Cruise International Editor Adam Coulter gives his view of the Costa Concordia accident

costa-concordia-captainThe Costa Concordia accident has shone a bright spotlight on cruising, but the incident ought to be taken into context.

Cruising is still one of the safest forms of transport: 1.7m Brits took a cruise last year. Worldwide this figure is 21m people.

There are 0.3 deaths at sea per billion passenger kilometers, compared to 2.8/billion by road.

And of the 4,200 people on board Costa Concordia so far six people have died with 15 unaccounted for. It goes without saying that is six too many, but it could have been far worse.

There will of course be a period of soul-searching and questioning (as there should be), and as investigations continue, the chain of events that led to the accident on Friday night will become increasingly clear.

But an incident like this is so rare as to be almost unprecedented. In fact, apart from the obvious shock over the loss of life, experts are scratching their heads on how this could have even happened.

Not in a Titanic-this-ship-is-unsinkable type of way, but in a what-on-earth-was-the-ship-doing-so-close-to-the-island? type of way.

The Costa Concordia had sailed this particular route 52 times last year – 52 – and it’s been in service since 2006, so presumably had notched up well in excess of 300 sailings along this particular stretch of coast.

Plus those rocks didn’t just turn up unannounced: they would have been on every navigational map (despite what Captain Francesco Schettino – pictured above – has said).

So unless there was some sort of catastrophic electronic navigational failure, then it looks as if – as Costa Cruises have in effect stated – that this is human error.