Costa offers cruises on 'new' 20-year-old ship
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Monday 23 January 2012
Costa Cruises has transferred passengers with forward bookings on the Costa Concordia to a replacement ship it describes as "brand new" – but it is actually 20-years old and in dry dock in Genoa for a refit.
As prospective compensation claims against the firm by passengers who survived the shipwreck intensify, Costa Cruises has written to customers holding reservations for the stricken vessel.
Anyone booked within the next two months is being offered a full refund, with a 30 per cent discount on a future cruise. From 24 March, Costa Concordia's place will be taken by "a completely new ship, Costa neoRomantica". In fact, the vessel was launched 20 years ago as the Costa Romantica. It is currently undergoing what the firm calls "an innovative total restyling". Customers who do not wish to sail aboard a ship 14 years older than Costa Concordia are being offered a refund, but only if they cancel within two weeks.
Since the shipwreck, The Independent has sought clarification from Costa Cruises about the rights of passengers booked aboard Costa Concordia's sister ships. The line has four other vessels of an almost identical design; a fifth ship sails for a sister company as Carnival Splendor. But all questions have been rebuffed. To the most recent inquiry, made on Saturday, a spokeswoman for the company said: "We still don't have enough information to answer your requests."
According to the Costa Cruises UK website, anyone cancelling will lose between £100 and the entire cost of the trip, depending on the cruise and the proximity of the departure date.
Lawyers for some of the survivors have said they will demand at least $160,000 (£105,000) for the suffering of each of the passengers evacuated after the shipwreck.
For information on Costa Cruises passengers' rights, please see independent.co.uk/cruiserights
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