The Costa Allegra, Moving Slowly to Shore

The Costa Allegra, the cruise ship that stalled in the Indian Ocean on Monday after a fire broke out in the engine room, is being towed by a French deep sea trawler to Victoria, the capital of the island country of Seychelles. The ship, which is owned by Costa Cruises, is being pulled at a speed of six knots (about seven miles per hour) and is expected to reach land early Thursday morning. Two tugs boats from Seychelles were originally sent to the vessel, which was drifting without power in an area of the Indian Ocean known for pirate attacks, but efforts to add a tug boat to help with the towing operation were unsuccessful, leaving the task to the French trawler alone.

Although a generator was brought to the Costa Allegra following the engine-room fire, it is much too small to power the entire ship. The generator is only being used to keep communications equipment running, and as a consequence the cooking and air-conditioning systems on the ship are not operational. In the sweltering Indian Ocean, the lack of air conditioning has led to much passenger discomfort, but now that the ship is moving, a breeze has helped ameliorate the situation.

Once the passengers reach land, they will be greeted by a team of doctors and nurses, who will address any medical needs of those who were on board the ship. Accommodations have been arranged for all the passengers at three hotels, where they will have access to showers and their first hot meal in days, according to news reports.

Evidently, the Costa Allegra’s problems have not compromised many of the passengers will to vacation, as a solid majority of those on board the ship will continue their holidays in Seychelles at Costa Cruises’ expense, and will be flown home once their vacations are over. The remainder of the passengers will be flown home once they arrive to Seychelles. All flights will be paid for by Costa Cruises.

The problems faced by the Costa Allegra occurred only six weeks after the Costa Concordia disaster, heaping another set of troubles on Costa Cruises, which is owned by Carnival. The Costa Concordia was the largest passenger ship ever wrecked, and 32 people likely died in the accident. (Seven people are still technically missing, but they have been presumed dead for some time, and 25 people have been confirmed dead.)

Despite the negative publicity swirling around Costa Cruises, many believe the company, which is the largest cruise ship operator in Europe and has done business for 60 years, will weather the PR nightmare. Costa Cruises’ bookings have dropped substantially since the Costa Concordia wreck, but the dip stands in contrast to general trends in the cruise industry as a whole, which has grown substantially in recent years. Before the troubles of the last six weeks, Costa Cruises was growing along with the industry, adding ships to their fleet as sales increased. As long as the abundant negative feelings toward the company pass, the company will likely regain its footing. However, some say that in order for this to occur, Costa Cruises may have to rebrand itself.

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