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Friday, January 20, 2012

Costa Cruise Lines: Dead in the water.

This is the reality of incompetence.

Many of us like to talk about upper management as fat cats who rarely make a difference in how a company performs. That is nice rhetoric, but the reality is that a companies fortunes sink or swim based on the decisions that the top person makes.
Sure, they don't make the products, or serve the customers directly. They don't work the long tireless hours for very low pay that the average man or woman does. But they do make the big decisions.

The phrase "the buck stops here" is campy and cliched, but it is very true. The leader sets the tone, sets the direction,  dictates the tone and actions of those below them on the food chain. They are also charged with the task of making sure they put in place those that will enforce the rules and morals that they promote. In that way, they are in charge of making sure the company reflects the image they want to present.  When that doesn't end up happening, then the ultimate responsibility lies at the top. Or it should.

The Costa Cruise Line accident near Italy last weekend which has killed 11 and probably more to come, is a travesty.
Yes, accidents happen. I get that. You drive a car everyday,  you take major risks. Lots of people die everyday in the free world because of automobile accidents. Anyone who drives understands that.
But this Cruise line accident appears to be no accident. It was incompetence, on many levels.
First, the Captain appears clueless at best, and reckless is also possible. He hit a reef because he was sailing too close to shore. How does that happen? Then he abandons ship and leaves passengers to die. That is not in dispute. He did that. At the very least, if he wants to change course,  then he should have to get authorization for that,  or there should be procedure in place for when such an event will occur. If it simply is the case that he is neglegent,  then the company didn't do the job of vetting him or her out when the hiring process occurred. That again falls on the President of the company. If I sail with such a cruise line, I am trusting that this has been taken care of long before I step on the boat. It should not ever be a consideration. Now that it is, someone has to answer for that. You simply can't just blame the captain.  That is not acceptable and won't fly with the public at large.

The crew,  who are supposed to be there to help, did the exact opposite. There was clear need to get the passengers on lifeboats and off the ship before it capsized. That didn't happen. If fact, the opposite happened. The passengers were told to stay on the ship and really confusion was the only thing that happened.

 Fights broke out to get into the lifeboats, men refused to prioritise women, expectant mothers and children as they pushed themselves forward to escape. Crew ignored their passengers – leaving ‘chefs and waiters’ to help out. 

As she waited for a flight home from Rome, grandmother Sandra Rogers, 62, told the Daily Mail: ‘There was no “women and children first” policy. There were big men, crew members, pushing their way past us to get into the lifeboats. It was disgusting.’

In addition, the crew did not report any trouble on the boat for at least 30 minutes after the boat hit the reef and began to take on water. If they had done so immediately, as should have been procedure, then the Coast Guard would have arrived faster and possibly saved some of those 11 lives.

A dancer who helped to direct petrified passengers off the Costa Concordia said today the instruction to abandon ship should have been given 'an hour earlier, if not more'.

He said: 'We had an announcement saying please stay calm, everything is under control, it's just a minor technical fault.
'Then we had the coding of two short blasts followed by alternate tones which means there is a leak on board and so the crew were divided, very much so.

Read more:

There is supposed to be a safety drill before you sail. That is how any cruise ship does it. Not this one. They rolled the dice, and in this case it backfired with life being lost and their reputation being tarnished. No one ever forgets this type of thing. Safety is just simply a no brainer. It shouldn't even be discussed. You board a ship and before you sail,  you have to know how to get off the boat quickly and safely if an accident of any nature happens. Again, its a no brainer.

Tanya Mohn in quotes a cruise ship expert as saying:

“It may be boring to attend, but the fact is, we’ve seen very few fatalities during cruise ship emergencies, until now,” Brown said. “That is an indication that safety measures are working." One main problem in the Costa Concordia case is “there was no leadership whatsoever,” Brown said.

And finally, many passengers are complaining that the cruise ship company,  Costa, has done nothing whatsoever to help them. This is mind blowing. You fucked up, got people killed, hired totally incompetent staff, didn't follow common safety procedures, and on top of all that you are now letting them just linger and not putting out effort to help them, most of who are thousands of miles from  home.
I have taken cruises before, and this will not deter me from doing so again, but, I would never sail with these jokers. I would never feel safe sleeping at night in the cabin.

Below, an excerpt from an article I read this morning:

 "Late Thursday, Miami-based Carnival Corp., which owns Italian operator Costa Crociere SpA, announced it was conducting a comprehensive audit of all 10 of its cruise lines to review safety and emergency response procedures in the wake of the Costa disaster."

 To me,  that is simply not good enough. It is the right thing to do, but that still leaves in place the head man who decided that safety was not a high priority in his cruise line. Change all the procedures you want. He is still there. How do I know they will be enforced?
Carmine Gallo wrote in Forbes this week:

"A crisis can take down a major brand in minutes and it can take years to restore a reputation.  In any crisis—small or large—top leaders must be visible, empathetic, and communicative."

If the CEO is not fired soon, this Company is dead in the water. In a sink or swim  world, they tested the waters of public confidence and they are sinking like a mobster with a concrete block attached to him.

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