Almost two weeks after the Costa Concordia cruise ship sank off the coast of Italy, leaving at least 16 people dead and 19 missing, Costa Cruises is offering uninjured passengers $14,460, or 11,000 euros each to compensate for mental trauma and lost baggage.
Costa Crociere S.p.A., doing business as Costa Cruises, which owned the cruise ship that carried about 4,200 people, announced the agreement on Friday. The company negotiated with Italian consumer groups who say they represent 3,206 cruise ship passengers from 61 countries without physical injuries, the Associated Press reported.
Costa Cruises said it is also reimbursing passengers for the full costs of their cruise and travel and medical expenses incurred after the grounding.
Costa Crociere's parent is British-American company Carnival Corp., the largest company in the cruise industry, with more than 100 ships in service and 11 international brands.
Passengers who do not participate in this deal could pursue legal action on their own. Some consumer groups have been active in a criminal case against the captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino. Under house arrest, he is accused of manslaughter and abandoning the ship.
Italian consumer group, Codacons, has engaged two U.S. law firms to launch a class-action lawsuit against Costa and Carnival in Miami, claiming that it expects to get anywhere from euro125,000 ($164,000) to euro1 million ($1.3 million) per passenger, the AP reports.
One week after the accident, newlyweds Benji Smith and Emily Lau said they were still trying to get their lives back together as they figured out how to hold those determined responsible for the accident accountable.
"When we first got off the ship we had the adrenaline to keep us pumping and moving," Smith said. "It's hard for us to imagine even working. This is all we can focus on."
The couple believes the cruise company, Costa Concordia, and not just the ship's captain, should be held responsible for the 11 deaths, and the emotional and physical injuries of the survivors. But Smith and Lau also voiced anger at Italian authorities and the U.S. Embassy for what they believed was their unresponsiveness after the escape on the island of Giglio.
More than 120 U.S. citizens were reportedly on the cruise ship, including a missing couple from Minnesota, Jerry and Barbara Heil.
"The U.S. Embassy told us they cannot possibly send anyone to us," Lau said when she and her husband were interviewed on "Good Morning America". "The [Italian] police said Costa is owned by Carnival, so it is an American problem and they can't do anything about it."
After returning to their Cambridge, Mass., Smith and Lau said they had been busy with doctors' appointments, and obtaining new driver's licenses, documentation, and replacement car keys.
Smith, a computer scientist, and Lau, a musician, survived the crash by climbing down a rope on the side of the sinking ship. They said they still struggled with their physical and emotional well-being. Lau said she lost access to the entire upper range of her voice, which is problematic for a singer.
"For somebody like Emily, who sings for a living, her body is her instrument," Smith, who has made inquiries with various attorneys, said. "To put her body through this kind of stress and anxiety and turmoil is devastating to her career."
The couple had been married 14 days before the accident.