UPDATE: First light over the island of Giglio, Italy reveals that COSTA CONCORDIA has now capsized and lies partially submerged just outside the port. Reportedly, 8 people have lost their lives.
One of the largest ships in the huge fleet of Costa Crociere, the 114,147 gross ton COSTA CONCORDIA ran aground on the evening of Friday, January 13th, off the Tuscan coast of Italy, near the island of Giglio. Initial reports confirm at least two passengers have been killed. Among the complement of 4,200 people on board are 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members. Some people jumped overboard and swam to shore as the cruise ship took on a 20 degree list to starboard and appeared to be in danger of sinking. Others were evacuated by boats. The ship is heeled over and appears to be resting against a small breakwater, with several of the lifeboats nearby in the water.
The COSTA CONCORDIA was built in 2006 and at the time was the largest Italian ship in history, with a 952 foot length and a beam of 116 feet. The cruise had begun two hours earlier from Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) on a 7-day itinerary scheduled to visit Savona, Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Caligari, and Palermo. Guests had the opportunity to board at various ports, depending on their nationality. The majority of passengers originated in Italy, although there were also large numbers of German and French passengers aboard. At dinner time, about 8:00pm, there was a loud “boom” reported and shortly thereafter, passengers were advised to don life jackets and report to their muster stations. As this news is still unfolding at the time of writing, it is unclear what may have caused this serious accident. Local Coast Guard officials do not believe the ship is in imminent danger of sinking.
Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years. A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary. A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs. Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America. With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.