Cruise ship industry looks past tragedy

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Cruise industry leaders gathered Tuesday for their first convention since the Costa Concordia disaster, emphasizing their commitment to safety and expressing confidence that business will return.

The Concordia accident, in which 32 people died when the ship ran aground in January off the coast of Italy, cast a long shadow over this year’s Cruise Shipping Miami conference, attended by thousands from the cruise and travel industries in more than 100 countries.

Costa’s parent company, Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise operator, said booking trends are running behind last year, leading it last week to slash 2012 profit forecasts nearly in half. Miami-based Carnival’s brands also include Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Cunard Line.

“As everyone here well knows, the Concordia incident has focused considerable attention on our industry,” Carnival Corp. vice chairman and COO Howard Frank said in his keynote address.

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In related news, the ship's bell of the Costa Concordia is reported to have gone missing. An investigation was launched into the disappearance, the Italian news agency Ansa reports.

A judicial source quoted by the Reuters news agency said that thieves stole the bell from one of the ship's decks two weeks ago.

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