CARNIVAL CORP’S COSTA CURSE – Hundreds of passengers adrift in Indian Ocean after blaze takes out engine room of another Costa Cruises ship.

Cruise history and cruise liner history.

The COSTA ALLEGRA’s ordeal at sea.  Forty hours with no electricity.  Carnival Corp had major fire at sea in 2010.

CARNIVAL CORP’S COSTA CURSE – Hundreds of passengers adrift in Indian Ocean after blaze takes out engine room of another Costa Cruises ship. Eight Americans are aboard another poorly run Carnival Corp cruise ship. Is the US Congress doing anything to regulate US owned cruise companies and protect American passengers? Or is the US government just bought off by the cruise industry?

A crippled cruise ship owned by USA based Carnival Corp’s Costa Cruises, whose giant liner was wrecked off Italy last month, is being towed by a French tuna boat to the main island in the Seychelles, its owners said Tuesday.

An engine room fire on the Costa Allegra knocked out the ship’s main power supply in the Indian Ocean Monday, leaving it adrift with more than a thousand people on board in waters vulnerable to pirate attacks.

The ship’s Italian owner, Costa Cruises, a unit of U.S. cruise line giant Carnival Corp, said a plan to tow it to the nearer island of Desroches had been aborted because it would have been harder to moor and disembark the passengers there.

Carnival Corp’s history of fires at sea. The CARNIVAL SPLENDOR was stranded offshore with 4,500 passengers and crew in 2010. The Carnival Cruises ship had to be towed to San Diego in a nightmareish ordeal – with no air conditioning, hot water or telephone service. Carnival Splendor was 200 miles south of San Diego when an engine room fire cut its powers.

The Trevignon, a deep sea trawler which sails the oceans for tuna from the Atlantic port of Concarneau, is pulling the Costa Allegra, a vessel many times its size, on a 400-meter cable at a speed of only about six knots, the Trevignon’s skipper Alain Dervout told his local French newspaper, Ouest-France.

He was joined Tuesday by two tugs and a coastguard ship, all from Seychelles, the archipelago’s government said. A military aircraft was also flying in support of the operation.

The cruise ship was due to arrive at the Seychelles capital of Victoria Wednesday evening or Thursday morning, depending on weather conditions, government spokeswoman Srdjana Janosevic said. Clocks in the Seychelles are four hours ahead of GMT.

“Helicopters will ensure continuous supply of food, comfort items, flashlights in order to mitigate guests’ discomfort given the difficult conditions on board,” Costa Cruises spokesman Davide Barbano said in a statement.

A team from the Italian coastguard is heading to the Seychelles to investigate the accident, but a spokesman for the agency it would be wrong to make analogies to the Costa Concordia disaster on January 13, in which at least 25 people died and over which a criminal investigation has been launched.

“They are two different situations, totally different conditions, so they are not related accidents,” Cosimo Nicastro told Reuters.

Prosecutors in the Italian city of Genoa have opened an investigation into the fire on the Costa Allegra, judicial sources said.

Nicastro said there was no question of the passengers being transferred to other vessels.

“The safest place for the people is on the ship. There is no reason to put them on another ship or a helicopter. They will remain on the Costa Allegra and we will keep monitoring the situation,” he said.

An evacuation off Desroches Island would have presented the ship owner and local authorities with a tricky and expensive logistical operation.

The 636 passengers and 413 crew would have had to use the ship’s lifeboats to land on the exclusive coral-fringed island, where Britain’s Prince William and his then girlfriend, now wife, Kate Middleton, stayed a few years ago.

“Logistics and hotels on the island are not sufficient. It would require … an immediate transfer from Desroches to Mahe,” Barbano, the Costa Cruises spokesman, said.


Seychelles authorities still face a logistical headache finding accommodation in Mahe for all those onboard.

“Right now we are in consultation with the hotels on Mahe to find out how many beds are available. It’s a busy time of year,” government spokeswoman Janosevic told Reuters.

The giant Costa Concordia capsized after hitting rocks off the Italian island of Giglio, killing at least 25 people. Divers and rescue workers are searching for the bodies of seven still missing more than six weeks after the disaster.

The Costa Allegra, at 29,000 tons several times smaller than the Concordia, was sailing some 200 miles southwest of Seychelles when the fire broke out and it sent a distress signal, Costa Cruises said.

The fire was put out and there was light onboard thanks to an emergency battery. But there was no air conditioning to counter tropical temperatures, nor cooking facilities.

The passengers, including four children, are from 25 different nations, with the largest contingents being 127 from France and 126 from Italy. There are 38 Germans, 31 Britons, 13 Canadians and eight Americans on board.

A former British colony with historic ties to France, the islands of Seychelles are home to a little over 80,000 people. The Costa Allegra left Diego Suarez in Madagascar Saturday and, sailing northeast, had been due to dock on Mahe Tuesday.

It is being protected by nine members of an anti-piracy unit of the Italian navy, a precaution regularly taken on ships in the Indian Ocean which is prone to attacks by Somali pirates.

“The ship is not in a high-risk area, but we can’t be 100 percent sure,” said Costa Cruises’ Giorgio Moretti.

While yachts have been seized in the past near Seychelles, pirates have yet to successfully hijack a cruise liner in the Indian Ocean.

Shares of Costa Cruises’ parent company Carnival were down 29 cents at $29.67 in morning trade in New York.

Costa was accused by some passengers of long delays and a lack of organization in the evacuation of the Costa Concordia.

That vessel’s Italian captain is under house arrest near Naples accused of multiple manslaughter and abandoning the ship.


About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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