Concordia 'temple of fun' to ship of doom
Milan - The Costa Concordia luxury cruise liner, which ran aground off the coast of Italy on Friday, was described by its owners as a floating "temple of fun" dedicated to entertainment and well-being.
Like the similarly ill-fated Titanic, the 17-deck Concordia had its own superlatives: at the time the largest liner ever built in Italy and the flagship of the fleet operated by Costa, Europe's largest cruise company.
But it was also regarded as a cursed ship by superstitious Italian sailors, after the champagne bottle failed to smash when it was thrown against the hull for its christening ceremony.
The accident, which occurred on the inauspicious date of Friday the 13th, was not the first involving the Concordia.
In November 2008, as it was entering port in the Sicilian city of Palermo it was hit by large waves, causing damage to its bow, although no casualties were reported.
"Imposing and majestic, Costa Concordia is one of the biggest ships in the Costa fleet, a real floating temple of fun that will amaze you," the company says on its website.
The "futuristic" liner, which stretches the length of three football pitches, was on a seven-day cruise in the Mediterranean when it ran aground off the Tuscan island of Giglio with more than 4 200 people on board.
The Concordia boasted 1 500 cabins, five restaurants, 13 bars, as well as a giant screen cinema, theatre, casino and disco, library, shopping centre and even a Formula One grand prix simulator, according to the Costa website.
As well as the array of entertainment facilities, the vessel also had 6 000m² across two decks devoted to health, well being and sport. Its facilities included five jacuzzis, four pools, a fully-equipped spa, a multi-sports field, a jogging track and fitness centre.
Concordia was built in a Genoa shipyard and launched in 2006 as a veritable floating city, with a capacity for over 3 700 passengers as well as a 1 100-strong crew.
The 114 500 ton vessel measured 290m in length and had a maximum speed of just over 23 knots and a cruising speed of 21.5 knots, giving it a range of 10 to 14 days, it said.
The ship also had webcams installed allowing people to track its route on the internet, but the last update on its website stated briefly "Data transmission is temporarily suspended".
The Genoa-based Costa is the biggest cruise operator in Europe, with a turnover of €2.9bn in 2010, according to its website.