It’s been a two-and-one-half year ordeal, but Costa Concordia is only a week away from finally departing Giglio, a small island off Italy’s western coastline. But the badly damaged vessel won't sail away under its own power, obviously.
Late last week, the last of multiple “spontoons” or buoyancy tanks have been attached to the sides of the ship. They’ll provide stability and keep the ship afloat.
As soon as all government and supplier approvals are received, likely within a week, the ship will be towed or transported to Genoa, Italy, where it will be broken apart and scrapped.
It’s been a long odyssey since Costa Concordia ran aground and partially capsized just off the coast of Giglio in January 2012. Thirty-two people died in the accident, others were injured.
People have traveled to the tiny island over the past two-and-one-half years to gawk at the wreckage, and steps taken to stabilize the ship so it can be towed away.
In an almost Herculean effort, the ship was parbuckled or “righted” last year and now rests on an underwater, man-made platform.
Divers recently released a video of their foray into the stricken ship; this amazing video shows both exterior decks now underwater, as well as interior spaces including the atrium. It was published by the U.K. Telegraph. Agents may view that video here:
With so much media attention on the shipwreck, what's the takeaway this year for cruise sellers? Drew Daly, vice president of sales performance for CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., acknowledges that events surrounding the Costa Concordia from 2012 did impact consumer confidence in cruising.
But it's a different world today, Daly told Travel Agent: "In 2014, we have seen an increase in our sales and bookings resulting from the travel agents' expertise in overcoming any concerns about cruising brought up by the customer during the sales process."
Similarly, “at Cruise Planners, we have had record years in both cruise and land sales, despite happenings in the industry,” said Michelle Fee, CEO, Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. “We have not been negatively affected by the Costa incident, and our travel advisors are dedicated to selling, educating themselves and growing their franchise businesses.”
Fortunately, it appears travel sellers who are still getting questions won't need to deal with those questions much longer -- as least regarding the imagery of the ship lying off the coast of Giglio.
But Costa Concordia is a large vessel, so once it arrives at San Giorgio del Porto, a Genoa shipyard, the ship's dismantling will likely take about two years.