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Entries in Costa Allegra (7)

Saturday
Mar032012

Can Costa Cruise Lines Survive Two Calamities?

Stringer/AFP/Getty Images(PORT VICTORIA, Seychelles) -- Who says lightning can't strike twice? It has jolted Costa Cruise Lines two times in the past six weeks. The first time was off the coast of Italy in January and then again this week in remote waters off the coast of Africa.

Eleanor and Gordon Bradwell of Athens, Ga., thought they were going on 30-day dream cruise through the Indian Ocean and the Middle East aboard the Costa Allegra.

Instead, they ended up enduring a three-day ordeal, stranded at sea after fire destroyed the ship's generator.

The Bradwells and more than 1,000 other passengers and crew were hostages of the sweltering tropical heat on a ship with no power, no air-conditioning, no working toilets and no kitchens.

"It could have been so much worse," said Gordon Bradwell. "It could have been a disaster of biblical proportions, if that fire had gotten out of control. We were a long way from help. Then who knows what the results could have been."

The Bradwells were at lunch on Monday when they heard seven short beeps and a long beep: the signal to abandon ship.

"There was a good bit of chaos and confusion," said Gordon as he described the moments that followed. "They began to lower the boats, and at that point we thought we were probably going to go into the boats."

"They were very disorganized," said Eleanor, "Totally disorganized, unprofessional in the way they handled it."

The fire was extinguished, no one was injured and everyone could stay on the ship.

But it was much worse six weeks ago when another Costa Cruise Lines ship, the much bigger Costa Concordia, ran aground and toppled over off the Italy's Tuscan coast.

More than 4,000 passengers and crew had to abandon ship in the middle of the night. Thirty-two people died in that incident.

When the Bradwells boarded the Costa Allegra in Mauritius last week, they knew it was part of the same cruise line as the ill-fated Costa Concordia. Eleanor Bradwell said she simply assumed the Concordia disaster was an aberration. "After the Concordia you think this won't happen again."

It did. The Bradwells, both around their 70s, spent three nights sleeping on deck chairs under the stars. Their cabin was uninhabitable, fluctuating between 100 degrees and 110 degrees. The toilets couldn't be flushed, leaving the odor of sewage hanging in the dense humid air.

After enduring all that, I asked Eleanor Bradwell if she would go on a cruise again.

"Well, we would cruise but I will not cruise with Costa. Ever," she said.

A lot of people seem to be saying that these days. After the Jan. 13 wreck of the Concordia, Costa's bookings dropped an estimated 30 percent.

Now the company faces a public relations nightmare, its brand associated with two high-profile mishaps at sea.

Its official name is Costa Crociere, an Italian company based in Genoa. But Costa is wholly owned by the British-American giant Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise ship operator. (Full disclosure: The parent company of ABC News, the Walt Disney Co., also operates a cruise line.)

Since Carnival bought Costa in 2000, the company's fleet has multiplied from five to 14 ships. In 2010, it carried 2.15 million passengers while sales increased 12 percent to $3.8 billion. Costa is Carnival's largest subsidiary.

Now that future of that valuable brand is in peril.

"I think they're going to have to work very hard to survive," cruise industry analyst and writer Bill Miller told ABC News. "It's going to be difficult because people associate them with two highly publicized mishaps. They may even have to consider rebranding themselves, getting a new name."

Costa is bracing for more bad publicity as the inquiry into the Concordia disaster gets under way in Italy this weekend.

Two Italian newspapers, La Stampa and Il Messagero, are publishing lurid details of alleged drug use, drinking and sexual harassment aboard the Costa Concordia.

"I saw with my own eyes officers taking cocaine—to prove it you would only have had to test them," a nurse identified only as Valentina B reportedly told investigators in pre-trial evidence obtained by the newspapers.

Valentina B says she worked on three Costa cruise ships, "each one worse than the other."

Another woman identified as Mary G is quoted in the documents as saying, "I worked on the Costa Concordia in 2010 for two months. Often the officers and other crew members were drunk. Often we'd say to ourselves, 'If there's an emergency, who is going to save the ship?'"

Mary G also claimed to have been "molested" by a crew member who was high on drugs.

"We operate strict safety and surveillance measures concerning drugs possession onboard our ships," Costa said in a statement. "The possession or trade of narcotics onboard is prohibited. Crew members who possess or use drugs or engage in drug trafficking are submitted to disciplinary provisions and disembarked. Onboard there are checks and preventive actions to discourage such behaviors."

While all of this is damaging to Costa's reputation, not all industry watchers think the brand will disappear.

With two of Costa's 14 ships out of commission, the company has two new ships ready to launch.

It just finished rebuilding its 1600-passenger NeoRomantica, which is set to sail on its first voyage in the Mediterranean. The company says the cruise is sold out.

And Costa does seem to have learned from the disaster of the Concordia.

While the Bradwells were critical of the way the crew aboard the Costa Allegra behaved in the first hours, they have nothing but praise for Costa's response to the disabled ship.

