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Out to Sea

The terrible Costa Concordia disaster—a cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Italy, killing 17 people (with 16 others still missing)—has provoked the usual panic. Tourists are cancelling bookings and not making new ones; every ship in the harbor looks like the next Titanic waiting to happen.

Royal Caribbean Cruises FT has posted “first-quarter earnings per share . . . 20-60 percent lower than expectations as a result of the January 13 capsize off Italy”, and it surely won’t be the only cruise line to experience a sharp decrease in bookings and share price.

Consumer nervousness is understandable. Tales of captains disporting themselves with entertainers, deserting their command, and sailing unnecessarily close to reefs and rocks are not exactly reassuring.  And it’s reasonable to believe that what one captain has (allegedly) done, others might also do from time to time.

But right now is probably the best time to take a cruise.  Cruise ships are likely to be safer in the wake of the disaster. Companies will crack down and enforce safety. Staff will be jumpy — nobody wants to be the next internationally vilified sea captain. Fewer corners will be cut.

Via Meadia‘s advice: book now.  Few things are more restful than a long ocean voyage, and there are always bargains on transatlantic cruises when the cruise fleets are moving from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean (fall) or back (spring).  Prices are down, and bargains are good; sometimes companies will pay your airfare to Europe to get you on board.  A free flight to Rome, a nice little Italian vacation followed by a relaxing cruise back across the Atlantic, all for a bargain price. If Via Meadia had more time this spring, that’s what we’d be planning ourselves.

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  • John Burke

    I don’t know. It’s not as if the Concordia disaster were the only cruise line problem. Fires on board…rampant sickness forcing a cruise to be aborted…crimes on board…not to mention frequent instances of sub par service and deceptive advertising.

  • John Burke

    As I said, it’s not just the Concordia. Less tragic but still offputting things like this happen with grim regularity in the cruise industry.

    I suspect it’s the loose standards and narrow profit margins.

  • a nissen

    Were I overly fond of petri dishes, public transit during rush hour is equally effective, far cheaper, and much less time consuming.

    Not to mention David Owen’s Conundrum:

    I suspect it’s thoughts WRM would keep to himself except for having new capabilities for communicating in the midst of long voyages. Whatever the case, I anxiously await his regaining his more studious, less-know-it-all composure in the near future.

  • Corlyss

    Folks should treat themselves to a book on the Andrea Doria disaster. The first to leave the sinking ship were the Italian captain and Italian crew, leaving the passengers to fend for themselves. It was all the Stockholm’s officers could do to keep the Swedish seamen from beating the crap out of the Italians when they realized they were crew and NOT passengers.

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