Cruise ship industry impacted by disaster

The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy.

Jeremy Hobson: Rescue operations were suspended this morning on the sunken cruise ship just off the Italian coast. The cruise ship hit a reef Friday night. There was a frantic evacuation of about 4200 people. At least six people have died; sixteen remain unaccounted for. And rescue attempts were halted this morning because of rough seas.

For some context, we turn to cruise ship industry analyst Julian Bray, who's with us now from Cambridge, England. Good morning.

Julian Bray: Good morning.

Hobson: How are people like you who watch the cruise ship industry making sense of this disaster? What went wrong here?

Bray: Everything. This is a disaster on so many different levels. You have a 21st century cruise ship, state of the art. It was built by one of the leading shipbuilders in Italy; it has state of the art navigation systems. It is quite inconceivable that this could happen, and everything seems to have gone wrong here.

Hobson: Did the size of the ship, and the fact that we are dealing with bigger and bigger and bigger cruise ships have anything to do with this?

Bray: People say that the size of these mega cruise ships, that it is a problem getting people off. No, it isn't a problem getting people off, because the point is, they do have the procedures all set. And so, all the safety procedures are in place; it is clearly laid down. And for some reason, very few of the procedures were followed.

Hobson: Julian, what kind of repercussions is this going to have on the industry as you see it at this point?

Bray: This is going to be quite a blow because now is the season for actually thinking about your next holiday. Those who are new to cruising will certainly think twice about it. However, I would say to everybody that lessons will be learned, and hopefully some good will come out of this very black moment for the industry.

Hobson: Julian Bray is a cruise ship industry analyst. Thank you so much, Julian.

Bray: Thank you sir.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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