The Costa Allegra is being towed toward Mahe in the Seychelles following an engine-room fire Monday that left the ship adrift. None of the 636 passengers and 413 crew members were injured, according to Costa. Food and communications gear are being sent to the ship via helicopter; the vessel is expected to reach land early Thursday.
“Guests onboard are continuously being informed and assisted by the captain and the staff,” Costa said in an emailed statement.
Passengers were sent to their muster stations as a precaution when the fire broke out, according to the company. The ship currently has no air conditioning and lighting is limited, but passengers were served a cold breakfast Tuesday, according to Costa. The seas has been struck in the past by Somalian pirates, but Costa officials have said they have armed security on board.
This is the second incident this year for a Costa ship. In January, the now-infamous Costa Concordia—a sister ship to the Allegra—was grounded off Italy; at least 25 people died. In that case, the ship's captain has been blamed for the accident.
At this point, the Allegra situation appears to have handled smoothly, much in the way that previous incidents have been managed aboard ships owned by major lines—a reminder that overall, the industry has an enviable safety record.
At the moment, it does seem that cruise ships are sailing under an unlucky star. Just over a week ago, 22 cruise passengers were robbed by bandits on their way to a nature hike near Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. The cruise line, Carnival, has now removed Puerta Vallarta from its itineraries. Both lines are owned by Carnival Corp.
These incidents can't be pleasant for passengers. But despite our longing for risk-free, trouble-free experiences, perfection simply isn't a realistic expectation on vacation any more than it is at home.
What we should expect is professional, caring attention when things do go awry. The mark of a great hotel, cruise line or tour operator is how its staff handles problems. It's too early yet to know whether Costa will appropriately fill that role in this latest incident, but indications so far are good.
Jane Wooldridge is Travel + Leisure's cruise correspondent.