The Bradwells said after the first few hours of chaos aboard the Costa Allegra this week, the crew and the cruise line worked hard to ease the discomfort for passengers as living conditions deteriorated. Costa used helicopters to bring in food, flashlights and bottled water.

"They did what they could do," Eleanor said. "They did the best they could do under the circumstances."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar012012

Disabled Costa Allegra Arrives in Seychelles Island

ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images(VICTORIA, Seychelles) -- After spending four days without power, the more than 1,000 passengers and crew members aboard the Costa Allegra are finally back on land.

The cruise ship arrived in the Seychelles island of Mahe Thursday morning.

The luxury liner went adrift in the Indian Ocean on Monday after a fire broke out in its engine room.  No one was injured, but the blaze knocked out power to the ship, leaving 636 passengers and 413 crew members stranded in pirate-infested waters.

Those on board faced sweltering heat as the Costa Allegra was slowly towed to shore by a French fishing vessel and two tugboats.  Left without air conditioning, many opted to sleep outside on the ship's decks.

As passengers disembarked on Thursday, many looked forward to going to their hotel and taking a shower.

Monday's incident aboard the Allegra was the second emergency situation this year for Costa Cruises, which is owned by Carnival Cruise Lines.  In January, 25 people were killed after the Costa Concordia capsized after hitting rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.  Seven others are still missing and presumed dead.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb292012

Crippled Costa Allegra Expected to Reach Seychelles Thursday

LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images(VICTORIA, Seychelles) -- More than 1,000 passengers and crew on the Costa Allegra luxury cruise ship prepared to sleep on the outside decks for the third night in a row, as the sun set over the waters of the Indian Ocean and the crippled vessel made its way slowly toward the Seychelles' main island of Mahe.

The ship is expected to arrive at Mahe at 9 a.m. Thursday local time. It was reported that the ship was moving at six knots, but the Seychelles government said high winds and choppy waters were making the journey slow. The weather is reportedly warm and humid with cloudy skies.

The cruise liner, which has been adrift since it lost power Monday because of a fire in its engine room, is off the coast of Desroches, but cannot dock there because the small island does not meet the necessary security conditions.

In addition to the French fishing vessel pulling the ship and the two tugboats that arrived Tuesday to push, a Seychelles Coast Guard boat is accompanying the Allegra as it hobbles to the Mahe harbor.

Although there were early fears of a pirate attack because the ship was in open waters off the coast of Somalia, the Allegra is now in Seychelles waters and is no longer in danger.

Eight American citizens are on board for what was supposed to be a nearly month-long cruise with numerous stops at island nations off the east coast of Africa along the way to Savona, Italy.

The majority of the passengers are European, although 15 Russians, 13 Canadians and two Brazilians are also aboard. Nine members of the Italian Navy are also on board, tasked with security against pirates.

This is the second emergency situation this year for Costa Cruises, which is owned by Carnival Cruise Lines. In January, 25 people are known to have died and seven are still missing and presumed dead after the Costa Concordia capsized after hitting rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb282012

Disabled Costa Allegra: Cruise Liner Inches Toward Seychelles

LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images(PORT LOUIS, Mauritius) -- The Costa Allegra luxury cruise liner that lost power in the Indian Ocean after a fire broke out in its engine room is now being pulled by two tugboats and a French fishing vessel toward the main island of Mahe in the Seychelles.

According to Genoa Costa Crociere headquarters, the ship is currently traveling at about 6 knots and is expected to arrive in Mahe early Thursday morning.

In a statement Tuesday, the company said that a helicopter would deliver 400 flashlights and fresh bread to the more than 1,000 passengers and crew Wednesday. Tuesday morning, a helicopter brought food and communication devices, including satellite phones and VHF radios.

A small generator brought by a Navy ship was reportedly being used by the ship's crew to "restore basic services on board." The news release said that despite the heat and humidity, "a slight breeze" was making the situation more comfortable.

The company also said that a "Care Team" of 14 executives, managers and technicians also had reached Mahe to prepare for the disembarkation. A smaller "Care Team" group also planned to travel to the liner Wednesday by way of the Navy vessel to speak with crew and passengers.

The Allegra was initially being towed to the island of Desroches before officials ruled the small island lacked the necessary security conditions.

According to the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, the passengers spent the night on the outdoor decks as ordered by the captain, after temperatures inside soared. The paper also reported that the AIS system had been turned off to avoid detection by pirates and that there is no hot water.

Guests were invited to prepare their luggage in order to be ready for the time of disembarkation, the company said.

Jayne Thomas of England, whose daughter is a performer on the crippled Allegra, said she was happy that the situation appeared to be under control.

"I'm not worried now," she told the BBC Tuesday. "I know that the ship's under tow....They obviously are not taking any passengers any further than the island so that's good news for me. It means I'll get my daughter home."

