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Costa Concordia Adds Discount Insult to Injury

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What has to be the one thing a passenger of the ill-fated Costa Concordia doesn’t want? Next to ever having to hear Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” again, it would have to be setting foot on the deck of another Costa Cruises ship.

But a future voyage at sea is precisely what parent company Carnival Corp (CCL) is offering survivors of the cruise liner that had to be evacuated in the middle of the night before it sank off the shores of the Italian island of Giglio. In an attempt to stem the tide of personal injury lawsuits with which the world's largest cruise operator is about to be slapped, Carnival has put an offer on the table.

Perhaps an all-expenses-paid voyage to a choice of any of the cruise line’s ports? No? OK, so maybe not free but heavily discounted, right?

What are we talking here? Seventy-five percent off? Fifty percent?

Try 30.  

“The company is trying to do everything they can for those passengers directly affected,” said a spokesman for Costa Cruises. “The company is not only going to refund everybody but they will offer a 30 per cent discount on future cruises if they want to stay loyal to the company.”

That’s right. The voyage that claimed the lives of 13 passengers and counting because its captain -- while showboating for the Tuscan locals, steered his 114,500 tonne ship less than 1,000 feet from the rocky coastline and smashed into reefs -- wants make things right with the equivalent of a Groupon (GRPN) offer. Actually, that’s unfair to Groupon who’s selling a five-night stay at the Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort in French Polynesia for a 50% discount. And Groupon didn’t even kill anyone.

“It is a ridiculous and insulting offer,” said Brian Page, a 63-year-old British passenger.I'm very disappointed in them. They are not accepting their responsibilities at all. Our only back-up is separate legal action.”

This deal is actually the second failed tack taken by Carnival to pacify survivors. It was reported that passengers were angered after receiving phone calls from Carnival inquiring about post traumatic stress issues like nightmares or sleepless nights. According to psychologists, this kind of questioning only serves to exacerbate trauma -- and according to lawyers, it is a clever tactic to sway passengers’ favor.

“In other large-scale incidents, defendants have been very keen to liaise with victims early on with a view to making low offers of settlement,” said Clive Garner, head of the travel law team at Irwin Mitchell, who represents at least one British passenger.

Two US law firms have joined forces with Italy's consumer association Codacons in filing class action lawsuits seeking at least $160,000 per passenger on the ship and, for those most seriously injured, up to $1.2 million. 
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