You would think Costa Allegra passengers, stranded at sea for more than two days and enduring overflowing toilets, no power, cold sandwiches and beastly heat, would want to go home immediately and put the nightmare behind them. Not so.
A statement from Costa Cruises says about 70% of the 627 passengers have taken the Italian-based cruise line up on its offer of a free two-week stay in the Seychelle Islands.
Passengers disembarked the crippled ship after reaching Port Victoria on Mahe, the Seychelles' main island, midday Thursday local time. The Allegra lost power Monday after a fire erupted in the engine room and the ship to be towed to port. No injuries were reported among the more than 1,000 passengers and crew members.
Costa is offering passengers a full refund of the cruise fare and travel expenses; a full refund of any on-board expenses incurred during the cruise; and indemnity equivalent to the cost of the fare paid for the cruise and associated travel costs.
Those who opted to continue on vacation have been taken to hotels where there will spend one or two weeks on the islands of Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette and Cerfs. Costa also will organize their return flights home, according to the statement.
Those who skip the free vacation will fly Friday from the Seychelles to Paris, Milan and Zurich on flights organized by Costa en route to their respective homes. They also will be given a voucher for the value of the cruise to apply toward another cruise within 24 months.
Among those on the Allegra who opted to vacation in the Seychelles are American couple Gordon and Eleanor Bradwell of Athens, Ga. The Bradwells told the Associated Press they also would be reimbursed for the $8,000 they spent on the cruise. The story describes conditions aboard ship during the fire:
"Eleanor Bradwell said that the initial response to the alarm seemed to be disorganized, but overall she and her husband felt the shipping line had handled the emergency well.
" 'It could have been worse than it was,' said Gordon. 'It could have been disastrous ...? we're here, we're alive.'
"The couple ate cold sandwiches for three days and moved their bedding onto the deck to escape the stifling heat after the fire left the Costa Allegra without power.
" 'The toilets were running over, there was no electricity. It was very hot,' said Eleanor."
The Allegra incident is the second for Costa Cruises in the last six weeks. The Allegra's sister ship, the Costa Concordia, ran aground near the Italian island of Giglio on Jan. 13, leaving 25 people dead and seven missing.