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Morning Lineup – February 28

Tuesday Morning – All Ashore Who's Going Ashore

Talk about bad timing, or maybe just bad performance standard.  The Italian ocean cruising company Costa Cruises is back in the news again.  You'll recall that they are the outfit whose monster-ship Costa Concordia capsized and partially sunk last month when its party-guy captain took it off course to go wave to somebody on a nearby island.  The death toll from that one is up to 32 and still rising along with an expected 3-month operation just to pump out the half-million gallons of diesel from the tanks.

Costa Cruises and their corporate owner Carnival Cruise Lines took a real blow to the bookings immediately afterward and are now struggling to stay afloat (sorry…) themselves.  So I'm sure the heads of the company are quite distraught today as the vacation industry news headlines are reporting on another Costa Cruises misadventure playing out in the Indian Ocean, more specifically near the Seychelles.  Another of their fleet, the Costa Allegra is stranded in the ocean with no power and 1,000 passengers on board who are probably wondering why they got on board in the first place. 

Costa Allegra – AFP file photo

BBC News is reporting today:

The Costa Allegra suffered a fire in its generator room that caused it to lose power south-west of the Seychelles – an area plagued by pirates.

It has no lights or air-conditioning and an emergency generator providing communications "could fail at any minute", the Italian coast guard says. Tugs are still some hours away.

(A fishing boat has now reached the ship which is adrift in the ocean and made contact with it.) Commander Cosimo Nicastro from the Italian coast guard told the BBC that the trawler – a French-registered ocean-going boat – could now maintain communications with rescue vessels if the ship's emergency battery failed.

"At any moment we could lose communication because the emergency battery could stop at any second," he said. "The first step is to keep communications with the ship."

He said agencies involved in the rescue operation would reassess the situation when day breaks. The ship's owner, Costa Cruises, has stressed that the Allegra is steady and conditions are safe.

Costa Cruises said that the ship sent out a distress signal when the fire broke out, and all passengers and crew not involved in fighting the fire assembled at the muster stations.

Most electric lights on board the ship are off as the batteries are being used to keep essential machinery going. A spokesman said the situation on board was calm and the ship was stable.

Captain Giorgio Moretti said a helicopter would bring fresh food to the ship on Tuesday morning, as it is without cooking facilities.

The ship already has nine Italian Navy sharpshooters who have been sailing with it to protect them from pirate attacks.

You know, Carnival just might start getting a reputation for having a corporate culture of carelessness, deserved or not, that could end up being fatal to the business.  They are already struggling under the world-wide dip in the economy and are saddled with two recently purchased, very huge ships that are about the size of Manhattan Island an were ordered several years ago when times were flush and promising.

I know a lot of people in the fire and EMS sector enjoy cruising, but you'd better be careful who you book with for a while.  On the plus side, fares should become offered at below-basement prices this year.

Well, let's make sure that our on-board generator is safe and get all this equipment checked out this morning.  I'll give the Bunn-O-Matic a good inspection before we meet back in the day room.

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