The grounding of the Costa Concordia might just be a turning-point in improving standards in the cruise industry. I am certainly not alone in having had worries about the way the business has developed at enormous speed with very little regulation to control it. Safety standards, employment rights and consumer protection are just some of the areas of concern. Just think of the way that airlines are regulated and then look at the cruise business – the difference is alarming. If attention can be focused on some of these issues then, maybe, some good will come out of a horrible event.
Carnival did themselves no good at all by “generously” offering all passengers on the cruise a refund and a 30% discount off their next cruise. Quite rightly, this was described as a joke and an insult by passengers. We do not really need to worry about the passengers though. There are enough sharp lawyers acting on the case for some very substantial pay-outs to be made in the end. This will prove a very nasty loss indeed for the ship’s insurers.
But what about the crew?
The ship’s officers, who are employees of Costa, will presumably be redeployed to other vessels but the majority of the crew (waiters, sailors and entertainers) would have been employed through agencies. A group of Indonesian waiters have just been flown back home and were reluctant to talk about their experience but said no one had mentioned any compensation. So, they have lost their possessions and their jobs without notice, been flown home and, because they do not want to upset their agency, they dare not complain.
They suffered just as much trauma as the passengers but will they have sharp lawyers acting for them? Let’s hope so.