Monday, February 27, 2012

Costa Allegra Cruise Ship Stranded; Costa Cruise Owners Realize 'We Have Absolutely No Idea What We're Doing'

ROME, Italy (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- The operators of the ill-fated Costa Concordia, which sent 32 passengers to Davy Jones' Locker on January 13 after the inept captain grounded the vessel and then abandoned ship, are facing a new series of problems as another ship, the Costa Allegra, has been stranded in pirate-infested waters off Seychelles. Representatives from Costa Cruises, which owns the fleet, told the press that a fire in the engine room set the ship adrift in the Indian Ocean with over 1,000 passengers and crew members aboard. Late Monday night, the vessel was located 200 miles south-west of the Seychelles and about 20 miles from Alphonse Island, with only the emergency lights operating. Paolo Raspanti, a public relations officer for Costa Cruises, addressed reporters Monday afternoon, explaining: "Our motto is 'Cruising Italian Style.' Sadly, the name says it all. If you consider that Columbus bumbled his way to North America while trying to find India, you must acknowledge that we Italians are horrible sailors. Last night's incident with the Costa Allegra further proves that we have absolutely no idea what we're doing."

Raspanti did confirm that the fire had been contained immediately after it was discovered, which prevented it from spreading to other areas of the ship. The Italian Coast Guard also verified that no injuries had occurred, that the ship remains upright, and the captain, as far as they can ascertain, is still on the bridge.

A fishing boat is scheduled to arrive Tuesday night with supplies for the passengers. With weather conditions becoming rougher, questions have arisen about the likelihood of the fishing boat reaching the stranded ship in choppy seas. Raspanti assured the public that the rendezvous would take place as scheduled: "The pilot of the fishing boat is not one of our employees, so we have every reason to believe he will reach the Costa Allegra without incident."

But despite the seaworthy condition of the ship and a fairly coordinated rescue effort, the government of Seychelles expressed deep concerns about the possibility of pirate attacks. Raspanti said the company had already taken precautions and placed nine Italian marines on the liner as a security measure.

"The government tells us that at this time they have seen no pirate activity," Raspanti added. "But even so, we're not worried about the safety of our passengers. There's no way a bunch of funny dressed men with swords are going to take nine armed marines. We may be incompetent, but we're not stupid."

(c) 2012. See disclaimers.

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