Travel News

The Cruise Industry Post Oslo Attacks and Carnival’s Magic Rescue

Locations in this article:  Barcelona, Spain Oslo, Norway

From the Olso attacks to a creative rescue in the Mediterranean, the cruise industry is in the headlines this news cycle. Peter spoke with‘s Carolyn Spencer Brown about the latest developments out at sea.

Peter Greenberg: In the wake of the Oslo attacks, how was the cruise industry affected?

Carolyn Spencer Brown: MSC had one cruise ship in port when it happened. We heard from some readers who were on board that didn’t really notice. They heard a big boom, but didn’t think twice.

I suspect that it didn’t impact the cruise travelers as much as it could have because it was a really rainy day. A lot of people had come back from their shore tours and had their lunch on board and just kind of hung out on the ship.

The cruise market had a very small impact. Yes, the Costa ship that was calling in on the next day canceled the stop. But now we’re seeing the cruise lines rally around the port and the country and they’re back on track.

PG: The best story of the month has to be about the Carnival Magic, when it came to the rescue of a ship in a distress.

CSB: Cruise lines do this all the time and they don’t always get the credit that they deserve. But Carnival Magic was sort of a special experience.

PG: This happened at 1 o’clock in the morning, right? In the middle of the Mediterranean.

CSB: You never read about the stuff happens at 3 p.m. It was a bad weather situation and the ship captain had to really be right on his game at 1 a.m. to pull this off.

PG: Apparently a French captain and his son were sailing, and sent out a distress call somewhere between Barcelona and Sicily. The Magic bridge got the distress call and the boat in question had lost power and was bouncing dangerously in heavy swells and strong winds. Interestingly, the skipper didn’t want to abandon ship. So, the Magic decided to do something really outrageous. According to your story, they used their bow thrusters to move sideways, which allowed the Carnival ship to move into position where it could actually protect the ship from the worst gusts of wind. And they saved the day.

CSB: I think that was pretty classy. Instead of insisting the guy abandon the ship, which is what you’d think the captain would do, he moved the Carnival Magic in a position where it could keep the ship out of the wind. It’s a great story.

The Magic Rescue. Credit Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines.

PG: The ship was so big it could block the wind. Here’s the coolest part of the story, the next day the seas were calm; the captain and son were safe; the ship was safe, and the Carnival Magic made it to Messina on time.

CSB: It was a perfect storm of good news the next day. People think the Mediterranean is this always sunny, body of water. But I can tell you, it gets nasty out there. This happened in the middle of summer. That was tough weather.

PG: It is. You don’t expect that to happen in the middle of July. And the next time you’re at sea and you’re on a charter boat and you’re in big trouble, make that distress call. If there’s a cruise ship nearby, even if you have abandon ship, guess what? You’ll be eating well.

CSB: Sleeping well too, probably.

PG: And they won’t hit you with the single supplement or fee because it will be a mercy cruise.

CSB: They’ll find some way to have some revenue. They’ll hit you with a rescue fee. We have to find out if there’s a rescue fee.

PG: Let’s find out if the last 10 years, when a cruise ship has rescued someone, if they attempted to get their money back in terms of a rescue fee. Or did they go one step beyond and follow the airline model and charge them for a pillow once on board?

CSB: Oh god, wouldn’t that be awful? We asked about that once after a group of refugees were saved and brought on board a cruise ship for a couple of days. The cruises usually just write it off rescues.

PG: Some accountant at some cruise line could have a great revenue-generating scheme here if cruises rescue you at $8.95-a-minute or something.

CSB: That’s right along the lines of what it costs to make a phone call from your cabin telephone.

PG: That’s right. If you actually make a distress call, they charge you.

By Peter Greenberg for

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