Italian cruise ship disaster raises concerns among travelers
After the cruise ship disaster in Italy last weekend, local travel agencies working to reassure Hoosiers who want to book cruises.
Cruise experts have been following the investigation closely. Six people died and sixteen others remain unaccounted for, including two Americans, a couple from Minnesota. The 4,000-passenger ship capsized Friday night and rescue operations have been underway ever since.
"I just thought I would not want to be on it," said traveler Mack Furlow.
Furlow and his wife, Diane, have taken many cruises and are headed back to sea in just a few days.
"In ten years, we have had ten cruises. In some years, we have had two," Furlow said.
The chairman and CEO of the cruise line says Captain Francesco Schettino made an unauthorized change-of-course that led to the deadly crash against a reef.
The captain is behind bars. He's being investigated for manslaughter, abandoning the ship and causing a shipwreck. Passengers say he made his way to safety before everyone on board had been evacuated. And the Italian coast guard says he rejected their efforts to get him to return to the ship.
The ship's tilt made many of the life rafts useless, and helicopters had to rescue dozens of people still on board.
At the Grueninger Travel Group, they're still booking cruises, but clients are calling with safety questions.
"By international law, the cruise lines do have to perform that drill within 24 hours from leaving the pier. I would be willing to bet that voluntarily, all of the cruise lines are starting to move that up in light of this recent news to probably do that a lot sooner," said Chris Soto, Grueninger Travel Group. "If you are not there at the mandatory drill so they can tick off your name, they will come and find you.
Furlow said he was surprised to hear one of the passengers talk about not having an emergency drill.
"She said they did not have such a drill and had not had it by the time the accident happened," Furlow said.
Meantime, there are increasing concerns that any further movement of the wreck could cause some of the 500,000 gallons of fuel on board to leak into the pristine waters off the island. The waters are a protected dolphin sanctuary.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.