The events of last Friday night (Friday 13th as it happens) could well turn out to be a turning point in the cruise industry. As the Costa Concordia left the port of Rome for what should have been a routine cruise north towards Savona in northern Italy nobody onboard would have realised that events would take a dramatic turn.
Until the investigation into how the Costa Concordia, one of the worlds largest and modern cruise ships, somehow hit an under water rock and almost completely sank is concluded we can’t jump to conclusions. However, what is clear is that there needs to be answers as to how the ship ended up on its side so quickly and also why the evacuation seems to have been so chaotic. It can’t be easy to get nearly 4,000 passengers and crew off a stricken ship the size of the Costa Concordia but there are lots of questions to be answered including why many of the lifeboats could not be launched and why so many passengers had to jump off the ship and swim. If this disaster had happened in a more hostile environment with rougher seas the the loss of life would have been considerable.
As cruise ships have got bigger, have they become unstable? Have health and safety issues been ignored for the sake of financial gain? Also, of course how did the captain of the Concordia hit the rock in the first place?
Personally, I can’t see the attraction in cruising on these huge cruise ships. Thousands of people in a fairly confined space seems to me to be more like a floating upmarket holiday camp where passengers are herded around from one port of call to another as well as fed lashings of food that they don’t really need, again in a confined space with the same people they will see every day.
The cost of this weekends accident could could cost Costa Cruises many millions of pounds in compensation but the cost to the cruise industry itself could be far greater as passengers desert the giant cruise lines in favour of other types of holiday.