Many of the Costa Allegra passengers who disembarked on the island of Mahé in the Seychelles on Thursday morning will extend their vacation, and are hoping that their next two weeks on land on a tropical island will be incident free.
In recompense for their ruined cruise, Costa is offering passengers two-week vacations on the Seychelles islands of Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette and Cerfs, where prices for rooms generally range from $400 to $2000 a night.
As of Wednesday night, 376 of the 626 tourists from the Allegra have decided to take the tropical getaway, according to the company. About a third will stay for a week and the rest will lounge on the Seychelles' famous beaches for the full two weeks.
For the passengers who opted out, the company has arranged for flights home, via Rome, that will leave Thursday evening.
While free for the passengers, the new vacation was paid for with three uncomfortable, panic-stricken days at sea. The Allegra lost all power on Monday after a fire in the electrical room, leaving the ship drifting in the Indian Ocean some 250 miles from its destination without working engines.
The ship's crew prepared passengers for an evacuation, getting as far as lowering life rafts. While the media has warned that Allegra was floating in a sea riddled with Somali pirates, the passengers were far safer on board the Allegra, where there are anti-pirating measures in place, than if they had evacuated.
'Pirate infested waters' conjures up all sort of terrible things, said Mark Murphy, chief executive of travel-industry group Travalliance. But there really isn't any danger of pirates taking over the cruise ship.
Instead of abandoning ship, the Allegra's captain sent out a distress signal, which was answered by a French fishing boat and the Seychelles navy. The boat was towed to the Seychelles main island of Mahé for three days, without power, running water or hot food.
The ship reached port at 9:15 a.m. local time on Thursday, exactly on schedule with what was predicted by Costa once the tow began on Tuesday night. The passengers who came ashore on Thursday told their harrowing sea tales to reporters.
It was terrible, one passenger told IBTimes' UK. Hygiene conditions were absolutely deplorable. I have some photos that show the state of the toilets. We stayed for three days without electricity; it's very difficult to live in such conditions, especially in such heat.
The heat was unbearable, so we had to spend most of our nights on the top deck of the ship, another passenger said.
Passengers reportedly moved their bedding to the top desks to be cooled by the slight sea breeze. Staff on the ship also gave out bottled mineral water for hygienic purposes, according to Costa.
Despite the fire and the conditions, all of the passengers remained relatively unharmed. The Seychelles Red Cross was at hand on the dock on Thursday to assist anyone needing medical attention.
It could have been worse than it was, passenger Gordon Bradwell told The Associated Press. It could have been disastrous ... we're here, we're alive.