On Monday, Carnival Corp. estimated that the Costa Concordia cruise ship sinking off Italy's coast would lower net income by $155 million to $175 million in fiscal 2012.
Passenger bookings have dropped for Carnival, the world's largest cruise ship company, since Costa Concordia ran aground off the Tuscan island of Giglio on Friday, Jan. 13, triggering an evacuation of over 4,000 passengers and crew members. However, industry insiders remain positive.
Costa's booking activity is difficult to interpret because of the significant rebooking activity stemming from the loss of the ship's use and related re-deployments, the company said. However, we believe it to be down significantly. Despite these recent trends, we believe the incident will not have a significant long-term impact on our business.
Fleet-wide booking volumes, excluding Costa, declined in the mid teens'' following the disaster through Jan. 25, bottoming out Jan. 16, Carnival revealed Monday.
At least 17 people died after the ship ran aground, with another 16 still missing. The ship remains partially submerged off the Italian coast and, on Monday, all rescue efforts officially ended.
Since the disaster, Carnival announced a review of safety and emergency response procedures across its entire fleet. The Miami-based company owns nine cruise ship brands including the Cunard Line, Holland America, and Princess. Costa Concordia represents 1.5% of Carnival's overall feet capacity.
Cruise watchers have been looking to see what, if any, impact the Costa Concordia cruise ship sinking would have on cruise booking. Though it's too early to determine any long-term effects, indicators show that sales remain strong.
Statistically, cruising remains one of the safest vacation options, which may account for why few travelers canceled existing trips in the wake of the Costa Concordia disaster.
It is very sad, one writer noted in an open forum on cruise site CruiseMates. But it isn't changing any of my cruise plans.
Cruise.co.uk, Britain's largest online cruise agent, reported 150,000 searches in the week following the disaster - just 7,000 fewer than the previous week.
Another European site, Cruise118, boasted a 10 percent increase on 2011 numbers while North American sites CruiseOne and Cruises.com posted gains of six percent.
Vicky Mary, president of Cincinnati-based Victoria Travel, said she hasn't booked Costa in several years but agreed cruise sales for both Europe and elsewhere remained normal.
I booked a cruise today and I'll book another tomorrow, Mary said.
She was adamant people shouldn't be worried about safety.
When you listen to the people who built these new ships, I mean, they're built incredibly well. I think that people understand that this is an anomaly. People see that the big ships are incredible. They're like living in a fantasy. I mean they replicate cities - how cool is that?
January is typically part of what is known as Wave Season, the most active cruise booking period of the year known for special offers from most of the major lines. Wave Season can last for a few weeks or more depending on what bargains are in place and how severe the winter weather becomes.
Things to Consider Before Taking a Cruise:
Know Your Personal Health before you leave on a cruise. Cover all your bases and check your itinerary to ensure you have the proper vaccines for the regions you'll visit. Bring as much documentation and information as possible because, though every ship has a doctor on board, levels of training vary from ship to ship. Most doctors are also considered contractors and as such are not employees of the cruise line. This can create a legal grey area if something goes wrong.
Traveler's Insurance covers a variety of trip-related problems from lost luggage to emergency cancellations. Cruise ships do, however, create some unique situations that are best discussed with your provider before you take a trip. For example, find out of your coverage includes things like helicopter evacuations.
The Reputation of a Cruise Line can tell a lot about its operating procedures. Before you book, research the safety and sanitation of various liners. In the U.S., the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has records of cruise ship inspections under its Vessel Sanitation Program that are available to the public.
Know the Ship's Layout before you set sail and familiarize yourself with the emergency procedures. Take note of the location of your life preservers, what lifeboat you are assigned to, and the meaning of the ship's emergency signals. Every ship is required by law to hold a fire and lifeboat drill with passengers within the first 24 hours and it is imperative that you attend.