Will Costa Cruises Improve Safety Protocols In 2013?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

As 2012 comes to an end, many people take this time to reflect on the events of the past year and resolve to make important changes for the new one. Some people vow to lose weight, while some make a pact to take up a hobby. But while most people start making changes on January 1, Costa Cruises operators are likely getting a head start on their New Year’s resolutions following a traumatic year of cruise ship accidents.

One of the worst cruise accidents in history, the Costa Concordia will go down in history after capsizing off the coast of the Italian island Giglio on January 13, 2012. A total of 32 people were killed after the ship crashed into some rocks after the vessel’s captain, Francesco Schettino, ordered a move known as a “salute” to be performed. Schettino and several other workers are under criminal investigation for their role in the incident, and the captain has also been accused of abandoning ship before all passengers reached safety.

As horrifying as that accident was, the trouble didn’t stop there for Costa Cruises. The Carnival Corp.-owned company suffered a string of mishaps in the months that followed, with several passengers coming down with the infamous cruise ship stomach flu known as Norovirus. Sales began to dwindle and many critics started to wonder if Costa Cruises would ever recover.

Then, just as the turmoil began to simmer down, another one of Costa Cruises’ vessels was involved in a maritime accident. The Costa Pacifica, sister ship to the Concordia, crashed into a berthing structure in the port of Marseille in France on December 11. The collision created a 24-foot gash in the 3,000-passenger vessel, but miraculously, no one was injured and the damage was repaired overnight. According to Costa officials, the incident was caused by a strong gust of wind, but it seems as though the only thing getting blown away is the appeal the line has on its once faithful cruise clients.

Although accidents at sea take place constantly, the Costa Concordia tragedy took negligence to new heights. Had the captain not decided to perform the maneuver – a move that was not on the ship’s schedule – the accident most likely would not have happened. Cruise passengers aren’t too keen on boarding a cruise when the line has already suffered so much negative press. Safety onboard vessels is the number one priority for all cruise lines and by law, cruise companies are required to do everything in their power to keep those onboard from harm. When the safety of passengers and crewmembers is compromised, victims and their loved ones may be able to file a lawsuit and claim damages against the company.

If Costa Cruises’ actions and less than ideal accident track record for the year 2012 is any indication of what’s to come in 2013, it is very unlikely that travelers will be opting to take a vacation on any of the company’s vessels.