The strong-growing cruise ship industry may face at least a short-term slump following the Costa Concordia disaster.
Wall Street analysts, travel agents and other cruise line industry spectators expect a brief drop in bookings as controversy churns around the safety of cruise vacations. It remains unclear if the impact of the Costa Concordia disaster will have a long-term effect on the industry.
Analysts are apparently slashing 2012 expected earnings for Costa Cruises’ parent company Carnival to take into account the influence of costs related to the disaster, the Costa Concordia being removed from service and an anticipated drop in demand. The accident occurred during what is called “wave season,” the January-to-March period when cruise bookings are at their highest.
The 5-year-old Costa Concordia partially sank on Jan. 13 after hitting rocks in Giglio, a small island off the Tuscan coast. At least 11 people were killed and more than 20 remain missing.
Costa Cruises as well as Italian prosecutors are blaming the ship’s captain for the accident because he allegedly took the vessel off course to sail closer to the island.
The cruise ship industry has overcome previous tragedies at sea. In 2010, a fire onboard the Carnival Splendor left the ship adrift without power for days, which had no negative effect on bookings in the long run. The 2007 sinking of Louis Cruise Lines’ 1,500-passenger Sea Diamond, that hit rocks and left two people dead, also had little to no impact on future bookings.
Some experts say the Costa Concordia disaster could be different because of constant negative media attention surrounding the accidents in combination with the loss of life. According to industry watchers, the picture painted by the media is that the crew reacted badly and even irresponsibly, which does not build confidence among consumers. Costa Cruises and parent company Carnival are also being criticized for their response to the tragedy.
Miami-based Carnival at present time has said the loss of use of the Costa Concordia this year will reduce its earnings by $85 million to $95 million. Tens of thousands of travelers who already have paid for cruises on the liner will have to be refunded.
In addition to the loss of use of the Costa Concordia, Carnival also faces the costs connected to personal injury liability and damages to the ship, although the cruise line says it fully expects insurance to cover both areas. Should investigators find that the cruise accident was caused by inappropriate actions by the captain, Carnival could be cleared of any liability.
Carnival has yet to decide if they will fix the Costa Concordia that cost around $570 billion to rebuild. If they do, the ship will likely be out of commission for at least the rest of the year.
The nation’s largest cruise franchise, CruiseOne, reported that it has actually seen an increase in bookings this year by 5.9 percent when compared to last year.
In New York, shares of Carnival stock reportedly dropped almost 14 percent, which is the biggest drop since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In this case, to recover punitive damages against Costa or its parent Carnival, a person would need to prove gross negligence on some level by the company and not just the captain. Florida law requires that some negligence by the company be shown in order to prove punitive damages. It will be interesting to see how the investigation will play out and what actions Costa and Carnival decide to take.
A dream vacation aboard an ocean cruise can turn into a nightmare when dangerous conditions leave passengers suffering from injuries or death. It is important to act fast and contact a Cruise Ship Injury Attorney immediately if you feel your injuries or a loved one’s death are the result of cruise line negligence. In many cases, there is a one-year statute of limitations on personal injury or wrongful death claims against the cruise line. Because of this short window of time, it is critical for an attorney to investigate your injury claim promptly by locating and documenting the conditions aboard the ship and interviewing any witnesses and crew members while they are in port.
At Whittel & Melton, our attorneys can handle any and all types of injuries that can occur on a vacation cruise:
• Waterslide and swimming pool catastrophes
• Slip and Fall accidents
• Physical or Sexual Assault
• Severe Illness from Contaminated Foods
• Medical Negligence
• Excursion Accidents
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed due to cruise line negligence, contact the Florida Cruise Ship Injury Lawyers Whittel & Melton online or call us statewide and toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).