Following the spectacle of the Costa Concordia disaster, the cruise industry is starting its campaign to convince the public that cruising is safe notwithstanding the terrifying and grotesque images of the stricken ship.
Pro-cruise trade organizations line the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA") will claim that incidents like this are "rare" and will characterize the Costa Concordia as a "freak" accident. But in truth this incident is just the latest cruise disaster in a long line of disasters.
One week ago, Italian cruise liner the MSC Poesia ran aground into a reef in the Bahamas while sailing to Port Lucaya near Freeport, Bahamas. You can read about that incident here - MSC Poesia Destroys Reef in the Bahamas - Cruise Ship with 26' Draft Sailed Into 15' Waters
The 93,000-ton cruise ship needs twenty-five feet of draft but sailed into only fifteen (15) feet of water. Fortunately for the cruise ship (and unfortunately for the priceless and irreplaceable reef), the vessel ground the fragile reef into bits. MSC was not able to get off the reef until high tide. But the incident did not stop the cruise ship from tendering cruise passengers to Port Lucaya to enjoy themselves at the beach. Once high tide freed the ship, the Poesia sailed off as if nothing happened. Few people in the media reported on this near disaster.
It takes deaths and destruction to focus the media on problems in the cruise industry.
There have been two serious collisions of Costa cruise ships in the last two years.
In February 2010, the Costa Europa cruise ship collided with a pier in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The allision ripped a hole in the hull of the ship and flooded a crew cabin, resulting in the death of three crew members and injury to four passengers. Photographs of the Costa Europa show the vessel listing heavily on its port side, in order to keep water pouring into the large opening on the starboard side. You can read about that incident here - Costa Europa Collides With Pier in Egypt - Three Crew Dead, Passengers Injured
In October 2010, the Costa Classica cruise ship collided with a cargo vessel, the Belgian registered bulk carrier Lowlands Longevity, at the mouth of the Yangtze River. The ship suffered a long gash over 60 feet long in its side and several passengers were injured. You can read about that Costa cruise ship crash here: New Photographs Reveal Extent of Damage to Costa Classica
In addition to these collisions, an engine room fire broke out onboard the Costa Romantica near Uruguay in February 2009. A year earlier, in may 2008, there was a dangerous near-collision between the Costa Atlantica and a cargo ship, the Grand Neptune, where the captain of the Costa cruise ship was heavily criticized. You can read the UK Marine accident report here. (There is speculation that Captain Schettino was at the vessel's captain at the time.)
The parent company of Costa is Carnival cruise line which has had more than its fair share of disasters.
The U.S. Coast Guard blasted Carnival for its negligence following the November 2010 fire aboard the Carnival Splendor cruise ship when the cruise line's fire suppression system malfunctioned. The Splendor was a relatively new cruise ship manufactured in Italy. The fire caused the failure of all of the generators on the cruise ship which stranded over 3,500 passengers on the high seas off the coast of Mexico. "Coast Guard Blasts Carnival Splendor for Fire Negligence"
The U.S. Navy sent an aircraft carrier to the scene and the U.S. Coast Guard had to tow the stricken cruise ship back to the U.S., at the U.S. tax payer's expense.
Plus consider the following serious events:
Fires Breaks Out On Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship - December 2011.
Over 1200 Passengers Rescued from Burning Ferry in the Red Sea, One Dead & Many Injured - November 2011
Fire & Rough Weather Mar Queen Mary 2 Cruise - October 2011
Cruise Ship Fire in Norway Kills Two - September 2011
Explosion Rocks Port in Gibraltar - Independence of the Seas Avoids Damage - May 2011
First Mexican Cruise Ship Catches on Fire - April 2011
Engine Room Fire Aboard MSC Cruises' Musica Cruise Ship - December 2010
Over 200 Passengers Rescued From Burning Ferry in Baltic Sea - October 2010
Power Outage on Queen Mary 2 Due to Catastrophic Explosion - September 2010
Fire Breaks Out On Cruise Ship In Norway - May 2010
All of this occurred in the last two years! In May of 2010, I chronicled the series of serious cruise disasters back over the last decade - Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything? If you are going to read one story on this blog, it is this one - the dangerous history of cruise ship fires dating from the Princess Cruises Star Princess fire in 2006 to the fire and sinking of the Sun Vista earlier in the1990's.
So as you digest the disturbing story of the renegade captain working for a cruise line with numerous recent casualties and the photos of the luxury liner on its side, don't let the cruise industry fool you into believing that this is an isolated accident.
Don't miss watching: Top Five Worst Cruise Ship Disaster Videos (to be updated)
On a lighter note: Tina Fey's Honeymoon Ruined By Cruise Ship Fire?
MSC Poesia - shipwrecklog
Costa Europa cruise ship - AP (Hussien Talal) via Mail Online
Costa Classica - EPA via Mail Online