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Costa Cruises says passengers' 30% discount offer misconstrued

January 24, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu
  • Italian divers approach the grounded cruise ship Costa Concordia as rescue efforts continue for the 15 people still missing.
Italian divers approach the grounded cruise ship Costa Concordia as rescue… (Gregorio Borgia / Associated…)

Is Costa Cruises, owner of the ill-fated Costa Concordia, tone-deaf or in touch by wooing passengers with a 30% discount on future cruises?

Recent reports have blasted the Carnival Corp. subsidiary for supposedly hawking the markdown to survivors of the Jan. 13 disaster, which has killed more than a dozen people on board when the massive ship capsized off the Italian coast.

It’s an “insulting” proposal, said service strategist John Tschohl. Carnival should take a cue from the Ritz Carlton, which he said has been known to drop up to $2,000 to solve customer problems, and make their amends by offering at least several free cruises with first-class accommodations.

But Costa claims that the 30% deal for future travel was being offered, on top of a full refund, to guests who had been booked to sail on the Costa Concordia from Jan. 14 onward — not to those on board the ship when it ran aground.

For the unlucky travelers present at the tragedy, the cruise line said it would refund the full cost of the voyage directly or through a travel agency. Any travel costs incurred by passengers in reaching the initial port of departure or heading home after the accident will be covered, Costa said, along with all onboard expenses.

The company also said it would reimburse related medical expenses and will also attempt to return valuables left in cabin safes.

As for future travel deals, “the final compensation to guests on board the 13th has not been determined yet,” the company said.

On the CruiseMates online forum, some users claiming to have been on board the Concordia during the catastrophe said Costa had offered them the 30% discount, though the company is vigorously denying the validity of such stories. 

One such user, identified as Arion, said cruise booking site SeaScanner delivered an email claiming that Costa was offering either a full refund with no future booking, a full refund and an additional 30% reduction on future travel or a full refund as well as a free ticket for any seven-day cruise until the end of March. Passengers were asked to decide on an option by the end of the month, Arion said.

Though after enduring such a traumatic experience, chances are that the last thing those travelers will want to do is get anywhere near another boat. 

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