DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The images of the tipped Costa Concordia are frightening: More than 4,000 anxious passengers tried to leave the damaged luxury liner while her captain reportedly slinked away without offering aid.
Recovery crews discovered five more bodies Tuesday, bringing the number of confirmed deaths to 11. Twenty people are feared missing.
North Texas travelers are dumbfounded by the accident and the captain’s reaction, but many aren’t letting it affect planning for their own trips.
“I didn’t believe it at first because that sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore,” said travel agent Tom Pacena of Ahoy Cruises, a business that solely books cruises.
Pacena said the event is a tragic loss, but it’s not deterring cruise ship patrons –– at least, not at his place of employment.
“I’m actually booking the same amount,” he said. “I booked two yesterday, I’ve got four going today, so it’s been about the same.”
His clients share the sentiment. They acknowledge the tragic circumstances, but many said Tuesday that the chance of it repeating is so slim that they aren’t concerned.
“They bring it up as a matter of interest because they have an interest in cruising, but they go ahead and continue to book,” Pacena said. “Loss of life is a tragedy even if it is just one, but it could have been a lot worse.”
Meanwhile, Paige Milligan is preparing for her fifth cruise next month: “It’s like a chance you take whenever you go on an airplane,” she says.
When she travels, Milligan goes with friends or she travels with her mother, whom she said experienced an emergency once when a ship lurched sideways, spilling passengers and their food.
Milligan says risks are simply anticipated by passengers and crew.
“You get into your room, you get comfortable, and then they do a while practice drill and you have to put on a life vest and you have to go out to the other areas,” she said.
There have been other issues aboard cruise ships in recent years. Illnesses and suicides have been reported while others have mysteriously disappeared.
Despite the fear of being lost at sea, passenger travel on cruise ships is among the safest in the world statistically.
Southern Methodist University economist Mike Davis of the Cox School of Business said he believes the event may initially hurt the industry, but it will recover.
“When there’s an airplane disaster there tends to be a spillover effect,” he said. “A lot of airlines tend to be harmed when there’s a wreck.”
But he says accepting risk is part of human nature.
“People tend to be a lot more fearful about risks that they can’t control,” he said. “When you drive your char, you feel you’re in control, and so you don’t worry much. But if you’re sitting in an airplane or cruise ship and you’re not in charge? You worry more.”