Costa Concordia Wreck Could Be Upright This Month

Costa Concordia
Carlo Mirante/Flickr

It was a very unlucky Friday the 13th in 2012 when the luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy, sending shock waves through the world of cruise travel. After the event, which took 32 lives, cruise lines took a hard look at everything they were doing. Back at the scene of the wreck, environmentalists voiced concerns about long-term damage to the delicate marine environment. It would be a long, difficult process to remove the ship, one that may take a big step forward this month.

Last year Gadling explained the process of removing the wreck. First, the grounded ship was stabilized to keep it from sinking further into the ocean. Next, an underwater support system was installed. Now, the process of standing the ship upright, called parbuckling, should take place later this month. Once that delicate operation is complete, the ship will be floated away.

After the grounding of Costa Concordia, the governing organizations of the cruise industry ordered an operational safety review both in response to the grounding and as part of the industry’s continuous efforts to review and improve safety measures. The Costa Concordia event also contributed to the birth of the so-called Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights, which details rights cruise travelers have when things go wrong.Follow along on the wreck removal progress at The Parbuckling Project website and see a great Reuters slide show, with aerial view of Costa Concordia as it lies on its side next to Giglio Island.

Crews Work To Move Shipwrecked Costa Concordia

Photo Of The Day: Scenes From A German Café

Passau Germany cafe
Jess Moss, AOL

Gadling editor Jess Moss continues her Viking River Cruise in Germany. As the cruise stopped in Passau, she captured this shot, claiming, “I’ll never get tired of the European cafe scene.” What about you — if you could eat meals outside every day, at small, local restaurants, would you?

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Cruise Ship Back In Baltimore After Fire, Repairs Continue

cruise ship
Chris Owen

When cruise ships come to town, civic leaders rejoice. The floating resorts bring with them jobs and tourism dollars that might be otherwise elusive. In May, Baltimore, Maryland, welcomed Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas to town with gusto, as the state’s governor named May 13 Royal Caribbean Cruise Day. But the hoopla of that new cruise ship in town was short lived when just days later, the ship caught fire and was pulled out of service for repairs. Still, cruise lines are worth courting for cities and those cities are worth standing behind for cruise lines.

Returning to Baltimore this week, there was no brass band or gubernatorial declaration and the reason for the fire is still under investigation. Affecting three aft decks of the ship, some areas are still not ready for passengers, reports Travel Weekly. But local businesses and media are still excited to see the ship return, sailing from the Port of Baltimore on seven-night sailings to Bermuda and the Bahamas.

If any part of this story sounds familiar, there is good reason. Just last month we heard from governor O’Malley, then lobbying on behalf of Carnival Cruise Lines, looking for a waiver from new environmental rules to keep the cruise ships coming to the city. In 2011, Gadling was first to report cruise line crew members accused of smuggling drugs into the Port of Baltimore. Still, cruise travelers flock to Baltimore, often setting new records for passenger travel on a variety of year-round sailings.

Cruise Survival Skills: Falling Overboard

Coast Guard News/Flickr

Over the weekend, a passenger sailing from Stockholm to Helsinki survived seven hours in the frigid Baltic Sea after falling overboard. That he accidentally fell off and lived to tell about it is unusual; most don’t. While its something that does not happen often, we checked in with the Coast Guard on what to do to increase your odds of survival.

We begin on the Baltic Queen ferry just off the Finnish island of Aland. The water is a chilling 16ºC (60ºF) when a 36-year-old Estonian man falls overboard on Friday night. His absence is not discovered until the next day when the ferry docks. Security cameras show the man falling from the vessel and enable Finnish sea rescue to find him two hours later. Suffering from hypothermia, with a body temperature of 26º C (78ºF), he should be dead.

Actually, he is lucky that he did not die immediately when hitting the water. “When a person falls in the cold water, their body responds to the initial shock with an instantaneous gasp for air, which if their head is underwater may cause the person to swallow water and drown,” says U.S. Coast Guard Safety Specialist Walt Taylor in Coast Guard Cold Water Safety Tips.

The best way to survive falling overboard? Don’t.Most stories of passengers going overboard do not end well. But on a big ship cruise, falling off is difficult to do. In “Death By Cruise Ship,” we tag suicide by cruise ship – alcohol/drug-induced shenanigans close to the edge of the ship and sitting/standing on the guard rail of a balcony stateroom – as common ways to fall off, all of which are avoidable.

But what if for one reason or another you fell off, did not die on impact and wound up in the ocean, watching your cruise ship sail away. What to do? Experts recommend treading water, screaming and waving your arms frantically. The best odds of being rescued are right when it happens and someone might happen to see you.

If the ship sails off without you? “Floating on your back takes the least energy. Lie on your back in the water, spread your arms and legs, and arch your back. By controlling your breathing in and out, your face will always be out of the water and you may even sleep in this position for short periods,” says WildernessSurvival.

Disney Cruise Line Tops All Others In Satisfaction Survey

Disney Cruise LIne
Chris Owen

Ranking cruise lines in a variety of critical areas, Disney Cruise Line came out on top in JD Powers 2013 Cruise Line Satisfaction Report, released today. In spite of recent negative press reports affecting cruise line satisfaction across the board, the survey revealed some surprising trends and priorities. The study also verified some long-held beliefs about cruise travel.

“Many cruise lines in the report have very high levels of passenger satisfaction, well above the report average; however, for more than a year, the overall industry has been dealing with a lot of negative news affecting customer perceptions, expectations and trust,” said Ramez Faza, senior account manager of the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power in a MarineLog report.

Top three cruise lines on a scale of 1000 gave Disney Cruise Line (871) a commanding lead over second place Royal Caribbean International (838) followed by Holland America Line (835). Noted as a big problem for cruise lines, all of which scored high on customer satisfaction, nearly one in five cruise passengers reported having a problem on their sailing.”To raise the bar, the industry must focus on meeting the needs of the nearly 20 percent of passengers who experience a problem with their cruise line experience,” notes Faza. “Cruise lines need to understand the causes of customer dissatisfaction and determine what will motivate them to come back.”

Confirming what many cruise travelers already know, price was rated as the primary reason for choosing a particular cruise line (53 percent), with the average fare paid a reported $1628 per person.

The report of 3,003 cruise travelers in the past 12 months measured cruise line customer satisfaction based on service, stateroom, food, embarkation/debarkation, entertainment, cost, and excursions.

In the February edition of Condé Nast Traveler, Disney Cruise Line also found plenty to be proud of as three of their four ships ranked in the top three places in the large cruise ship category.

Disney Cruise Liner's Floating Water Park