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All Things Travel: Concordia Raises Expectations

By Bob Weiss, CBSBoston.com Travel Contributor
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Costa Concordia  (Photo by Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

Costa Concordia (Photo by Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

Bob-Weiss Bob Weiss
Bob Weiss’s All Things Travel reports can be heard weekly on WBZ...
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BOSTON (CBS) – The New England cruise industry breathed a sigh of relief this week as The Costa Concordia was lifted off a reef in Italy after almost two years. Any other result would have affected cruise bookings for the upcoming winter season.

The Concordia salvage operation took place at the busiest time of the year for New England ports from Newport, Rhode Island to Bar Harbor, Maine.

Regular weekly Canada departures from Boston’s Black Falcon Cruise terminal to Canada on The Holland America Line “Veendam,” Royal Caribbean Cruise Line “Brilliance of the Seas” and Crystal Cruises “Crystal Symphony” are scheduled.

Next week will be one of the busiest weeks of the season for cruise ships making a one day port of call in Boston. Sunday starts off the week with a visit of Carnival “Glory.” That will be followed by arrivals of the Celebrity “Summit” and The Caribbean Princess a day later. Seven ships will be in port in the seven day period.

Salvage operations of The Concordia were the largest ever attempted at a cost of over $600 million. It took over a year of planning and 19 hours to lift the ship off a reef. The operation was broadcast live around the world. The ship weighed 114,000 tons.

The good news is that there appears to be no major environmental damage from the accident.

The scope of the operation can be understood when you consider that over 500 divers were used to secure materials needed to float a 951-foot cruise ship which was carrying about 4,200 passengers and crew when it ran aground on January 13, 2012. 38 people lost their lives.

There was an immediate impact on the cruise industry that now appears to have been lifted.

“We are happy to have it going to a shipyard and headed for scrap,” said Bill Walsh, President of Cruise Travel Outlet in Salem, New Hampshire, one of the major travel agencies specializing in cruises. “Business picked up quite a bit this spring and summer and next year looks good.”

Massport, which operates Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, has seen increasing interest in the port of Boston. As more mega-ships begin operations, Boston should get more business starting as early as 2015.

“60 Minutes” will broadcast a segment on the raising of the Costa Concordia next Sunday.

Bob Weiss reports on business travel on Mondays at 5:55 a.m. on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

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