I battened down the hatches last week trying to meet a looming deadline (met, more or less). Yes, Wi-Fi was disabled and real books and photocopies teetered over my laptop. I figured a few days away from the 24/7 shipwreck news cycle wouldn’t miss much. Then I opened the Sunday Times to an enormous photograph of a half-sunken cruise ship. I’ve been playing catch up ever since.
Fortunately, the reporting on the Costa Concordia has been fantastic. NPR and BBC have been producing some great coverage of the wreck, its ramifications, and the ongoing salvage effort. For the industry perspective I rely on gCaptain–“The Captain of the Coast Concordia is Totally Screwed,” for example, offers a trenchant analysis that you just can’t find anywhere else.
With eleven confirmed dead and fears of environmental devastation to Europe’s “biggest designated marine park” growing, the Costa Concordia has turned into a media circus. (gCaptain’s server went down this morning). But why does this wreck get more press than other recent wrecks, which have also claimed lives and devastated environments? No doubt part has to do with the fact the Concordia was a cruise ship not a tanker, cargo ship, or fishing vessel.
Sadly, we expect–even condone–the everyday disasters that underwrite our global economic system. Cruise ships are supposed to be safe–they’re floating hotels not sea-going vessels–and fun–their captains apparently (routinely?) engage in “touristic navigation,” that is maneuvering a vessel to thrill tourists. Thrill they do and the cruise industry “is the fastest growing segment of the travel industry – achieving more than 2,100 percent growth since 1970.” As such a cruise ship wreck is unpardonable. But never mind those other wrecks.