Has the Cruise Industry Already Forgotten the Costa Concordia?

Cruise Marketing - Costa ConcordiaI have been out of town for the past week with my family on spring break vacation, returning last night to Miami.  But I have been my usual self reading up on the latest cruise news.

It seems that the cruise lines enjoyed a great time last week of self-generated good news. The Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM) event ran its predictable course. The cruise convention broadcast the industry's post-Concordia talking points where the cruise executives and trade organization representatives competed with one another extolling on the cruise industry's great safety record.  Few facts, lots of self-serving opinions.  No independent thinkers challenged the false feel-good cruise prophets.  

Many of the cruise articles I read online contained cruise advertisements from Silversea Cruises showing a cruise ship sailing dangerously close to the rocks somewhere in the Mediterranean.

Have the cruise marketers learned anything? 

After the CSM propaganda extravaganza ended, the cruise convention attendees piled into cabs for a night out drinking.

Lots of private parties. Lots of laughing faces posted on Twitter.  Royal Caribbean's CEO Richard Fain Barbara and Gerry Heiljoked at the RCCL dinner about the first Costa Concordia question coming just 18 minutes into dinner. He had to delay sucking down his shrimp cocktail to think of the cruise talking points - this was a freak accident, caused by a renegade captain, which unfairly tarnished a cruise industry with a fantastic safety record.   

If you interviewed everyone at the cruise shipping convention, you would get one opinion - cruising is safe.  But ask them the names of the Minnesota couple who died in the disaster?  No one would have a clue.  

Is it that easy to forget the names of the drowned just two months ago? Or did the cruise executives ever bother to learn the names of the dead in the first place?   

Photos Located of Missing Costa Concordia Passengers, Gerald & Barbara Heil

Of the over 3,000 passengers aboard the Costa Concordia cruise ship when it capsized, two Americans were lost, Gerald Heil, age 69, and Barbara Heil, age 70, of Minnesota.  They are among fifteen passengers who were either trapped in the cruise ship or lost at sea. 

Over the last five weeks since disaster struck, I have wondered what happened to this couple.

They left four children and many grandchildren behind.  Why were these two souls so unlucky?  

Today, there are reports from a local television station in Minnesota, KARE 11, that another passenger took photos of the crowded decks as the passengers waited for lifeboats and captured a few images of the couple.  As you can see in the video below, Mr. and Mrs. Heil are shown wearing life vests as they stand side by side on the deck.  Mr. Heil wears his trademark cap; his wife a hoodie.

If there is any comfort to be had for the Heil children with the discovery of these photographs, perhaps its that their parents were together, undoubtedly holding one another, when they were lost.  But it seems cruel that they were on the deck, so close to getting off the ship.  You want to re-wind the video and keep playing it until they get on a lifeboat and make it safely ashore.



You can read the Heil family's blog here


Video:  KARE 11