew members.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Teen Alleges Rape on Enchantment of the Seas

A now-former crew member of Enchantment of the Seas has been indicted on federal charges of sexual abuse of a minor, which allegedly occurred during the December 17 sailing of the ship from Baltimore. (Note: This should not be confused with a very similar incident which occurred on the Christmas cruise of Allure of the Seas.)

According to the complaint in the case, on the last night of the cruise, December 23, the 25-year-old man had sex with a 14-year-old girl with whom he had become acquainted during the cruise.

On that night, she says she encountered him while she was alone in a hallway. He told her to come with him, and she followed him for some distance to the men's bathroom in the fitness center where the two had sex until another crew member knocked on the door.

Afterwards she was upset, but according to the complaint, he told her to return to her stateroom, act normally and take a shower, which she did. She later encountered the man on the ship, and said he asked her to say nothing because he could get in trouble.

Security cameras captured images of the 25-year-old man and the 14-year-old girl outside the locker room in the fitness center at approximately the time the girl alleges the incident took place. They also recorded images of the third crew member. The girl has identified all three of the people in the pictures.

When questioned by security personnel, the man denied having sex with any 14-year-old girls, but admitted to having sex with the girl in question, saying she had told him she was 16.

He is now awaiting trial on the federal charges in Baltimore.

The complete story appeared in the January 12, 2012, edition of Cruise News Daily.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crew Memeber Overboard from Monarch of the Seas

Royal Caribbean reports that a crew member witnessed a 25-year-old male crew member jumping overboard from Monarch of the Seas this morning at 5:45am when the ship was sailing in the Bahamas toward its scheduled call at Nassau. Video surveillance recordings later confirmed the man going overboard.

The incident was immediately reported, and the ship turned and began a search. All appropriate authorities were notified, including the Bahamian government. Three other cruise ships in the area joined the search. They were Carnival Sensation, Disney Dream and Norwegian Jewel. A US Coast Guard MH-60 helicopter was also dispatched from a US Navy base in the Bahamas to assist at the request of Bahamian authorities.

At 9am, the Bahamian Coast Guard released the cruise ships from the search and they continued on their way. The Bahamian Coast Guard and US Coast Guard are continuing their search.

The complete article appeared in the January 11, 2012, edition of Cruise News Daily.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cruising to Bermuda in 1939

Sailing to Bermuda isn't a new idea. It's always been a favorite vacation, and here are someone's home movies from their cruise to Bermuda in 1939.

Monday, January 9, 2012

MSC Peosia Runs Argound

The 90,000-ton MSC Poesia ran aground in the Bahamas off Port Lucaya early Saturday morning (January 7, 2012). It was mostly a non-event from the standpoint of the passengers, because the port was already scheduled to be tendered, and all services aboard could continue normally. Work continued through the day, and the ship was able to free itself with the assistance of four tugs late in the day.

There was no damage to the ship, and it made its Sunday call as scheduled and returned to Ft. Lauderdale this morning as planned.

The video below was shot by a local dive tour operator on Grand Bahama. While at the end, the voiceover includes a snarky comment about damage to the reef, the producer fails to recognize that (a) the ship was not grounded intentionally, and (b) that without the ship coming to the island, Grand Bahama Island would not have had the economic benefit of more than 2,500 passengers visiting for the day and buying shore excursions from local operators.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Meyer Floats Out Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy was floated out of the covered building dock this afternoon (January 8, 2012) at Meyer Werft's Papenburg (Germany) yard. The slow process was witnessed by several hundred people, mostly local, who had come to the yard for the event, complete with a few fireworks set off from the top of the ship and a tune from the ship's musical whistle.

There were intermittent showers during the hour-long process as the ship was towed into the lagoon, but the sun did shine as the engine tests began. At the completion, Disney Fantasy was docked at the yard's finishing dock. The next major step in the process will come when the ship will make its conveyance down the Ems River later this month.

Photos from this morning's event:

Photos courtesy of vid caps from and Meyer Werft live video coverage.

Video from Saturday when the ship is prepared for Sunday's operation shows more of Disney Fantasy's detail:

This excellent video shows detail of today's towing operation:

And last, but not least, the Disney perspective on the day's activities: