Jim Walker is an American attorney specialising in representing passengers and crew members in legal actions against cruise lines. It’s his job to think the worst of those cruise lines. We don’t agree on much, and his opinions have been known to leave me almost speechless with rage.
However, I have a begrudging admiration for his Cruise Law News blog which is well-written and informative, though in my view frequently biased and prejudiced. A few weeks ago, in a completely impartial moment, he included me in a list of his Top 12 cruise blogs for 2012.
He surprised me a few months ago by praising Carnival Cruises over their handling of the incident when an engine room fire crippled Carnival Splendor. He actually astonished me by recommending that passengers on board the crippled ship should NOT seek to take legal action because they had been offered more than adequate recompense.
Today, I find myself in complete agreement with Jim Walker once again. This time it’s his excoriating attack on the way Costa Crociere and parent company Carnival Corporation have handled the Costa Concordia tragedy which gets the thumbs-up.
He addresses the “Where is Micky Arison” question which I raised earlier today and I’m sure he won’t mind if I reproduce a few of the points he has made in an article headed “How Carnival is Ruining its Reputation .”
“A cruise line’s reputation in a time of crisis is often formed not by the circumstances which caused the crisis but by the company’s attitude, appearance, and action afterwards.
“So how have the principal actors in this drama performed so far?
“Captain Francesco Schettino failed miserably. His attitude has been defiant. His appearance? None. He abandoned ship in dereliction of the traditional maritime duty to stay with the vessel. He fled the scene of a crime. His actions? Self-preservation. Disregarding orders by the Italian Coast Guard to return to the cruise ship and assist in the evacuation. Lying. ‘I slipped-and-fell-into-a-life-boat‘ defies reason and belief.
“Costa’s chief executive, Pier Luigi Foschi, and parent company Carnival’s CEO, Micky Arison, are close behind the disgraced captain in trying to ruin their reputations.
“Arison admittedly expressed his condolences from the comfort of his 200-foot luxury yacht in the Miami area. But carefully-crafted corporate PR statements go only so far. He failed to appear at the scene. How hard is it to hop in a Gulfstream jet and fly to Rome and then head over to the island of Giglio?
“In Miami, we hear snickering that as the Costa Concordia sits on its side with dead passengers still trapped inside, some of the Carnival executives have been seen gallivanting around town at black-tie gala parties and even Miami Heat professional basketball games. (CEO Arison owns the Miami Heat.)
“But it was only this weekend, one week after the crisis started, that Arison sent senior executive Howard Frank to Italy. Even then, Howard appears to be in Genoa where Costa’s headquarters are located. He apparently has no intention of making an appearance at the scene of death and destruction.
“If Arison and Carnival’s executives don’t care enough to appear in Giglio to speak with the survivors directly and assess the situation personally, they risk earning reputations no better than that of their arrogant and cowardly Captain Schettino.”

Well-said, Jim. But I wonder if you have gone far enough. Arison now risks damaging not only the reputation of his own company but the cruise industry as a whole. With 11 subsidiary companies and 100 ships, Carnival Corporation is the biggest cruise operator in the world. But has the time come for the bosses of rivals such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line to pressure Arison into taking action?
►Earlier today, following the publication of my piece Time for some answers, I emailed three straightforward questions to Costa spokesman Clarence Mitchell. I am sure he is a busy man right now, which is why I decided not to contact him by telephone. I have yet to receive a response. I do hope he is not going to prove as elusive as Mr Arison.