x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

A line of bad luck

When a company selling luxury cruise travel has two accidents in a few weeks, one of them deadly, its enginnering executives can expect some hard questions.

Take your holiday choice: aground off the coast of Tuscany, or adrift in a pirate-infested part of the Indian Ocean.

Neither of these is among the destinations offered by Costa Cruises, but the company's customers have experienced too many adventures this year. The cruise ship Costa Concordia, with more than 4,200 people aboard, struck a reef off the Italian coast on January 13, with at least 32 casualties. And now the smaller Costa Allegra has had a generator fire which left her, with 1,000 passengers and crew, drifting until a French fishing vessel took her in tow yesterday.

The proximity in time of the two accidents is more likely a coincidence than evidence of any wrongdoing. The causes were quite different, and the line's 13 other vessels continue to operate without incident.

But this will be an uncomfortable week for the line's engineering executives. When something goes wrong, the normal human reaction is to become more cautious: if Costa's safety practices - including those for fire prevention - have not been reviewed and tightened since mid-January, the owners will now surely want to know why.

Meanwhile, you might want to check Costa's website: there could be some nice bargains coming up.