MS Costa Concordia was the largest Italian passenger ship ever built. Only six years old and built at a cost of 450 million Euro, this Italian cruise ship was rather extraordinary. Nearly 300 metres long, with a layout consisting of 13 decks, with 1500 cabins (550 with private balconies), 4 swimming pools (2 with retractable covers), 5 jacuzzis, 5 spas, a pool-side movie screen on the pool deck, 5 restaurants, 13 bars (including a cigar and cognac bar) and the world’s largest exercise facility at sea, boasting a 6000 sq metre fitness centre, a gym, a thalassotherapy pool (whatever that is) and a turkish bath.
The name ‘Concordia’ was supposed to express the wish for continuing harmony, unity and peace between European nations. However the ship began life with a less than perfect launch, when at Senstri Ponente on 2nd September 2005, the champagne bottle failed to break.
In a time when financial markets around the world, especially in Europe and the USA, are obsessed with the maxim ‘too big to fail’, MS Costa Concordia has proven again that no ship is too big to sink. Strangely, the picture of a luxury liner sailing irresponsibly close to the rocks, only to crash into them ripping a huge hole in the hull, bears a nervous parallel to a European Economic Union, which also seems to be in very shallow water. In spite of the tragic loss of life, in many ways it remains a marvel that over 4000 passengers and crew were rescued. We can only hope that when the single currency Euro and EU inevitably lists and then rapidly takes on water, that the economic tragedy is also limited. As in the past we can pretty much guarantee that when the finance ships sink, the captains of banking will take the only life boats and it’s pretty unlikely any of them will ever see the inside of a court room or an Italian gaol. We can only hope that governments will be quick on the scene, will attempt to quell panic, will encourage an orderly abandonment of ship and will feed, house and clothe the survivors.
‘It won’t happen’, you say! ‘It can’t happen’, you say! ‘We know what we are doing’, you say! ‘Yes, we are in shallow water, but our technology won’t let it happen’, you say!
Well, tell that to the passengers of the Costa Concordia - at least the lucky ones who are still alive.