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NEWS


MSC Opera collides with Uniworld’s River Countess in Venice


Cruise collisions ‘could be a disaster’ for the industry


Amie Keeley


Tree cruise ship collisions in the past week “could be a disaster” for the sector if concerns around safety and overtourism are not tackled head on. Travel PR and marketing


It was the third cruise incident


expert Steve Dunne, who is an avid cruiser, warned the “shiny veneer” of cruising was peeling off as the industry came under intense scrutiny aſter an MSC Cruises ship crashed into Uniworld’s River Countess and the San Basilio terminal in Venice. Dramatic video footage – widely


STORY TOP


in a week. Twenty-eight people were killed when river ship Viking Sigyn hit a pleasure boat on the Danube, while Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Columbus struck a “foreign object” as it leſt Amsterdam. Dunne said: “For 15-20


years, the sector has been a poster boy for the travel industry, with ship launches


for bigger and sexier vessels. “But it could start to unravel. Te


sector has to realign itself from big, beautiful ships and talk more about its safety and sustainability record. “I sense they want to sweep these


viewed online – showed people on the dock scrambling for cover as 2,150-berth MSC Opera rammed into the quay and River Countess aſter losing control due to a mechanical fault.


travelweekly.co.uk


things under the carpet. “A bit of that shiny veneer is


coming off and it could be a disaster because it won’t atract the non- cruisers they need to fill ships.”


Te Venice crash, in which four


people suffered minor injuries, reignited a long-running debate around overtourism and large liners entering Venice, with some calling for an outright ban. Clia welcomed the mayor of


Venice’s call for cruise ships to find an alternative passage to port, and is urging work to begin on dredging the Vitorio Emanuele Canal. However, UK & Ireland boss


Andy Harmer pointed out: “Cruise guests account for only 5% of the visitors to Venice. Clia works with cruise lines and authorities to find solutions so when we visit [popular places], we do so sustainably.” He also defended the cruise


sector’s safety record, saying that while capacity grew by 48% between 2009-17, operational incidents


declined by 38%. Harmer added: “People understand these incidents are rare. Safety is our number-one concern.” Commenting on criticism aimed


at the industry over sustainability, he said: “Billions have been spent on cleaner technologies like LNG (fuel), LED power and recycling.” But he conceded the sector still


had a “way to go”. Tis week, Clia will be issuing


new agent resources on sustainability, including reports, messages and stories from people in the industry. MSC Cruises said an investigation


into what caused the Venice crash was taking “longer than expected”. Uniworld has cancelled the next


six sailings of River Countess. › Have these incidents tarnished cruise? Email editorial@travelweekly.co.uk


6 JUNE 2019 5


PICTURE: ANDREA MEROLA/EPA-EFE/Rex Shutterstock


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