Cruise ship Costa Allegra adrift off Seychelles

Cruise ship Costa Allegra adrift off Seychelles

Costa Allegra (June 10, 2011 in Rhodes) The Costa Allegra has over 1,000 people on board (file photo)

An Italian cruise ship with more than 1,000 people on board is without power in the Indian Ocean following a fire. No one has been injured.

The Costa Allegra is adrift in the dark more than 200 miles southwest of the Seychelles, near Alphonse Island.

Tug boats are on their way to the liner but will not reach it until around 1500 GMT on Tuesday.

The ship is from the same fleet as the Costa Concordia, which capsized off the Italian coast in January, killing 32.

Costa Cruises said in a statement that the fire broke out in the electric generators’ room. It did not spread and there were no injuries or casualties.

Inspections of the state of the engine room are on-going, the company says.

Ship immobilised

The liner has sent out a distress signal, Costa Cruises says, and all passengers and crew not involved in fighting the fire assembled at the muster stations.

There are no electric lights on board the ship as the batteries are being used to keep essential machinery going.

The Italian authorities have directed three merchant ships and two fishing vessels towards the stricken liner.

The authorities in the Seychelles say they have sent two tug boats and a coastguard ship to the scene.

The closest vessel to the ship – a French fishing boat – is likely to reach the Allegra at around 2300 GMT, ahead of the tug boats.

A plane from the Seychelles flew over the cruise ship and confirmed that there was “no danger for the people on board,” according to Commander Cosimo Nicastro of the Italian coast guard.

Cmdr Nicastro told the BBC that it took the crew a few hours to extinguish the fire.

Although the ship is in the middle of the Indian Ocean, there are “no problems for the passengers”.

However the ship probably needs to be towed to a Seychelles port, he said.

Seychelles map

There are 636 passengers and 413 crew on board the Costa Allegra, which left Madagascar on Saturday.

It was due to arrive in the Seychelles on Tuesday.

Further destinations on its itinerary include Alexandria and Naples in the Mediterranean.

Somali pirates are known to operate in the area where the ship is adrift, though they have never seized a cruise liner.

A facility on Costa Cruises’ website allowing people to track the Allegra’s position says that “data transmission is temporarily suspended”.

The Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio on 13 January.

The Concordia’s captain, Francesco Schettino, has been accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before all those aboard were evacuated. He denies any wrongdoing

Cruise passengers robbed on excursion in Puerto Vallarta

Cruise passengers robbed on excursion in Puerto Vallarta

By Donna Tunney
Carnival Cruise Lines suspended a guided nature-trail excursion in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, after 22 passengers sailing on the Carnival Splendor were robbed at gunpoint during the tour on Feb. 23.

There were no injuries and all passengers returned safely to the ship, Carnival said in a statement.

“Numerous authorities were notified and responded to investigate, as well as assist the affected guests. The tour in question has been suspended until further notice.”

Carnival said it is working to reimburse robbery victims for lost valuables and assist with lost passports or other forms of identification that were stolen.

“Carnival sincerely apologizes to its guests for this very unfortunate and disturbing event and is providing its full support and assistance,” the cruise line said.

The 2,974-passenger Splendor was operating a seven-day cruise that departed Long Beach, Calif., on Feb. 19.

Puerto Vallarta, a city of 255,000, is located in Jalisco state. The most recent U.S. State Department travel warning concerning the region tells Americans to “deter nonessential travel to areas of the state that border the states of Michoacan and Zacatecas.”

Michoacan is located to the south and Zacatecas to the northeast of Jalisco. The warning does not specifically mention Puerto Vallarta.

Princess Cruises last June suspended calls to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, citing security concerns, but announced last October it would include both destinations on six Sapphire Princess cruises in winter 2012-13.

At the time, Princess said it could alter its decision to include Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan closer to departure, if its comfort level with the destinations changes again.

Holland America Line had extended its suspension of Mazatlan port calls through March 2012, replacing the visit with an overnight in Puerto Vallarta.

Meanwhile, Puerto Vallarta is poised to host a major trade show, Tianguis Turistico 2012, March 25 to 28 in Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit.

Puerto Vallarta’s conference center will serve as the venue for the trade show, meetings and press conferences.

CEO says media ‘massacre’ could destroy Costa brand

CEO says media ‘massacre’ could destroy Costa brand

By Donna Tunney

Costa Cruises’ bookings are down 35% year over year since the Costa Concordia accident in Italy on Jan. 13, the line’s chairman and CEO, Pier Luigi Foschi, told Italian newspaper La Stampa earlier this month.

The Foschi interview raised a specter that has not been openly discussed: that all the negative publicity surrounding the Concordia incident could ultimately sink the Costa brand.

“Our brand has been massacred by the media,” Foschi said, and even though “the company is solid, with a net worth of several billion euros,” Costa Cruises “could fail as a [brand].”

In an annual filing last month with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, parent company Carnival Corp. stated that booking volume across its brands had dropped by 20% in the immediate aftermath of the Concordia incident. But that figure did not include Costa Cruises itself. In its filing, Carnival Corp. said only that Costa’s bookings were down significantly.

In a follow-up to Foschi’s statements to La Stampa, Costa issued a statement explaining, “Our chairman and CEO replied to a question regarding the possibility of bankruptcy of our company. He actually replied that although the company is financially very strong and the company will not go bankrupt, there is no certainty about the brand.

“This declaration was caused by the enormous attack of the mass media on Costa Crociere, most of it unfair and unverified. However, it is necessary to clarify that this is a remote possibility because it is our intention to work hard to do everything in our power to save the brand and to restore our credibility.”

The Concordia hit a rocky reef as it sailed north from Civitavecchia and quickly took on water. The half-submerged ship remains off the coast of the island of Giglio, where salvage crews are trying to remove its 500,000 gallons of fuel.

Twenty-one people have so far been confirmed dead in the incident, and at least 11 remain missing.