Tag-Archive for » Costa Concordia «

Costa’s ’Tiara’ Jewel Of The Fleet

ON THE COSTA DIADEMA — The first thing you should know about Costa Cruises, if you don’t already, is that this is not some obscure cruise line that nobody ever heard of before one of its ships — the Concordia — became a graveyard for 32 of its passengers.

Costa is big.

So big that it has more than half the European market in an industry that was growing until 2008 happened. To give that a little perspective, Carnival and Royal Caribbean TOGETHER don’t have 50 per cent of the North American market, which in part is because the two American cruise lines have more competition than Costa does.

In the world of corporate cruise real estate, Costa “owns” Europe.

This 67-year-old cruise line — its roots go back 161 years to the freighters on which it was founded — has the second-newest cruise ship in the world and 15 in the fleet. TheCosta DiademaDiadema arrived a month before Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, which will be replaced in the “world’s newest” category when P&O’s Britannia comes along later this month.

The Diadema’s name comes from the Italian word for “tiara” not “diamond” as might be logical. Nonetheless, it is the cruise line’s “jewel” and will be Costa’s flagship for years. News of its successor will come much sooner…in fact, company President Neil Palomba intimated to reporters on the Diadema this week that an announcement about the next Costa ship was weeks away.

This is a fun ship, which shouldn’t be a surprise since Costa is part of the Carnival conglomerate and “FunShips” are Carnival’s trademark. It's wildly colorful and gregarious Diadema poolin a clientele that's 90 per cent Europeans. They clearly love it and North Americans probably would if it ever crosses the ocean. 

Because it has such a busy Mediterranean port schedule, spending five days on it — as we are — clearly isn’t long enough.

In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll tell you why.

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival ships on the move

Carnival Inspiration
4 nights
May 4, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Catalina, Ensenada
Inside: $219
Cost per day: $54
www.carnival.com

From Something Bad, Something Good

In the interests of balanced reporting or commentary, here’s a good and bad (or bad and good) item about cruise ship safety.

Bad…

The captain of the late Costa Concordia is on trial right now, and that revives the memories of the tragedy off the island of Giglio on Friday the 13th almost three years ago. The captain’s Concordia routedefense is that he took the ship off course — and ultimately onto rocks that led to the deaths of 32 people — because (a) he wanted to salute a retired captain living on Giglio (b) it was a favor to the ship’s head waiter, who was from Giglio and (c) there was commercial value in doing a “fly-by” that would impress passengers, something he had “often” done.

Good…

Funded by the European Union, the Lynceus Project — winner of the 2014 Lloyd's List Global Award for “Innovation” — has developed a way to track people on ships in an emergency by embedding wireless tags in life jackets. This will allow the ship’s crew to pinpoint the exact location of every person on board, as well as the location of anybody who has fallen overboard. Results have been submitted to the International Maritime Organization with the hope the devices will soon be used on cruise ships and ferries.

The project was a direct result of two crashes: the Concordia and a ferry full of school children, last April in South Korea.

Today at portsandbows.com: Azamara serves long notice

Holland America Eurodam
7 nights
January 4, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Half Moon Cay
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57
www.hollandamerica.com

The Fame Of Man Named Francesco

There we were late Saturday night, settling in to watch the late news, and along comes Francesco…again. If you don't know who "Francesco" is just Google the name and chances are you'll discover he's one of the four most famous Francescos in the world, according to Google.

The last name is Schettino and if that doesn't ring a bell then you haven't been paying attention. He was the last captain of the Concordia (a name likely never to be used Francesco Schettinoagain for a cruise-ship christening) and he has been charged with manslaughter over the deaths of 32 passengers. Yesterday, hours before the start of the Concordia's final journey — from the Italian island of Giglio to Genoa, where it will be dismantled — the ex-captain spoke publicly about the disaster when he was interviewed by Italy's consumer protection agency.

He laid responsibility at the feet of the helmsman, although this was hardly newsworthy since it was the same thing he said, in court, some months ago. He admitted that he took the Concordia off course, but the helmsman made a right turn instead of a left, and that's why the ship crashed on the rocks. There was no mention of why the captain abandoned ship.

There are lots of people who'd like Francesco Schettino to go away, which he could do for decades, and not all of them are victims families looked for closure or cruise-line officials looking for a merciful end to an accident that haunts the industry.

Some of them are just people lying in bed on a Saturday night, watching the news.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Carnival, New Orleans make a deal

Sapphire Princess
17 nights
September 3, 2014
ShanghaiNagasakiBusanTaipeiHong KongDe NangHo Chi Minh CityBangkokSingapore
Inside: $1,199
Cost per day: $70
www.princess.com

In The Wake Of Tragedy On The Water…

Here's a sobering question that probably won't have a conclusive answer:

Following the gut-wrenching and tragic ferry accident last week off the shores of South Korea, how is the fear of dying in a ship going to impact the cruise industry?

Seasoned cruisers are unlikely to develop such a fear and are more likely to classify the tragedy as an accident, the kind that could also happen in a car or a train or a plane. People new to cruising might think twice about booking a cruise and the greatest number of new cruisers these days comes from Asia.

Yes, it was a ferry that sank, not a cruise ship. However, news organizations were drawing parallels this week between the ferry in South Korea and the Costa Concordia in Italy, where 32 people died when the big cruise ship hit rocks and tipped onto its side.

The point is, something that's new can be fragile, and judging by the way cruise lines are moving ships across the Pacific, that's the newest hotbed for cruising. 

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Carnival Glory
7 nights
May 31, 2014
Miami (return): NassauSt. ThomasSan JuanGrand Turk 
Inside: $349
Cost per day: $49
www.carnival.com

Is That A 'Cruise' Ship Wa-y-y-y Down South?

The sage of the Russian ship ice-locked in Antarctica has been a news item since Christmas Day because, well, how would you like to be one of the 74 people on a ship surrounded by frozen water and freezing air? 

The likelihood that all passengers will soon be rescued — and remaining crew members will somewhere down the line — means that as a news story this one will quickly fade from the public psyche.

Unlike the Carnival Triumph.

But that was a cruise ship, you say?

And what do you think the Academician Shokalskiy is?

The fact that it's from Russia (the Costa Concordia was from Italy) shouldn't make any difference. It is a cruise ship. Aside from crew, there are 52 passengers…some scientists, some tourists, many from Australia. The cruise was an expedition to Antarctica ship in ice

-Photo: ABC News

mark the 100th anniversary of an Antarctic journey by a famous Australian explorer. That makes it a theme cruise.

What's different from this unfortunate incident and the others noted here is that (a) in the case of the Triumph, the "accident" was caused by man and not an act of God and (b) in the case of the Concordia, there was no loss of life.

But if the ship stuck in the ice was from one of the major cruise lines (some do go to Antarctica, by the way), is it possible that there would be an immediate flurry of questions? Did the ship venture into uncharted waters and risk passenger safety? Was there a meteorologist on board to track weather systems? Did the captain hit an iceberg? Who was at fault…somebody must be at fault?

Functioning in obscurity, like the Academician Shokalskiy, does have its merits.

And the fact that it happened where it did may teach people — specifically proof readers — that Antarctica is not spelled "Antartica."

Carnival Miracle
7 nights
February 22, 2014
Long Beach (return): Puerto VallartaCabo San Lucas 
Inside: $589
Cost per day: $84
www.carnival.com

  • Categories

  • Archives