You are here: Home > Cruise Travel > Costa CEO: Captain did not follow normal route

Costa CEO: Captain did not follow normal route

The captain of the Costa Cruises ship that partially sank on Friday after hitting rocks off the coast of Italy had diverted the vessel onto a route not authorized by the company, its CEO says.

“It is human error here,” Costa chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi told reporters dialed into a conference call this morning. “The captain did not follow the authorized route that is used by Costa ships very frequently.”

Foschi says Costa ships travel the passage near where the ship ran into rocks on Friday more than 100 times a year but always stay further out to sea. There has been only one other time when a Costa ship has traveled close to the island of Giglio, where it ran aground, he said, and that was in August 2011 to view a celebration. In that case, the maneuver near the island was authorized and the ship stayed a safe distance from shore.

When asked if he knew why the captain, Francesco Schettino, had taken the ship off course, Foschi suggested that the 10-year veteran of the company wanted to show off the ship to the port area of Giglio that it was passing.

RELATED:  Cruise sellers brace for slowdown in bookings
MORE:  Carnival faces millions in losses from accident

“He decided to change the course of the ship to go closer to the island and pass in front of the little city that sits on that island,” Foschi said. “This is what he wanted to do.”

Italian prosecutors are holding Schettino for questioning on possible charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship before all passengers were off.

Foschi suggested other officers and crew members of the ship didn’t interfere with the captain’s decision because it was not their place.

“The captain has the authority by law to take (a) decision on board,” he said. “In this particular case the captain decided to change the route, and he went into water he did not know.”

Foschi said the captain was on the bridge of the ship at the time of the accident along with several other crew members. Despite reports the captain was drinking at dinner before the wreck, Foschi said he didn’t think the captain drank. He noted Costa ship crews undergo random tests for drug and alcohol use.

Foschi said the company is unable to give a timeline of what took place after the incident began because Italian prosecutors have seized the ship’s data recorders and other resources that would allow it to piece together a sequence of events.

“We have no access at this point to all the information that would let us understand correctly what happened,” he said. “It is in the hands of the prosecutor who is conducting the formal investigation.”

READER POLL:  Does accident make you less comfortable about cruising?

Foschi said the company is doing everything it can to account for and take care of every passenger and crew member who was on the ship, and it’s also focused on the environmental issues involved in the sinking. So far, he said, no fuel oil has spilled from the vessel.

“So far there have not been environmental impacts, but we are very concerned to what will happen in the future,” he said.

Foschi defended the ship’s crew, who have been criticized by some passengers for not responding quickly during the emergency. He noted that the line rigorously trains it staff for emergencies, holding lifeboat drills for crew every other week across its fleet.

“The crew performed very well,” he said. “We were able to evacuate in two hours time 4,200 people under very severe circumstances.”

The ship listed sharply during the emergency, making it impossible to deploy lifeboats from both sides of the ship, Foschi noted. It was a turn of events that created “a very difficult situation,” he said.

Foschi also addressed criticism that the ship had not held a lifeboat drill for passengers after departing from Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, earlier in the day. He noted the line follows U.S. Coast Guard and International Maritime Organization rules that drills must take place within 24 hours of departing, and a drill had been scheduled for the day after departure. The accident happened just three-and-a-half hours after departing, he said.

Foschi also noted that the ship had embarked many of its passengers at ports that came before Civitavecchia on the line’s schedule, and all of those people had been put through lifeboat drills days earlier. He said only 696 of the 3,206 passengers on board the ship at the time of the accident had boarded for the first time in Civitavecchia and thus had not undergone a drill.

Still, Foschi said the company would review its policy of when to hold lifeboat drills.

The accident could impact cruising bookings, Foschi also acknowledged. “I would believe that unfortunately particularly for Costa but not only for Costa there will be some little downturn,” he said. “But I don’t expect it last too long. The industry is extremely safe, and the customer knows that.”

The 114,500-ton Costa Concordia ran aground and partially sank off the coast of Italy on Friday, leaving at least five people dead. In a statement on Sunday, Costa Cruises said the disaster appears to have been caused by “human error” on the part of the ship’s captain.

Note: The Cruise Log is looking to speak to passengers, or friends relatives of passengers, from Costa Concordia. Please e-mail us at

Similar news:
    None Found

Tags: ,

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.