ETX travelers remain steady despite Italian wreckage

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - As 5 more bodies were pulled Tuesday from thewreckage of an overturned Italian cruise ship. The industry is playing damagecontrol. Us coast guard training center says it's unlikely an American shipwould suffer a similar tragedy.

That's good news for East Texas travelagencies, now entering peak season.

"About 80% of the cruises that wesell during the whole year are sold within this time period," said TravelAgent Nancy Mize.

The cruise industry has seen steady growth in recent years and travelagent Nancy Mize says the incident off the coast of Italy will only bring moresafety.

"The cruise industry becomes moreaware of other things they can fix to make things safer," said Mize.

Even though Italian investigators suspect human error with the Costa Concordia,survivors are telling stories that would make any traveler weary.

"It was dipping, the boat was tiltingon the side that we were in, and there were people that actually jumped off thelifeboats to swim ashore, they were afraid the boat was going to come on top ofthem," said passenger Jesus Garcia

Unlike Italy, cruise lines that operate in the US must pass safetyinspections and obtain certifications, including an annual testing of lifeboatdeployment.

Still, Mize says regular cruise passengers don't let incidents botherthem because they are so rare.

"More people are more concernedwhen it comes to cruising with weather. Cruising is a very safe mode oftransportation," said Mize.

Cruise companies saw thegreatest decrease in travel after 9/11, but after a few months Mize says peoplewere searching for a good time.

"You're so distracted by all thefun things that it becomes a non issue," said Mize.

Agents recommend if you are nervous about going on a cruise start with 2to 3 day cruise and work your way up.

The Costa is effectively owned by carnival,based in Miami, but it is operated in Italy, so it doesn't have to follow USlaws.

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