Simon Calder: Cruise industry questions over Costa Concordia's loss

  • @SimonCalder

As stories of heroism, confusion and despair continued to flow from the Costa Concordia yesterday, attention began to switch from a small island off the west coast of Italy to the south bank of the Thames in London – location of the International Maritime Organization, the UN agency responsible for safety at sea.

Officials will be seeking to understand what befell a 21st-century ship with navigation and safety equipment of the highest specification on a routine voyage in the most familiar of waters.

David Selby, a cruise expert with Travel Yields, said: "If there was anyone that thought 100,000-plus tonne ships in the 21st-century were unsinkable, they will be thinking again."

Concern is also focusing on Concordia's sister ships,built to a near-identical design. Four are in service with Costa, with a fifth due to join the fleet in May. Hundreds of thousands of passengers are booked to travel on them in the coming months. The company did not respond to questions from The Independent about their concerns and rights. Stephen Bath, managing director of Bath Travel and former president of Abta, said: "This won't be the end of the cruise industry, but it is bound to cause a pause in business." Meanwhile, as passengers straggle home to Britain, France, and Germany, the ship's loss has placed about 1,000 crew in a wretched position. When it went down they lost their personal possessions and livelihoods overnight. Their future looks even more uncertain than that of the cruise industry.