Costa Cruise Liner Runs Aground Off Italy’s West Coast

January 13, 2012 on 11:14 pm | In Italy, Italy travel, ThereArePlaces.com, Travel Safety, cruise travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel alert, travel news | 4 Comments

The Costa Concordia Cruise liner ran aground on a sand bar near the Island “Isola del Giglio: off the west coast of Italy, killing six and endangering 3,000 passengers and a crew of 1,000. Several hundred remain on the aground, but severely listing boat. Several were injured during the rescue. For more information see this article by CNN

While looking for news about the boat, we ran across this promo for the Concordia in Costa’s US website. Next, you may find this description of the rescue posted on the Costa UK website to be of interest.

From Costa Cruises
Saturday, January 14th

Time 5.00 am
It is a tragedy that deeply affects our company. Our first thoughts go to the victims and we would like to express our condolences and our closeness to their families and friends. In this moment all our efforts are focused on the completion of the last emergency operations, besides providing assistance to the guests and the crew who were onboard in order to have them going back home as soon as possible. The emergency procedures started promptly to evacuate the ship. The slope, gradually taken over by the ship, made the evacuation extremely difficult. We would like to express our profound gratitude to the Coast Guard and all the forces co-ordinated by the Coast Guard, including the authorities and citizens of the island “Isola del Giglio”, who have been involved in the rescue and assistance to guests and crew members. The company will fully co-operate with the relevant Authorities in order to determine the causes of what happened.”

Time 1.00 am
Costa Cruises confirms the evacuation of about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members on board of the Costa Concordia. An incident occured near the island ‘Isola del Giglio’ of the coast of Italy. The evacuation started promptly, but the position of the ship has worsened, making it more complicated to complete the last part of the evacuation. At this moment, the cause of the incident cannot yet be confirmed. The Company is currently working with the highest commitment to provide all the needed assistance. The Costa Concordia was sailing across the Mediterranean Sea, starting from Civitavecchia with scheduled calls to Savona, Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cagliari and Palermo. About 1.000 passengers of Italian nationality were onboard, as well as more of 500 Germans, about 160 French and about 1.000 crew members. ”

“The Guests had to embark today in Savona and in subsequent ports will be contacted directly by Costa Cruises.”

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Taxi Strike in Greece Causes Havoc for Cruisers

July 21, 2011 on 8:54 am | In Greece Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, cruise travel, strikes, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel news, vacation travel | 2 Comments

The taxi driver strike in Greece that we reported on Monday has been extended and is causing chaos for travelers, especially those on cruise ships.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that taxi drivers have blockaded the port at Corfu and will not allow tour buses through to take the cruisers on their tour of the island. The same appears to have happened at Iraklio on Crete. Those travelers who have paid thousands of dollars for the “cruise of a lifetime” must not be too happy with the striking drivers. Finally, another set of taxi drivers have blocked major roads out of the city of Thessaloniki and similar actions are happening around the country.

Revenues from tourism have been one of the relative strengths in the economy of Greece, but the civil unrest this summer is causing a precipitous decline in these monies. Greece can be a wonderful vacation spot, but it appears that summer of 2011 may not be quite the right time for a visit.
The taxi strike must appear as a crushing blow to the many hotel chains, restaurants and tour companies that had been hoping that 2011 would be a comeback year for tourism in Greece. Unfortunately, it appears that goal will not be realized. We can only hope that 2012 is better for the country, its travel industry and for the millions of our fellow tourists interested in visiting this sometimes enchanting country.

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Princess Cruises Cancels Puerto Vallarta

June 23, 2011 on 8:38 am | In Mexico travel, Travel Safety, cruise travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel news | 2 Comments

USA Today and other sources are reporting that Princess Cruises has decided to cancel port calls at Puerto Vallarta for the rest of the year. The reason for the change in schedule is “safety” and Puerto Vallarta now joins Mazatlan on the list of dropped ports in Mexico.

Although the Princess line has de-emphasized cruises of the Mexican Rivera over the past few years, the current action is yet another bad omen for tourism in Mexico. The Mexico Tourism Board is, understandably, unhappy about the situation and its response is outlined in this article from PVNN.

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Windstar Still Afloat?

May 26, 2009 on 5:00 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, cruise travel, things travelers need to know, travel | Comments Off

I apologize for the delay in posting this story.  When I attempted to post it over a week ago, I found that our Wordpress installation was dysfunctional.  It took several days to repair, but now we are back up and the blog is operating thanks to the help of our friends at HostMySite.com.  The reference to dates in the text is off, but I think you will understand my message.

One of the saddest stories in the travel provider world surrounds the problems that Ambassadors International is having maintaining the Windstar line of ocean cruisers.  Windstar is our favorite small-ship cruise line, as we like the ship-size, the itineraries and the type and level of service that Windstar provides.  Although the cruises are not “cheap”, neither are they pretentious.  You generally get great, though unobtrusive service and mix with a crowd of people small enough to make meaningful friends and life-long acquaintances.

A few years ago, Ambassadors, which then  ran an travel-based event management company, purchased Windstar to accompany its venture of US river cruising called the Majestic Line (now defunct).  Unfortunately, Ambassadors appears not to have had the wherewithal to manage a complex business and began shedding units to continue its operations.  It now appears to be solely focused on Windstar.

Today, Travel Weekly  posted an article that confirmed industry rumors -  Ambassadors may need more cash to stay afloat, I guess that’s the industry phrasing for avoiding bankruptcy, which for many companies is a prelude to financial default and ceasing operations.  A few weeks ago we saw another report that indicated that Ambassador’s accounting firm believed that the company was close to no longer being a “going concern”.

In turn, we have noticed that Windstar is really reducing fees for some of their current cruises and have a suggestion for you.  If you are booked on a future Windstar cruise, be sure to purchase trip insurance that covers a company ceasing operations during your travels.  Some travel insurance companies cover default but not bankruptcy.  What you need to do is explain the situation to your agent and ask them to arrange coverage that will get you home if the cruise line is unable to operate due to financial problems.

Windstar provides a great vacation experience.  We hope they make it.

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