GETTING THERE IS NO LONGER HALF THE FUN! COSTA CONCORDIA YOUNG DISABLED PASSENGER TOLD TO “SUE US” BY MICKY ARISON’S CARNIVAL CORP – CEO Micky Arison hires Burson-Masteller. A group of corporate media flacks to control Carnival Corp nightmare!

The Carnival Corp manner of cruising… watch this video about one of their ships…

COSTA CONCORDIA YOUNG DISABLED PASSENGER TOLD TO “SUE US” BY MICKY ARISON’S CARNIVAL CORP – Is it time to boycott Carnival cruises and their brands?  Is the captain to blame or the American owners?  Carnival Corp hires Brit media flacks Burson-Marsteller to handle cruise line nightmare?  From the elegance of cruising in the past to the horror of “schlock” treatment by Miami based Carnival Corp.

(Left: American billionaire and owner of the Costa Concordia) American billionaire Micky Arison has hired a UK public relations firm to save Carnival Corp and the debacle resulting from the Costa Concordia disaster.  Arison has been hiding out in Miami.  He’s become a modern day Sir Bruce Ismay (the RMS Tiantic owner and coward) and is a cruise line version of President George W. Bush during the Katrina disaster.

(Left: This is the collection of extraordinary Brit media flacks – Burson-Marsteller – who have been hired by Micky Arison to handle Costa Concordia debacle and downplay how passengers were treated.  Pathetic, huh? Considering one of them is a Rupert Murdoch hack. ) Clarence Mitchell, a British press agent and flack, media manipulator, connected to Rupert Murdoch, is handling the mounting corporate nightmare and faces a big task.  He apparently handles cover ups and other related media corporate cover-ups. Arison, who is hiding out in Miami, wants Brit Burson-Marsteller to keep press and public away from him.  He’s more concerned with his Florida basketball team than his passengers.  His “Costa/Carnival” employee told a young disabled Argentine man to “sue” the American company if they were dissatisfied with the “showboat” cruise.

I love ships but would avoid any Carnival product like the plague.  Arison represents everything that is wrong with corporate America.  I sailed last year, Grill Class, on Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria and witnessed first hand the Carnival mystique of being totally ripped off by a third rate brand of this megalomaniac company.

Horrified passengers aboard Micky Arison’s nightmare ship Costa Concordia. One of his employees said passengers were exaggerating on the dangers.  Look at the photos.  A Costa Cruises (Micky Arrison’s Carnival Corp) executive has accused passengers of “sensationalism” over the disaster which saw its ship capsize off the coast of Italy. Assistant director Monica Bova said to hear passengers who were safe and sound on the docks say “no-one saved us” was outrageous. “I have read, seen and heard so much nonsense from these survivors, who tended as usual to choose sensationalism rather than information,” she said.

Our thanks to Kirby Sommers for the following…

THE LATEST IN THE CARNIVAL CORP COSTA CONCORDIA MESS…

Click here to read more from Kirby Sommers

Micky Arison’s Carnival Corp told a young Argentinian disable man to “sue us” if he wanted anything from the greedy American/Israeli Company that owns Costa.  In other words, Arison’s cruise line is telling passengers to “bugger off” if they want anything from the Miami based company that controls many ships.

Fernando Tofanelli, an Italian Argentinian student who lives in Surbiton, Surrey, asked the company for money to buy food and medicine, but says he was told he would not receive any kind of stipend unless he took legal action.

In a letter to Costa Cruises (owned by Arison’s Carnival Corp), he accused the cruise operator of “washing its hands” of survivors of the disaster, leaving them “destitute and traumatized”.

“Your representatives told us categorically, and a number of times that there would be no compensation, and that if we wanted to sue the company we would be most welcome to try. I found this response utterly disgusting,” he wrote.

Like many passengers aboard the stricken cruise ship, Mr Tofanelli, who was on holiday with his family, lost all of his documents and bank cards when the ship hit rocks off the Italian island of Giglio and sank on Friday, leaving him with no access to funds.

Passengers were given food while they were put up in a hotel in Rome, but did not have any money to buy basic provisions when they eventually travelled home – often encountering severe delays because they were traveling without passports.

Costa and Arison’s Carnival Corp did nothing to help.

“I don’t have any cards, I don’t have any ID, I don’t have the key to my car which is parked at Barcelona port, so I asked for some money to buy basics. Initially, everyone from Costa Cruises was happy to take notes and said they were here to help us, but that seemed to change throughout the day,” Mr Tofanelli said.

“By the evening, a tough-looking man and a handful of women from Arison’s Carnival Corp were telling us, ‘If you want any money or compensation, you have to make a legal claim. You need to go to court’.”

Mr Tofanelli, who is disabled, was unable to buy essential medicine, while another member of his party lost her shoes in the disaster and had to spend more than 24 hours barefoot.

“The only people who helped us were the Italian government and the Proteccion Civil. They came with some tracksuits and T-shirts and underwear but there were not enough to round. We had to fight for trainers,” he said.

He and his family were forced to borrow money from friends to keep them going until Mr Tofanelli’s return flight to the UK. They now plan to mount a class action lawsuit against Costa Cruises with other passengers involved in the disaster.

A spokesman for Costa Cruises said he had yet to hear what the company’s compensation policy will be.

The apparent switch in the company’s stance towards compensating passengers came as it abruptly shifted its position about who is responsible for the disaster.

It initially spent two days defending Captain Francesco Schettino, 52, Costa Cruises but suggested on Sunday night that the blame lay with him after all.

“Preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship’s Master…which resulted in these grave consequences,” Costa Cruises said.

The chairman and chief executive of Costa Cruises added on Monday that the company “will be close to the captain and will provide him with all the necessary assistance, but we need to acknowledge the facts and we cannot deny human error,” he said.

Italian prosecutors claim that Captain Francesco Schettino came too close to Giglio’s rocky shore to send a greeting signal to someone on the Italian island.

Mr Schettino is in jail, accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. He denies all wrongdoing and was questioned by magistrates on Tuesday.

But don’t blame the captain… let’s start looking at Arison and has his Carnival Corp.

Some facts about these large cruise ships…

Time’s up for conventional lifeboats on these mega cruise ships. High sloping sides from elevated superstructure design allied to an industry-wide fantasy that all ship disasters will allow the vessel to stay straight and level in a calm sea have been cruelly exposed by this latest catastrophe. The industry needs to urgently adopt the pod escape systems used on large freight/container ships but I fear that the cruise ship operators will spare no expense on lobbying the safety agencies to delay such changes for as long as possible. The Herald of Free Enterprise debacle is a case in point. Has the industry learned nothing since the Titanic, one hundred years ago?

The Costa Concordia was Europe’s largest-ever cruise ship when it launched in 2006, with a giant spa and two swimming pools covered by a crystal roof – a ship, Costa promised, to “symbolise peace and harmony between European nations”. Today, it raises the spectre of the kind of disaster the cruise industry and its passengers hoped was long past.

What the world now sees is that ships costing the better part of a billion dollars can still be holed by a rock.

Instead of size making them impregnable they are, as 100 years ago on the Titanic, liable to be the scene of terrifying, tragic disaster. And as on that famously “unsinkable” ship, passengers relied in vain on inadequate lifeboats.

With more than 21m passengers carried annually – and no mass loss of lives since the Greek Royal Pacific collided with a trawler in 1992 – the industry can claim that cruising is a relatively safe form of travel. Yet it is less than five years since the last cruise ship sank in the Mediterranean; when the Sea Diamond hit a reef off Santorini in April 2007 the captain and five crew were charged with negligence, although the prosecution was eventually suspended. Two French passengers were never accounted for.

According to Nautilus International, the maritime professionals’ union, some safety issues have been exacerbated rather than solved, by the shape of modern cruising. “The alarm bells have been ringing with many of us for well over a decade now,” says Andrew Linington, Nautilus’s communications director. “These ships are floating hotels – skyscrapers, really. The design has been extrapolated from that of smaller ships: they have high sides, a small draught [the depth below the waterline] and are very difficult to maneuver in high winds.”

Ship design has focused on building ever more upper deck cabins, shopping malls and pools that test stability compared to traditional ocean liners. The Concordia, by some measure the biggest casualty to date, is dwarfed by new behemoths such as the Allure of the Seas, which can carry more than 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew.

“We believe a lot of basic safety principles are being compromised to maximise the revenue,” Linington said.

Costa is part of Carnival Corporation, the world’s biggest cruise operator, based in Miami although incorporated in Panama to avoid tax on its $2bn (£1.3bn) annual profits. It also owns Cunard and P&O.

The two US corporations that run the bulk of global cruising emphasise their ships’ state-of-the-art technology. Yet some officers fear training is struggling to keep pace with the sophistication of the vessels when things go wrong.

Last month the Marine Accident Investigation Branch reported how an explosion in a switchboard room left Cunard’s flagship liner Queen Mary 2 disabled, drifting for an hour outside Barcelona in 2010.

Automating navigation has not eradicated human error. The Crown Princess was a month in service in March 2006 when it heeled violently from port to starboard as an officer overrode the automated steering, injuring nearly 300 people, 14 seriously.

Marine engineers have long raised questions over the possibility of safe evacuations from bigger ships. The 15 still unaccounted for on the Concordia, which had yet to carry out an evacuation drill, make such fears look prescient.

Multinational crews and passengers exacerbate any problems, Linington said: “People panic in their own language. Safety training is a fraction of what it is on airlines, for example.”

Evacuation itself is hazardous enough to have claimed the lives of frailer cruise passengers when the Mikhail Lermontov was wrecked in New Zealand in 1986 and the Achille Lauro burned and sank off Somalia in 1994.

Maritime safety, underpinned by Safety of Life at Sea (Solas) conventions dating back to post-Titanic inquests, has been based on the premise that a ship is its own best lifeboat: that a vessel should head for port after sustaining damage and passengers stay on board as long as possible. Nautilus says events in Italy further throw that principle into doubt.

The safety of vessels is not the only issue to beset the cruise industry. After a spate of onboard incidents, campaigners formed the International Cruise Victims association to highlight dangers to individual passengers. Dozens have died or gone missing at sea in unexplained circumstances in the last decade – deaths compounded for their families by the legal limbo of international waters that hampers investigations. A 2010 US cruise safety act sponsored by John Kerry put a new onus on cruise lines to report to the FBI.

The disappearance of Rebecca Coriam, a British crewmember, from the Disney Wonder last year was investigated by a solitary policemen flying in from the Bahamas, which had jurisdiction as the flag state. The majority of cruise ships are still registered in the Bahamas or Panama, sailing under flags of convenience for softer regulation on employment and tax.

The International Labor Organization has long criticized employment standards on ships beyond that of the visible, white officer class. Service crews are often drawn via agencies from developing countries on low-paid contracts, relying on tips. Below deck ratings are typically hired from the Philippines, whose seafaring credentials were last year called into question by the European Maritime Safety Agency.

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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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