Jeremy Hobson: Wherever you are right now, be happy you’re not on the Costa Allegra. That’s a cruise ship with more
than a thousand passengers on it being towed through the Indian Ocean to dry land. There was a fire on board the ship yesterday which knocked out power.
And oh by the way: The Costa Allegra is owned by the same company that owned the Costa Concordia, which sank off the coast of Italy last month.
Julian Bray is a cruise industry analyst and he joins us now. Good morning.
Julian Bray:Good morning, sir.
Hobson: So of course nobody thought it was possible for a cruise ship to sink in 2012 — that happened. Now we’ve had a fire on another cruise ship. How common is this?
Bray: Well, it is actually quite common, but normally they manage to actually put out fires and things — which they have in this case. But unfortunately, the generator sets, which supplies the power for the entire cruise ship, has been affected. They don’t have any power, so that’s affected all the services, but they do have backup batteries, which is keeping the emergency lighting going.
Hobson: After this incident and the Costa Concordia, what happens to a company like Carnival, which owns the company that owns this ship — or the cruise ship industry in general? Do people decide they don’t want to take cruises anymore?
Bray: Well, you’ve actually hit the very nail on the head, because I’d be very surprised if Costa Cruises is still a trading entity by the end of this year. Carnival now have to have a very serious look at their portfolio. And a lot of people are quite nervous about going on cruises, which is a shame because a lot of the cruise companies are brilliant. But the good thing is that the rescue operation is well underway; the ship is being towed into a line in the Seychelles, where they will go on little beachcraft, aircraft to the main island and then be repatriated home by normal airlines.
Hobson: In the meantime they’re having cold breakfast, I hear.
Bray: Oh yes, and I’m afraid the sanitary, the bathroom arrangements aren’t that brilliant either.
Hobson: Julian Bray, cruise ship industry analyst joining us from the U.K. Thanks a lot.
Bray: Thank you.