The company issued a statement overnight saying that the guests onboard the ship, which left Madagascar Saturday, were being kept continuously informed and assisted by the captain and the onboard staff and that a cold breakfast had been served Tuesday morning.

Eight American citizens are onboard the vessel, which is carrying 636 passengers and 413 crew members on a nearly month-long cruise with numerous stops at island nations off the east coast of Africa along the way to Savona, Italy.

The majority of the passengers are European, though 15 Russians, 13 Canadians and two Brazilians are also aboard. Nine members of the Italian Navy are also onboard, tasked with security against pirates.

The Italian cruise line had released a statement Monday saying no one was injured and that the blaze that broke out in the engine room in the ship's aft had been quickly extinguished.

"The passengers and crew are in safe condition," Cmd. Cosimo Nicastro of the Italian coast guard said Monday. "They are not necessarily comfortable because the ship only has emergency power on board, but they are safe."

The Costa Allegra is also known as the "crystal ship" because of the huge glass windows on its deck. It is the oldest and smallest of the Costa fleet.

This is the second emergency situation this year for Costa Cruises, which is owned by Carnival Cruise Lines. In January, 25 people are known to have died and seven are still missing and presumed dead after the Costa Concordia capsized after hitting rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.

Fuel transfer operations are still underway on the Concordia, which lies on its side in the sea outside the island's port.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb282012

Mom of Allegra Crew Member Had Son on Concordia

LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A woman whose daughter worked on Costa Cruise Lines’ stricken Allegra also had a son survive the Costa Concordia wreck earlier this month. It’s all “an unlucky coincidence,” she said Tuesday.

“These things in life happen,” Jayne Thomas of England told the BBC. “It’s just a situation in life that you have to deal with. They’ve gone on luxury cruise liners.  They could have gone on an airplane and there could have been a disaster.”

Her daughter Rebecca Thomas, 19, is a dancer on board the Allegra, which became adrift Monday in the Indian Ocean after a fire in the engine room rendered the ship powerless. It’s now being towed — along with its more than 1,000 passengers and crew — and is expected to reach the Seychelles on Thursday.

Her son James Thomas, 23, was a dancer on the Concordia in January that hit rocks off the Italian island of Giglio and capsized. Twenty-five people were killed in that wreck and 11 are still missing and presumed dead.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb282012

Stranded Cruise Ship Costa Allegra Being Towed to Seychelles Island

LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images(PORT LOUIS, Mauritius) -- The luxury cruise liner that went adrift in the Indian Ocean on Monday after a fire broke out on board is now being towed to an island in the Seychelles.

With the help of a French merchant ship, the Costa Allegra is expected to arrive in Mahe Thursday morning.

Earlier, it was reported that the cruise ship would be towed to Desroches, but Costa Cruises changed the location because it "does not assure the necessary and adequate security conditions for mooring the ship and guests’ disembarkation."

The company added that the accomodations on Desroches are insufficient for the 636 passengers and 413 crew members on board.

The Costa Allegra was left stranded in pirate-infested waters on Monday after a blaze broke out in its engine room, knocking out power on the ship.  Costa Cruises released a statement saying that no one was injured and that the fire had been quickly extinguished.

This is the second emergency situation this year for the Italian cruise line, which is owned by Carnival Cruises.  In January, 32 people were killed when the Costa Concordia capsized after hitting rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.  Seven people are still missing and presumed dead.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb272012

Cruise Ship Adrift in Pirate-Infested Indian Ocean

LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images(NAIROBI) -- More than a thousand people are awaiting rescue on the Costa Allegra cruise ship after a fire broke out on board, causing the luxury liner to lose power.

The ship is adrift in the Indian Ocean more than 200 miles from the Seychelles island nation off mainland Africa, an area that is infested by pirates.

This is the second emergency situation this year for Costa Cruises, which is owned by Carnival Cruises. In January, 32 people were killed when the Costa Concordia capsized after hitting rocks off the Italian island of Giglio. Seven people are still missing and presumed dead.

The Italian cruise line released a statement saying no one was injured, and the blaze that broke out in the engine room in the ship's aft was quickly extinguished. A spokesman for the Italian coast guard said the Seychelles Navy is sending rescue vessels-- including tugboats-- and a plane that has spotted the Allegra's location.

"The passengers and crew are in safe condition," said Commander Cosimo Nicastro of the Italian coast guard. "They are not necessarily comfortable because the ship only has emergency power on board, but they are safe."

"The winds right now are blowing at about 25 knots but we are not worried because it is a big ship, so the weather is not a concern," Nicastro said.

Eight U.S. citizens are aboard the ship that left Madagascar on Saturday and was supposed to reach the Seychelles on Tuesday. The Allegra is carrying 636 passengers and 413 crew members on a nearly month-long cruise with numerous stops at island nations off the east coast of Africa along the way to Savona, Italy.

Costa Cruises says crews are inspecting the engine room hoping to restart the equipment necessary for the ship to become operational.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio