Disabled Costa Allegra: Cruise Liner Towed Toward the Seychelles
The disabled luxury cruise ship Costa Allegra, which carried more than 1,000 passengers and crew when it caught fire in the pirate-infested Indian Ocean, is being towed toward the Seychelles by a French fishing vessel.
The ship, which became adrift Monday without power more than 200 miles from the Seychelles island nation off the eastern coast of Africa, is being towed by the large French ocean fishing vessel Trevignon in the direction of Mahé island, according to Genoa Costa Crociere headquarters.
Costa Cruises said that the ship, now traveling at 2 knots, is expected to reach land by Thursday morning. The ship’s maximum speed in normal circumstances is 22 knots.
The plan for the stricken vessel changed today. It was originally being towed to the small island of Desroches before officials realized Desroches lacked the necessary security conditions for mooring the ship and guests’ disembarkation. Desroches, a favorite vacation spot for Prince William and Kate Middleton, is less than two miles by one mile in size and has one luxury $1,500 per night resort with 48 rooms and villas.
“The situation could change because we are not talking about a normal navigation,” a Costa spokesman said today, adding that “emergency electrical supply is working for lighting, not for air condition, refrigeration or other ship services.”
Two tugs, which will allow for an increase in speed, were approaching the ship today.
According to Italian daily news paper La Repubblica, the passengers spent the night on the outdoor decks as ordered by the captain, after temperatures inside soared. The paper also reported that the AIS system was turned off so to avoid detection by pirates and that there is no hot water.
Costa Cruises said that a helicopter took off from Mahè this morning for the area where the ship is located, bringing to the ship both food and communication devices, including satellite phones and VHF radios, and would continue to supply food until the ship reaches shore. Guests were invited to prepare their luggage in order to be ready for the time of disembarkation, the company said.
The company issued a statement overnight saying that the guests onboard the ship, which left Madagascar Saturday, are being kept continuously informed and assisted by the captain and the staff onboard and that a cold breakfast was served this morning.
Eight American citizens are on board the vessel, which is carrying 636 passengers and 413 crew members on a nearly month-long cruise with numerous stops at island nations off the east coast of Africa along the way to Savona, Italy. The majority of the passengers are European, while 15 Russians, 13 Canadians and 2 Brazilians are also aboard.
Nine members of the Italian Navy are also on board, tasked with security against pirates.
The Italian cruise line had released a statement Monday saying no one was injured, and the blaze that broke out in the engine room in the ship’s aft was quickly extinguished.
“The passengers and crew are in safe condition,” Cmd. Cosimo Nicastro of the Italian coast guard said Monday. “They are not necessarily comfortable because the ship only has emergency power on board, but they are safe.”
The Costa Allegra is also known as the ‘crystal ship,’ because of the huge glass windows on its deck, and is the oldest and smallest of the Costa fleet.
This is the second emergency situation this year for Costa Cruises, which is owned by Carnival Cruises. In January, 25 people are known to have died and seven are still missing and presumed dead after the Costa Concordia capsized after hitting rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.
Fuel transfer operations are still underway on the Concordia, which lies on its side in the sea just outside the island’s port.