It's been a bad year so far for Costa Cruises. In January the luxury liner Costa Concordia ran aground, killing 32 people, and now its ship the Costa Allegra, after suffering a fire in its electric generator room on Feb. 27, is being towed by a French-flagged fishing ship to Mahé in the Seychelles. Scheduled time of arrival: Thursday, March 1.
Why is the ship being towed? Has it lost all power? Is there electricity (and air conditioning) for the 636 passengers on board? Before we jump to the news sites, let's go to Costa Cruises' Facebook page and Twitter account for answers from the company itself.
There is a statement about the fire from Feb. 27, but no clear account of how it affected the ship's engine room. There was another official post on the Costa Cruises Facebook page that ships were sailing toward the Allegra, but no reason given why—no statement about the state of the engine room or electricity on board the ship. On Feb. 28 there was a long, dry boilerplate statement about fire prevention on Costa Cruises ships—zero human touch, zero relevant information about why the Allegra needed to be tugged and what the situation was like for the passengers.
Later on Feb. 28 came a statement explaining that the original plan to tow the ship to Desroches Island wasn't going to work because of mooring issues and that instead the ship would be towed to the Seychelles archipelago. But why did the ship need to be towed, and what are the real conditions on the Allegra? This was the closest one could get to an answer from the official statement: "Helicopters will ensure continuous supply of food, comfort items, flashlights in order to mitigate guests' discomfort given the difficult conditions on board." Just how difficult are the conditions?
Another statement came via Twitter and Facebook that additional ships had arrived to provide assistance and that "thanks to the arrival of a small generator delivered by a local Navy ship that is present on site, the ship’s crew is doing everything possible to make the situation on board more comfortable by trying to restore basic services."
Basic services are out? What basic services? Just how uncomfortable are the passengers? Where is the actual statement that the ship cannot run on its own power and that, in fact, power is out on the entire ship (if that is indeed the case)? To fill in these crucial blanks, one must turn to other sources.
Costa Cruises appears to be unable to tell its own story—all of it. In this kind of crisis, the company should be operating as a news organization and tell the complete story as it happens, particularly after its miserable and tragic first month of the year.
UPDATE: The Costa Allegra reached the Seychelles on Thursday, March 1, according to AP.
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