Vada a bordo. Get on board. Those now famous words—less the slangy expletive—spoken by Italian Coast Guard captain Gregorio De Falco to captain Francesco Schettino, the rat who left the sinking Costa Concordia, are good advice to everyone contemplating a cruise trip thisyear. Pack your bags and go.
Sure, Schettino is a cretino, and perhaps the worst ship commander since Bligh, but the chances of another seafaring disaster like this one are slim, especially since Schettino has run his last cruise.
Terrible accidents happen every day—and every loss of life is tragic. But as stock market analysts and journalists babbled about damage to the industry—sinking Concordia owner Carnival Cruise Line’s stock—it’s worth considering that the more likely risk on a cruise line is diarrhea from ship borne bugs transmitted among passengers. And maybe boredom. There are other issues within the industry—for instance, the personal safety of women on these ships, and environmental policies in waste and garbage disposal. But a wreck like the Concordia remains a remote possibility.
Accidents like the Concordia raise our fear levels, but quickly fade. Do you remember the last big airline disaster? Probably not. That was June 6, 2009, when an Air France A330 vanished into the Atlantic off the Brazilian coast. Pilot error was blamed; it was a horrible tragedy. Yet nobody stopped flying. There are 5,493 plane crashes accounted for on the web site planecrashinfo.com. Still want to fly? Of course you do, because you can’t go on vacation to exotic places if you don’t. And let’s face it, the car or taxi ride to the airport or cruise port is still way more dangerous than your flight or your cruise—some 30,000 people are killed annually in auto accidents in the U.S. We still drive, because we accept the risks.
As Jeff Wise wrote in the January 12, 2012, issue of TIME we tend to load up on the wrong fears at the wrong time. The industry will certainly be reviewing safety procedures and personnel policy to make sure a clown like Schettino doesn’t do something catastrophically stupid again. And if travelers overcompensate for the very small possibility of a cruise ship sinking again, certainly the industry will hurt. At the same time, perhaps the industry will overcompensate by making cruise travel cheaper.
And if it does, that will hurt earnings—but it might give you even more reason to vado a bordo.